Thinking of buying a Puppy
A potential owner however caring a person, can sometimes be totally unsuited to the dog they choose to own, so research of the intended breed and its traits and requirements is important before even thinking of going to view a puppy.
As dogs are mainly acquired for companionship owners tend to pick a breed that appeals to them visually without investigating if that breed is suitable to the environment they can provide, the time they have available for training and exercise, and their own expectations of dog ownership,( people looking for a couch potato should not be answering collie puppy for sales ads placed outside a farm gate )
An animal’s behavioural response to any given stimulus/situation is a function of both nature and nurture (genetics and learning). Therefore, the “ideal” dog would involve a combination of genetic soundness and raising the puppy properly.
There are no genetic screening tests for dog temperament. However, meeting the parents and related animals may provide some insight into behavioural tendencies for that particular lineage. For some potential owners meeting both parents is either not possible (parents not present) or all thoughts of doing so are abandoned as soon as they see the puppies, the fact that they can’t meet the bitch because she is “a bit protective” or “boisterous” is only thought about as they struggle with problems with their adolescent dog.
Prior to selecting a puppy prospective owners should ask the breeder for references from pups of previous litters (if they exist); and for a meet and greet of the parents (without puppies present) and any other related animals. If they like the temperament of those dogs, then and only then should they meet the puppies. The best recommendation to a potential owner for pup selection from a litter may be for them to pick a pup that doesn’t stand out – neither outgoing or withdrawn. Extremes in behaviour should be avoided. This goes against human nature, people tend to pick either the pup that is so outgoing/forward that it is they who “picks” the owner by constantly jumping on them or the pup that is so frightened that the person feels sorry for it and wants to “rescue” it.
This leaves the “nurture” part of the equation as the most influential component. By nurturing the puppy properly, some problematic behaviours may be averted, even if they don’t start with the best genetic predisposition. Socialization of puppies to is best achieved during the sensitive socialization period when puppies should be exposed to a variety of stimuli in a positive manner.
Responsible breeders should be happy to answer potential owners questions, they should have a good knowledge of their own dogs as well as of the breed. if they have socialized the puppies correctly they should also have taken notice of the developing characters within the litter and be able to guide new owners as to which puppy in a litter is likely to be suitable for the household it will be living in, and they should be able to discuss knowledgeably the temperaments of the parents who prospective owners should also be able to meet, The sire and dam are good indicators as to the eventual size and temperament of their offspring. The treatment and early raising (between 3 and 16 weeks of age) in puppies is extremely important in producing a well rounded confident dog, but even before this age handling and progressive exposure to sights, sounds and touch are important and will help lay the foundations for a well adjusted dog.
The area where the puppies have been reared should always be viewed as it can give important clues as to the extent of socialization for example puppies born in a dingy shed in the garden are likely not to have had the required early socialization. The litter should have been regularly and individually handled by the breeder and exposed to household sights and sounds from an early age and the observant breeder who handles the puppies every day. Will be able to say which puppy is the first at the gate to the puppy pen, who pounces on the others the most, who is the first to the food bowl and who is the last, who is the first to come running when they hear their voice, who makes eye contact and who doesn't, who is the first to wake and the last to sleep, who is adventurous and who clings to what they are used to, who fights when having their ears or teeth examined and who submits readily, who handles a strange environment with ease and who whimpers and shakes, who screamed at his vaccination and who licked the vet.
A responsible breeder will also ask questions of the potential owner such as why they chose the breed, who else is in the family (the presence of children, their ages etc), the daily routine and timetable, working hours, time available to exercise, provisions for if the puppy is to be left, whether the puppy is to be a pet or if there was any plan for agility obedience or showing, as well as general questions regarding the breed and their traits in order to ascertain if proper thought and consideration has been taken before deciding to take on a puppy.
This information as well as their knowledge of their litters personalities should enable them to single out the puppies they feel will be best suited to the new owner. If owners are not questioned or are just given the choice of any of the litter they should be wary that the breeder may have more interest in cash value than the puppy being the right dog for them.
The breeder should also have routinely tested that their pups are free of genetic diseases that may be common to their breed. Never buy a puppy on a whim or from a pet shop, the parents are not available for you to meet so any health problems they may have will not be disclosed and the puppies are quite often sourced from puppy mills and as such will have had little or no socialization
Dog owners should also be aware of their responsibility to continue the socialization of their puppy into adulthood and beyond, and to undertake to train their dogs to obey commands and to constantly reinforce that training and should only attend training classes that use positive training methods. They should also be aware of the importance of the correct home environment, a warm bed, toys to play with, companionship, an outside toilet area, and correct feeding with good quality food made from natural ingredients all of which contribute to a dogs behaviour and general well being
Scientists are continually making advances and the study of genetics is rapidly growing with recent studies indicating that genetics alone are not as important as the development of specific traits and personalities as once thought, those studies also support that outside factors influence behaviour in the same way that genetics do.
Most scientists now theorize that both genes and environment play integral parts in behaviour and behaviour development. More specifically the dog owner plays an important role in the development of a dogs temperament as behaviour changes throughout a lifetime due to the dogs experiences during that lifetime. New experiences and stimuli can encourage positive behaviour even if negative experiences have been encountered previously, many abused rescued dogs are rehabilitated and go on to be loyal, well behaved, and problem free companions.