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Looking for a new dog....

Deciding to get a dog (or another dog) is always an exciting journey but one which carries a lot of responsibility. Even if you're a lone adult looking for a pet dog, you have a responsibility to ensure your dog has not come from puppy farming or poor quality breeding, you also have a responsibility to ensure you can care for that dog and all the associated costs for the duration of your dogs life. When you add into that process looking for a dog which will be living with children and/or wanting to train the dog for assistance or therapeutic purposes, the responsibilities are even greater, as are the risks if you get it wrong. We've created this page to help equip you with the knowledge to help you find a suitable dog. Unfortunately, we are unable to directly assist you with finding a dog. 

What to look for in a puppy & breeder

  • Look for dogs bred within a home environment surrounded by all the noise and busy-ness of every day life. Dogs who are bred in an outhouse or kennels are far more likely to be anxious. 
  • They should be interested in your family, ask questions about children, other pets etc. This is especially important to look for if you're getting a puppy from working lines.
  • They should have a puppy neurostimulation or socialisation plan, socialisation within the home for puppies age 4-8 weeks is really important, within this time puppies should be exposed to lots of different objects and given the opportunity to interact with them or not as the puppy chooses.
  • Should have health checked including hip & elbow scores and sight & hearing tests - both the mum and dad before breeding them and be able to evidence this.
  • Look at why they breed - professional breeders aren't always the best, if a breeder is overbreeding or their primary focus on breeding their dog is money then they're not going to be having great litters. You want to look for dogs which have been bred for good health and exceptional temperament. 
  • Look for a breeder who only have one litter of puppies at once (or at absolutely max 2). Raising a premium litter of puppies takes a huge amount of work. More than 2 litters at the same time would suggest the breeder may not be fully invested in the litters. 
  • Look at the mum, she should have a fantastic temperament and look well cared for and clearly bonded to her pups and the breeder. 
  • Both parents should be over 2 years old
  • They must not be willing to let their puppies go before 8 weeks of age. 
  • Should have a puppy contract automatically or at the very least be willing to use one. This should state the puppy can be returned if need be. A good breeder should be willing to take puppy back.
  • Should be training puppies & mum with solely positive techniques.

Things to avoid

  • Not being willing to give the contact details and information about the puppies dad.
  • Puppies being kept in outhouse, shed or kennels OR puppies only being shown outside (sometimes breeders will say this is as its nice weather its nice for you to play with puppies in the garden - which it is, but you must see the conditions they're living in inside).
  • Not showing mum or mum looking scared, aggressive or poorly cared for. 
  • Making guarantees on behaviours - if the breeder promises your dogs going to be great with children or never bite or be a successful assistance dog then walk away. they can't guarantee those things and a good breeder will know that BUT it is ok if they make guarantees on genetics which are backed up by health testing results. 
  • Pedigrees or F1 cross breeds either without genetic health testing OR with parents carrying genetic conditions. 

What to look for in a rescue centre & rescue dog

  • Always look for a Rescue Centre which doesn't put healthy dogs down.
  • Explore the welfare policies and procedures - what have the rescue center done to ensure being in rescue has as little negative impact on the dog as possible? do they have an enrichment program for the dogs? do they get walked and off lead play time? is the rescue centered physically structured in a way to prevent the dogs distressing each other? Choose a rescue center which is really putting the welfare of the dogs first is so important to minimizing the likelihood that the dog has emotional difficulties or undesirable behaviours as a result of being in a rescue center. 
  • Look at the questioning you get from the rescue center. They should want to know all about you and your household & lifestyle to ensure they guide you to the most suitable dog for you. It can feel a bit intimidating but don't be put off by questioning, its a really good sign.
  • A good rescue center won't expect you to take home the dog the day you think you've found the right dog for you (and that would be a very unwise thing as a dog owner to do!), they should allow multiple visits and lots of time together including the chance to walk together before you take the dog home.

Where to find your dog

  • explore your local no kill rescue center - places like dogs trust have high welfare standard kennels and get to know their dogs well so maybe able to assist you in finding a suitable resuce for you. if you can find a suitable rescue dog from a rescue centre that have well assessed and really got to know their dogs and feel this dog is right for you then a rescue dog in these circumstances is better than getting a puppy from a breeder. Some rescue centres do however have restriction on childrens ages. 
  • ask a vet or local reputable dog trainer 
  • visit a relevant dog show - if you're interested in a doodle (poodle cross breed) then somewhere like doodle fest is a great place to meet dog owners, speak to companies who work with doodles and find out who the reputable breeders are from the experts. 
  • word of mouth 
  • pet sales sites 

Wherever you look, follow the above advise to minimise risk of purchasing a dog from a puppy farm or negligent breeder. If you have any concerns about a puppy farm, abusive or negligent breeder you can report them to the police, RSPCA & local authority.

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Pawsitive Squad is a registered community interest company (non profit organisation) number 1145 1119 (England and Wales)


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