Choosing a puppy can be tricky for first-time owners but I’ll walk you through everything that you need to consider when getting a puppy that fits your lifestyle and personality.
Breed Traits Vs. Personality
When researching a breed that you might be interested in adopting from a shelter or buying from a breeder it is important to differentiate between breed traits and the individual personality of a dog.
The traits that a breed has been passed down from the parents. Pure breeds will most likely always have the same traits as their parents as well as the majority of the other dogs in that breed.
Breed traits could be:
- Intelligence level
- Amount of shedding
- Affectionate towards the family
- Friendly towards other dogs
- Easy to groom
- Energy Level
- Level of prey drive
- Friendly towards strangers
- Amount of exercise needed
- Need for your attention
- Potential to gain weight
- Barking tendency
- Attachment to their owner
- Thick/thin coats
- Good at swimming
An example: the Australian shepherd has the breed traits highly intelligent, eager to learn, very attached to their owner, herding instinct and affectionate towards their family. Most other Australian shepherds will have those same traits if they are a pure breed. These traits are very common among this breed and they inherited from the parents to their pups.
Now a poodle has the breed traits: highly intelligent, very energetic, good swimmers, high need for your attention, need a lot of grooming and have the tendency to gain weight quickly.
If the poodle and Australian shepherd had a litter of puppies together they would give certain traits of their breed to their pups.
All of them would be intelligent as both the parents are but some may be good at swimming while others have a herding instinct and yet another puppy doesn’t have any of those traits but is just intelligent, eager to learn and attached to their owner.
Getting a mixed breed puppy, in this case, an Aussiedoodle is really a surprise package and you can’t know what you are getting. I myself got an Aussiedoodle pup and I can see a lot of breed traits of both the parents in him.
The personality of your dog is something that you can influence but breed traits are things that you can’t change so be sure to read up on the breed traits or characteristics of your preferred breed.
Personality traits in dogs are:
The personality of your dog is something that you can influence by raising your pup in a specific way. Often puppies can also pick up the personality traits of their owners.
For example, leaving your pup to venture on his own and not coddling him can teach him independence.
The best way to raise a balanced puppy is to make sure that he makes plenty of dog friends when he is young and meets lots of new people and environments. Show your pup the world and he should become a great companion.
High Energy Vs. Low Energy
It can usually be hard to tell if a puppy is a high or low energy because all puppies have a bunch of energy and want to play but more importantly you need to figure out which is right for you.
A high energy dog needs a lot of exercise, attention and could possibly need more training. They are more suitable for people that do a lot of sports in which your dog can join you in like jogging, hiking or biking.
A high energy dog whose energy is drained regularly is easier to train than one left at home alone all day.
Additionally, high energy dogs that get bored at home resort to destructive behavior and could start nibbling on your furniture and destroy it to satisfy their boredom.
A low energy dog might not need as much attention and exercise as a high energy one but nonetheless, both need their fair share.
Low energy dogs can tend to sleep more and are able to adapt to your lifestyle but it also depends on the breed of your dog.
A low energy dog can still enjoy getting exercise with you but can tend to be less hyperactive and a little calmer.
How To Tell A High Energy Dog From A Low Energy One?
When pups are very young it can be difficult to differentiate the two because most of the day they sleep. By around 8 weeks their personalities start to come through and you can see differences between all the pups.
If you’re choosing your pup before that age be sure to talk to the breeder or staff at the shelter because they’ll have a better idea which ones could become high or low energy.
Regardless of when you are choosing your little puppy, you can try to sit in the middle of them all and see which ones are interested in playing with you. At the start, it will probably be all or at least most of them.
Depending on if they have just had playtime it might be none of them and they’ll all want to sleep but try to get them all interested in you and then pay attention to the ones that go back to sleep first.
Those will most likely be the more calm pups and the ones constantly jumping on you and wanting to play the high energy dogs.
Boy Vs. Girl Puppies
There is always the question of whether you want a girl or a boy puppy. There is not a huge difference between the two but there are typical behaviors for both sexes that owners often observe.
Male pups are said to be more affectionate towards their owners and can be easier to train.
Not neutered male dogs can tend to be more dominant and independent. They can sometimes also try to dominate smaller dogs or even their owners which is why they need firm leadership.
A male puppy, when grown up, will mark his territory when going on walks and sniffs pee of other dogs when on walks as well. Females can sometimes also do this but it’s more common in males.
