Dog 101, Part 3 : Breeders vs. Adopting a Dog

The Internet and classifieds are filled with advertisements for breeders, so finding someone trustworthy with experience can be tricky. If you’re going the purebred route, it is essential to acquire your dog from a reputable breeder. Dogs bred in the wrong environment can cause significant behavior and health issues that can cost you money and even heartbreak.

The best way to find a breeder is through local dog care professionals. 

If you talk to your local professionals they can help point you in the right direction. Look to veterinarians, kennel clubs, dog trainers, pet care facilities and even at local dog shows for recommendations. Most reputable breeders will have a relationship with these people, or at the very least these people will know enough of a breeder’s reputation to give you an educated opinion.

Always, always, always (we’d say it one more time but that would just be redundant) tour the breeding facility. If a breeder will not let you tour the facility you should leave immediately. Puppies should not be raised in cages isolated from the family. Socialization in puppies begins between 3 and 8 weeks. This is the time for pups to learn important things such as bite inhibition and other social cues from their mother and littermates. If the breeder has them longer than 8 weeks, or if you bring the dog home between 8 and 16 weeks the puppies should be exposed to multiple stimulation, people, other animals, children and even different environments. Bottom line: the puppies should be raised in a home as part of the family, and the environment should always be safe and clean.

Now that you know how to find a breeder, it’s important to understand that many breeds are predisposed to health issues. As always, talk to your local veterinarians and do your own breed research to understand these concerns and possibilities. When talking to the breeder, ask to see health certificates for the parents and grandparents. You can also ask for references from their veterinarian to ensure proper care and genetic testing has been done. Most reputable breeders will make you sign a contract stipulating that you will return the dog to them if any major health issues exist. The breeder should also have an open return policy if you are dissatisfied with the dog for any reason.

Big Mac and fries or filet and a salad: we know what’s healthy for us, but it’s just as important to fuel your pups with healthy food. You can do research at an independent site such as petfoodadvisor.com to figure out which food you prefer. These sites will educate you on foods and what will work best for the dog. Remember: veterinarians are not dog nutritionists; reach out to a nutritionist for any additional questions. This kind of research is important, as you want to make sure that the breeder is feeding the dogs a premium food.

Also, do not let the breeder force you to use any one type of food. Many foods at many different price points can serve the dog well. Ensure you have the freedom to make decisions that will best serve the needs of the dog.

Finally it is time to meet the parents, but don’t worry, it shouldn’t involve pretending to like mom’s cooking or hearing about dad’s extensive firearms collection. It is important to meet as many of the puppy’s relatives as possible to see if any undesirable qualities exist (like possessiveness over toys or food aggression). Bring your children to play if applicable. Adults that are not social or are food aggressive may pass this behavior on to the pups. This is why meeting the mother is a necessity, but you can also ask to interact with the father and any adult siblings that might be on the premises. It’s also a good idea to ask for references on other litters that were sired by the same combination.

If you are one of the many people who want to adopt, the last thing to understand is if your potential adoptee was mistreated by his or her former owner. Dogs that were abused in their previous environment most likely will have some serious behavior issues due to lack of trust. These types of dogs need extra effort and patience in order to regain the dog’s trust. Most abused dogs will display fear and may act overly aggressive to everyday situations. Sudden movements, loud sounds, and even raised voices could startle the dog and cause him to become defensive because of his past. Previously abused dogs also tend to cower in corners and hide under objects in order to find a safe space. There’s also the worry that past violence could trigger outward aggression towards people and other animals. That being said, adopting a dog that was previously abused can be a very rewarding situation, just remember that extra care and time will be required, so take that into consideration when you are choosing.  Of course, not all dogs in shelters were abused. There are many friendly, well-adjusted dogs available just waiting to find their forever families. Our experts believe the best way to find the right shelter dog is to volunteer at local rescues and work with the dogs for many sessions before taking one home with you. Becoming a foster home is another way to help dogs as well as find your match.

Clearly there’s a lot of forethought and information that needs to be considered before bringing home your next fur baby. Trainers always says that no matter what, proper socialization and training will still be the best way to ensure a good relationship between you and your new dog.