Responsible Dog Ownership Is Trending, But Choosing A Dog Responsibly Isn’t: Making The Right Choices When Buying a Puppy

By Sandor Fagyal, CEO of Wuuff

Millennials are placing more value on pets – in fact, according to Mintel Consumer Trends, three fourths of Americans in their 30s own dogs. You’d think that this would mean the way people find and choose their pedigree playfellows would be better thought out, but it isn’t. Though many people don’t place much importance on the way they choose their dog, it couldn’t be more important.

People actually often impulse buy and make decisions that aren’t always well-informed – often not doing enough research or selecting one that isn’t suitable for their lifestyles, thus making the animal’s life more difficult. Puppy mills are a booming business, too, and the thing is, people don’t always know they are supporting them.

It’s not easy to find reliable information about buying a dog, nor is it particularly easy to find a breeder who is selling dogs responsibly. Of course, adoption is always a good option. But if people do want to buy a purebred dog, they should do so responsibly – or they could be funding a particularly nasty business or making the dog’s life a misery. Let’s delve into people can make well-informed decisions when buying a pooch.

Common mistakes people make when buying a dog 

There are a number of mistakes people make when buying a dog – especially for the first time. Perhaps the most seemingly obvious is whether the dog would suit your lifestyle or not. As mentioned previously, making sure the dog suits you is vital. Because if the dog doesn’t, it won’t just be you that ends up miserable – but the dog, too. In fact, only one in every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home. This is often due to owners not being able to tend to the specific needs of the particular dog they bought for the long term.

An example is this the husky, a breed which became far more fashionable following the popular Game of Thrones series. Actor Peter Dinklage actually teamed up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to warn people about impulse buying – something which undoubtedly leads to more dogs in shelters. If a dog is bought solely because they look good, without realizing how much exercise, food, attention and love they need, the owner and animal could both end up frustrated, leading to a sad ending for all.

Before going ahead and buying a dog, you need to have all the relevant information to hand. But, all too often, it just isn’t there. The dog’s vaccinations, its birth certificate, whether it has been dewormed, if the parents are certified, if the pup has been socialized: these should all be answered when you go to buy a dog. But they rarely are – not in classified ads nor in pet stores. Most dogs you would find in a typical pet store actually don’t come from a good source, but rather puppy mills. When you walk into a pet store, you rarely ask questions because you believe, as they look reputable, that they are legitimate businesses. That’s not to say that they are all illegitimate, but all too often, the proprietor doesn’t do enough research into the breeders that are providing them with the dogs. In fact, a reputable breeder is unlikely to ever sell dogs to pet stores.

With around 10,000 puppy mills in the US and around 2 million dogs are bred in them every year (that is about 200 puppies per puppy mill each year. Given the average litter size of 5 that is 40 litters each year), this horrid industry isn’t going away anytime soon – but we can try and make sure it doesn’t grow.

How to choose a dog responsibly 

So if you are keen to go ahead buying a dog, it needs to be done properly.

To start with, when searching for a reputable place to buy, it’s best to avoid classified ads in newspapers, which often provide little more than a cute photo. A responsible breeder knows to provide the most important information so the buyer doesn’t have to ask. This starts with the parents of the pup: you should be able to see their health, vaccinations, whether they are pedigrees and if they have been socialized.

In many ways, a pedigree acts like a seal of approval – the breeder has put their name to the puppy so it can be traced and contacted easily. A backyard breeder offering no pedigree can walk away afterwards – and there will be nothing connecting him to the dog.

Also, be sceptical of those who claim they are ‘licensed breeders’. Licensing means they meet the state and breeding regulations but say little about the values of the breeder.

Some people even try to find a responsible breeder before deciding on the dog they want. This is a good idea if you really want to be a responsible buyer. Their experience, number of breeds they have had, commitments as a breeder and whether they have a verified kennel name are all things to check.

And know that the breeder, if responsible, should be quizzing you, too. Typically, they should ask you why you want a dog, who will be responsible for the dog’s daily, care and training, what your daily schedule will be like, where you live as well as what rules will be in place. This is the only way an ethical breeder will be able to know if the potential home for the dog will be suitable, or not.

Contracts should also be in order if the breeder is legit, declaring that the buyer will take good care of the dog for the duration of its lifetime.

Socialization, too, is important. A puppy can rarely be rehabilitated to fit into a good homelife if it was kept in a small cage or miserable condition from its birth. It is therefore tantamount to make sure the breeder has, from the puppy’s early days, allowed the dog to socialize with people and other animals. A responsible breeder will be sure to inform you about this.

Choose with your head over your heart 

One needs to use their head and not their heart, when buying a dog. It is common for people to rush into buying a dog because they like the look of it, and this causes problems for both the buyer and the dog. Some people even think they are doing dogs a favour and saving them by going to places like puppy mills. This couldn’t be more wrong. Giving cash to people who profit from animals suffering will only keep them in business and continue the cycle of misery.

By choosing to do things logically, and with extensive research, planning and preparation, you can help you find the right dog and give it – and yourself – a good life.

Guest blogger, Sandor Fagyal, is CEO of Wuuff