Female pups have been known to be more protective of their owners the same way that she would protect her puppies and can therefore sometimes come off as a little aggressive.
Female dogs of any breed tend to reach their full maturity faster than their male counterparts which makes them easier to train than a male pup the same age.
Once they have reached maturity they come into “heat” twice a year. During this time they secrete a bloody discharge to attract male dogs. Keep your pup off of anything that can stain and keep her away from male dogs if you don’t want to have a litter of pups.
If you aren’t planning on having puppies with your dog or don’t want to enter your dog into a dog show you should consider having her spayed. The best time to spay a female dog is when they are between 6 and 9 months old.
Spaying your female pup can also alter her temperament and make her mellower and less aggressive and protective.
You shouldn’t necessarily make your choice before meeting the puppies. Most likely you’ll choose one that speaks to you and that you immediately bond with.
With training, any dog can be a well balanced and socialized companion no matter the sex.
Colour may be an important part when you first dream about getting a little puppy but what really matters is your pup’s personality.
You may choose the super active puppy from the litter just because he has a pretty coloured coat but really you don’t have a lot of time for your dog and he ends up destroying your furniture when you’re not home because he’s bored.
Of course, the colour still matters but make sure your pup’s personality is the right fit for you.
Look At The Body Language
Watching your puppy interact can say a lot about his personality.
My puppy obviously enjoys interacting with other dogs and cuddling with them and doesn’t like to be alone when he’s sleeping. You can see my pup cuddling with his brother in the picture above.
This behavior later translated into my puppy being very attached to his owner, me.
Other pups that prefer to sleep alone are probably going to grow up to be more independent than others.
Questions To Ask Yourself:
These are a variety of questions you should ask yourself to be sure that you are ready for a dog and help you figure out what kind of pup fit you.
Are You Allergic To Dogs?
If you know that you are allergic to other animals or maybe even dogs then you should consider getting a hypoallergenic dog. These dogs are not completely allergy-free but the chance of you having a reaction to this type of dog is far less likely.
Hypoallergenic dogs also shed far less than other dogs so if you are not into having dog hair everywhere this may be for you. Here is a list of 35 hypoallergenic dog breeds.
Do You Have Other Dogs?
Introducing your new pup to another older dog can take more of your time, energy and training. You need to be sure that your pets get along with each other before you can leave them alone and teaching them to get along can take some time.
Even after 3 weeks of my new pup and an older dog living together they still don’t 100% get along and I always need to keep an eye on them when they are together.
How Much Time Is Available To You?
Puppies need a lot of training. You need to teach them the house rules, teach them how to walk on a leash, show them how to act around strangers and other dogs, feed them multiple times a day and show them the world.
Make sure that you have a few week’s time to teach your new pup all this as it’s a very important stage in your pup’s life.
Do You Have Children?
Children take up a lot of your time and getting a new puppy and taking care of children at the same time may not work depending on how young your children are.
You also need to teach your children how to act around a puppy which is another thing that you need to take care of when teaching your puppy how to behave.
Are You Planning On Having A Baby?
A baby growing up together with a puppy may be super cute but they both take up a lot of time. You need to be sure that if you want to have a baby soon that your puppy will not just be tossed aside.
A puppy needs and deserves a lot of attention so be sure that you have other people around that can help you out.
How Often Are You Planning To Go Out With Your Pup?
A high energy puppy will need more of your attention and discipline than a calmer puppy.
Every puppy and dog should get enough exercise and at least one walk a day but other puppies may need more. If you like running or biking every day then a high energy pup could be better for you.
How Big Are Your Home And Yard?
Larger dog breeds and high energy pups may need more space. A yard or a park or forest nearby for walks and excursions is every dog’s dream and also makes your life easier.
The pup can run around and leave their energy outside and you can have a calm dog inside.
Can You Afford Someone Else To Watch Your Dog While You’re On Holiday?
At one point you may want to fly somewhere and can’t take your dog. You need someone to watch him when you’re not home.
This could be family or a dog sitter that you would have to pay. Keep this in mind when planning on getting a pup.
Are You Living Alone?
If you are living alone you need to make sure that you’re around enough to watch your dog, play with him and feed him. Your dog doesn’t deserve to be alone all day every day.
If you have family living with you make sure that they are on board with getting a puppy because at some point after countless sleepless nights you will ask them for help.
Make sure no-one in the house is allergic to your new pup so take them to meet the pup at least once.
If you have children in the house be sure to teach them how to interact with a young puppy.
