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Advise for First Time Puppy Owners

There are so many breeds of dog, how do I decide which one to get?

You should have an idea of what type of dog you would like, no matter how vague. Do you want a pedigree or a mongrel? Do you want a large breed or a small breed? Do some research, talk to dog owners. All breeds of dogs have different characteristics- but remember, it's not just what a dog can offer you, it's also what YOU can offer to the dog!

What breed of dog suits a busy lifestyle?

Dogs need a lot of attention-you can't just buy a puppy and expect them to be perfect! Training takes time, so please stop and think, how much time have a got to spend on this dog? If you are away from the house most of the time, then it's probably not best for you to commit to a dog.
Which breeds are good with children?
First of all there are no completely safe and harmless breed of dogs- just as there's no breed of dog that is a killer. It's the one on the other end of the lead that determines the friendliness of a dog! If you want to raise your child around animals, try not to leave them alone with them, no matter how friendly you believe your animals to be. There have been countless stories of  dogs (all types of breeds) suddenly biting young children- do not let your family be host to these tragic consequences.
Think to yourself what kind of characters your children have. Are they loud and boisterous? Or are they more shy and withheld? It is important to know what kind of dog will tolerate your child and ask these questions about the puppies as well. It is advised to select a puppy from the ‘middle’ of the pack- this isn’t the one who bounds up to you straight away, nor the one who shys away from your touch. 
However, there are some breeds of dogs that are firm favourites of families:

·       Pug – Small sized dog but without the yapping and snapping. Constant grooming is unnecessary due to their short, velvet like coat. Very friendly and affectionate dogs, but they can suffer in heat due to their short faces.

·       Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Does need regular exercise and grooming, but an energetic and extremely loving breed.

·       Cocker Spaniel – Keen hunting instincts but an intelligent and affectionate small dog. Requires exercise and a small amount of grooming- especially behind the ears!
                                      Also a very intelligent dog- can get bored easily if not entertained!
·       Labrador/Golden Retriever – Labs are energetic but incredibly eager to please. They do need a lot of exercise and they love their food. However they are very friendly and perfect for family. Retrievers are loyal and have a longer coat than labs.
However don't let this list define what dog you should own if you have a family! Any dog has the potential of being the perfect family pet with the right amount of training and a lot of care.

Which breeds need minimum grooming?

Your best bet is to go for a short haired breed of dog- such as a pug, whippet, greyhound or Labrador which need the least amount of grooming! However if you want a dog with slightly longer fur- a poodle breed has longer fur which doesn’t moult and needs less brushing than the usual long haired dogs.

Is there an average cost to keeping a dog?

To tell the truth, caring for a dog can be very expensive. Go to and find out about the best insurance, which will cover accidents. However there are separate one time payments for things like sterilization that has to be taken into consideration. It can cost approximately £300 a year to feed a medium sized dog and that doesn’t include treats. You also need shampoo, brushes, bedding, toys, kennels for when you go away- the list goes on. The estimated cost for looking after a small to medium sized dog would be around £500 pounds per year, whereas a large dog could cost in the region of £800. Of course quality does come into it, so it depends how much money you have to put into having a dog.

Are smaller dogs cheaper to keep?

If you go by the logic that smaller dogs require less food than large dogs, technically maybe. But please don't go for a smaller breed of dog thinking it will be cheap. Every dog, no matter what size or breed, has their costs, and most importantly you need to invest your time, effort and love.

What are the costs of kennels if I go away? Where are the best kennels?

The highest quality kennels can be expensive- but there are numerous high standard kennels that are reasonably priced. Ask around, or visit this site to find some options:

Can I feed my puppy table scraps/ leftovers?

It is advised not to, as this will unbalance your puppies’ diet and get it into a bad habit of begging and bothering you whilst you eat. If you want to give your dog leftovers as to avoid waste food, don’t feed them straight from the table. Wait until after you have finished eating and put the scraps in the dogs bowl- as long as they’re not too fatty. With the Tallis family dog, we learnt the hard way! Now he can't stop jumping up and bothering us at the table, and he recently had to go on a bit of a diet!

How do I stop my puppy chewing everything?

Do not try and stop your puppy from chewing altogether - as teething is very uncomfortable for them. Instead when they are chewing something they mustn’t, take it off them and immediately provide them with a toy or something they are allowed to chew- such as a Kong toy with treats or peanut butter in!

Is it best to have a child then buy a puppy or vice versa?

There are conflicting answers to this question - so I am speaking from experience. My parents bought two Labrador puppies from the same litter 8 months after I was born, and we were as thick as thieves. I would say it is much easier to bring a dog into a home where there are already children, as they know they are not the only source of attention in the house. I think logically that a dog that has been living on its own with an owner and receiving all the attention could get jealous if a baby was suddenly thrown into the equation. However! Many families have bought a newborn baby back to a home where a dog has been the 'baby' for a while and everything worked out perfectly! It's one of those questions that depend on your situation and your relationship with your dog. 

Is it best to have more than one dog at a time?

I think this is personal choice, and it doesn’t directly affect you or the dog, However, if you’re looking at owning more than 5 dogs (which would be extremely expensive and time consuming!) they can be known to develop a ‘pack’ mentality. This means they will compete to be the dominate one out of the group - and this could lead to growling and even fighting.

Can a dog become jealous of a new baby and lash out?

Jealousy is a human emotion, but a dog that has had a lot of attention could react negatively to a child. It may try to place itself between you and your child, or even show signs of aggression. To avoid this, routine is very important. Regular walks, treats and specific feeding times will let your dog know that it is still an important part of the family.

I have allergies to dogs, but I still want one- is there a dog that I could get which won’t affect me too badly?

A poodle breed is a perfect dog for those with allergies as they do not moult as much as other long haired dogs. Also you could consider a short haired breed such as a pug or whippet.
What breeds of dog are ‘banned’?
There are 4 breeds that are banned in the UK. It is illegal to breed from, sell, abandon or give away a banned dog. The four types are:

·       Pit Bull Terrier

·       Japanese Tosa

·       Dogo Argentino

·       Fila Braziliero

What are the signs of an aggressive dog?

All the signs listed below suggest your dog could bite you or someone else. To rule out any medical problems, take your dog to the vet if he/she shows ANY of these signs:

·       Growling  

·       Snarling

·       Curling lips 

·       Mounting people

·       Lunging

·       Snapping

·       Blocking your path

·       Barking aggressively

·       Biting (even if it does not break the skin)
Remember, owning a dog is a wonderful experience. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and stress, but you receive so much in return. And that's the best way to think about it- what you put into your relationship with your dog, you will get back tenfold.
   Happy, healthy and well behaved dogs come from loving homes that have put in 100% effort and all the time they could offer them. So before you reach for a breeders number or go visit the rescue centre, think. Do you have the time? If you're away from home most of the week, than the answers probably no. Nothing is more boring and frustrating for a dog than to be stuck inside all day, waiting for you. Do you have the space? The money? Do any future plans get in the way? Are you planning to have a child someday? Can you work around that? There are so many questions, and think carefully about how you answer them. Dogs are cute, fun and loving, but they are hard work too. If you want to be around dogs more, but can't commit to owning one currently, then why don't you offer to walk dogs at your local rescue centre? Or dog-sit?

 Every dog deserves a loving home, but unfortunately so many suffer instead and never get that chance. Please think about your choice to have a dog, it's their life too!

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