Questions to ask when buying a puppy
We believe that rescue is best when it comes to bringing a new dog into your life, but if you are set on buying one we have compiled a list of important questions for you to ask first.
If you’re at home during the coronavirus lockdown now might feel like a good time to welcome a new puppy into your household. With potentially more time to spend training and settling a new pet this might well be the case for you and your family. However, it’s also important to remember that as lockdown eases, and we go back to different levels of normal life, you will need to be able to keep giving that puppy the same amount of care and attention along with everything else it needs.
While it may feel quick and easy, we would never recommend buying a puppy online. Pictures can be misleading, and it’s impossible to tell if they’ve come from a reputable source.
On 6 April 2020, Lucy’s Law was introduced which bans the sale of puppies or kittens in England from third parties or ‘middle men’, meaning that anyone looking to get a new animal should have to go directly to a breeder or a rescue or rehoming centre.
Rescue is best when it comes to getting a new dog but if you are set on buying one from a breeder, it’s important that you do your research and find a reputable breeder where the dogs and puppies are cared for properly. Further advice on this can be found at The Puppy Contract or Get Your Pet Safely.
Things to consider before getting a puppy:
Is a puppy the right pet for me?
Puppies are undoubtedly small and cute, but they also have a lot of energy so will need to start learning some basic training from the very start to make sure they become well-rounded adult dogs. Before committing to buying a puppy, it’s important to make sure that you have the time and resources to dedicate to both training and looking after them. This is rewarding but is also hard work and shouldn’t be underestimated.
It’s also important to make sure that you have the time and resources to dedicate to your puppy as it grows. If you are anticipating any significant life changes, for example spending less time at home as lockdown eases or going back to a work environment that would involve leaving them alone for long periods of time, then we would encourage you to think carefully before buying or rescuing a puppy.
Do you have enough space for a puppy?
While puppies start off very small, it won’t be long before they’ve grown into an adult dog. Some dogs won’t grow to be very big, but others may need extra space to live comfortably or burn off excess energy. Consider how much space you have available at home, and in any gardens or local outside areas, and the kind of dog your puppy will turn into before committing to getting a new dog. Rescue centres like Battersea will help match you with a dog that suits your circumstances, but you can research different breeds through The Kennel Club.
When was the puppy born?
Unless they’ve been hand-reared, a puppy shouldn’t leave its mother until it is at least eight weeks old. However, some breeders do not adhere to this timeframe, so it’s very important that you stay aware of this and check their age as best you can. Even during lockdown, breeders are expected to show you the puppy interacting with its mother using webcams, or video online. You should always insist on seeing this. It is all the more important while you are unable to visit the breeding premises. You should also feel free to ask to be shown where the puppy was bred using videos, or live video calls.
Puppies develop and change in appearance week on week, so a good way to check how old they are is by comparing them to photographs of others that are the same age.
Are you able to train and socialise your puppy?
Naughty puppies are easy to handle when they’re small, but you will need to lay the foundations for them to grow up to be the best dog they can be. Training your puppy is a very rewarding experience and will also help them to grow into a well-behaved pet when they’re older.
If you have bought a puppy during the coronavirus lockdown it is likely to be harder for you to make sure that they have started learning how to interact with other animals and people. Social distancing measures will mean that you are unlikely to be able to take part in training sessions or allow your dog to properly meet new dogs and people outside your household in their first few weeks and months. This is an important part of a puppy’s initial training, so will mean that you may need to make up for this as lockdown measures ease, and be aware that this is something that will need to be worked on in future. Take a look at our dog advice for training tips and unseful information.