Can You Afford The Medical Bills?
After you get your pup you’ll need to take him to the vet to get his puppy vaccinations. They will have to be renewed every few years. One vet visit for vaccinations can cost you around 150$.
If you want to get your pup spayed that’ll cost you an additional 200$.
A medical emergency can happen at any time and you need to rush to the emergency vet. They usually take double the fee after hours of what you would usually pay. Your pup may need to stay overnight and the bill for your pups emergency can quickly add up to 500$.
Be sure to have enough money in the bank for an emergency, vaccinations as well as the adoption fee or whatever the breeder wants for his pups.
Are You Planning To Train Your Pup?
A puppy is like a newborn baby. It needs A LOT of attention. You’ll need to get up in the middle of the night to feed him, teach him not to pee inside the house and try to bring him back to sleep.
Pups need a lot of training too. Mistakes happen all the time and you’ll need to clean up a bunch of puddles which can become very frustrating after a few weeks.
Some puppies need more training than others and depending on how experienced you are you need to decide what dog breed to choose accordingly.
You should at least plan a few weeks where you need to stay home and watch your pup 24/7.
Where Can I Get A Puppy?
You can get a puppy from three places: a shelter, a rescue organization or a breeder.
Getting A Puppy From A Shelter
When you are getting a puppy from the shelter there are a few things to pay attention to:
- A shelter that is close to home is always the best option. You don’t want to stress your new pup on a long car or train ride home. You can also visit multiple times and make sure that you are happy with your choice.
- Ask the shelter workers about the dog’s personalities, if they have any disabilities or food allergies and why they are in the shelter in the first place. These are important things to consider.
- Narrow down your choices to two or three and ask the shelter workers if you can take each of your choices on a walk. You can get to know the dog on the walk. It is a different environment and their personality might change drastically.
Getting In Touch With A Rescue
Nowadays rescues have websites where you can look at all their dogs online.
They have options to search for specific breeds that you might be more interested in than others. Most of them will be mixed breeds and some may also be guesses based on the looks and behavior of the dog.
On the website, you can easily see which dogs are reserved, which are emergencies and which are still up for you to adopt.
What Makes A Good Breeder?
Finding a qualified breeder is important to get a healthy pup. You can identify a good breeder by the following characteristics:
- They give you their contact information. A good breeder will give you their telephone number or another way to stay in contact with them. They will be available for questions that you might have later on.
- They let you visit their home. A good breeder will let you see the puppy box as well as the environment where the puppies grow up.
- They don’t choose a puppy for you. Some breeders will just give you any puppy without considering which one best fits your needs or which one you want. A quality breeder will always give you the choice and even help you chose based on your needs.
- They will tell you the “bad” traits of the breed. A qualified breeder will tell you the good and worse traits of the breed and each individual personality. They’ll tell you if some puppies could be harder to train than others or have more energy.
- You will be able to see the parents. Seeing the parents can tell you a lot about the temperament of the puppies as well as their size. A good breeder will show you the parents or at least the mum so that you can see that they are healthy and get a good idea of the parent’s temperament.
- They will answer your questions about the breed. They won’t breed with more than one or two dog breeds. Breeders usually specialize in one or two breeds and won’t have more than that. They want their dogs to stay healthy and stick to a breed that they will know everything about. They will be able to answer any questions that you might have about the breed.
- The parents will be tested for hereditary diseases. A quality breeder will have tested the parent dogs for diseases that could be passed on to the puppies and will show you health certificates.
- They will often have a waiting list. Good breeders will often take a small fee to get you into a waiting list for puppies and when they have enough people waiting they will start breeding their dogs. This ensures that every pup can get into a nice home.
- Past buyers continue to buy puppies with them regardless of high prices. It’s always a good sign if people that have previously bought puppies from the breeder continue to buy puppies from them. That shows you that other people were happy with the puppies, their temperament as well as the breeders overall service (staying in touch, answering questions, etc.)
- The puppies were monitored by a vet. It is important to make sure that the puppies are healthy and have been health checked as well as gotten their first vaccinations. Quality breeders will give you a health certificate for your puppy from the vet and tell you which vaccinations the puppy might still need to get in the near future.
- Research Breeds that have traits that appeal to you.
- Pick a puppy that suits your personality and activity level.
- Figure out your finances.
- Decide on a breeder, rescue or shelter.
- Plan to take off a few weeks to train your puppy, maybe even go to puppy school?