Table of Contents
Do Your Homework: Breed Research
Are you an up and coming first time puppy owner? Congratulations on your selfless commitment! Raising a puppy is one of the best experiences we will ever see in our human lifetimes.
That being said, it’s pretty easy to forget, or not even consider at all, the sacrifices we’ll need to make or time we’ll need to devote. All too often, first time owners find themselves unprepared.
Become Familiar with the Breed
Learn as much as you can about the breed you want to adopt! The more you know, the easier raising your new best friend will be.
What was originally bred for? Does he have a double coat and tend to shed, or a longer single coat? What are the grooming requirements for the breed? What about exercise requirements, and can you meet them? Is the breed better for country life with wide open spaces where he can run and play freely, or is he suited for city/apartment life?
- Is he going to be too energetic for you?
- Is he going to bark too much for your neighborhood?
- Are you able to meet his daily exercise demands?
Adopting a Dog?
Are you thinking about adopting a dog? You can use websites like SPCA to browse potential adoptions! Before you decide on the new family member, there are a few things to consider before getting a dog.
- Is the adoption good with children or multiple people?
- Has your rescue suffered past trauma?
- Is your upcoming adoption housetrained, or trained in any other way?
- What information can the rescue or adoption agency provide about this dog’s backstory?
- Has the rescue been de-wormed, spayed, neutered, and received recommended vaccinations?
Most rescues will charge an adoption fee, regardless of the breed. This is to cover vaccinations, medical care and food/housing. If your rescue of choice charges significantly more, be sure to ask why!
Purchasing a Dog from a Breeder?
Many people will want the insurances of a credible breeder for their puppies. Opting for a dog breeder should ensure your puppy has a strong family history of great health and good genetics. These are usually going to be pure-bred dogs and maintain the most desirable traits of the breed.
Is your Breeder credible, and is he/she registered? Many credible dog breeders are affiliated with major breed registries, like the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club or affiliated registry. Make sure your breeder is able to provide paperwork ensuring this relationship.
*Note* there are many registry out there some are not credible and often used by puppy mills.
Unfortunately, thousands of dogs are bred by ‘backyard breeders’ who often don’t follow recommended practices, like genetically testing both dam and sire, and lack both the experience and education.
Genetic testings : Vetgen, Embark,MYDOGDNA, UCLDAVIS
Health Testings : OFA
Is your breeder able to provide medical history paperwork?
Is your breeder able to provide vaccination paperwork?
Is your breeder willing to answer your questions?
Does the breeder have several good reviews by other satisfied customers?
Are you able to meet or view the parents of your new pup?
Does your breeder ask questions of you and your living situation? All responsible breeders should desire to ensure their pups go to good families. If your breeder doesn’t bother asking you any questions, he doesn’t care about the puppies in his care beyond financial products.
Purchasing from a Pet Shop
Before you purchase that adorable kitten in the window, or that lovable puppy you just can’t pass by, be sure to know where they came from. If the store owner either isn’t able to tell you the exact method of obtaining the animal, or can’t provide documented proof, moving on would be best.
Believe it or not, many pet shops will purchase animals from ‘puppy and kitten mill’ type breeders. Mill breeders will mass breed animals, often in substandard living conditions, solely for profit. The animals that are not valuable are often euthanized. Medical care is usually poor. Because of the poor breeding methods, animals may be ‘inbred’, vastly increasing the risk of medical disorders.
That puppy may be thrilled to see you and might just be the cutest thing in the world, but adopting it could carry significant future costs (sometimes reaching into the tens of thousands). Purchasing these animals will only encourage the pet store to continue to purchase from their low-cost mill breeders, which in turn will support these puppy and kitten mills.
- If you do purchase from a pet store, ensure the animal came from either a rescue or a credible breeder who is concerned with its wellbeing.
The only way to stop this situation and convince mills to stop breeding is to stop purchasing the animals bred there. If pet shops can’t turn a profit, they will cease buying these dogs and cats, and the breeder will stop breeding animals that can’t earn money.
These puppies need homes too and are completely innocent. It is not their fault they were bred in a puppy mill. It is an extremely sad ‘catch 22’ situation!
Are you willing to take a risk for them, knowing what you know now? Remember who you ultimately support when buying that pet store puppy.
Research Proper Training Techniques Beforehand
A little bit of preparation works wonders, especially for first time dog owners! Think of this like a test you’re studying for. You always perform so much better if you know what you’re getting into.
Dog training is a little bit like a spelling test! Preparing yourself beforehand eliminates the stress of ‘not knowing’. The more you repeat a training activity, the easier, less complicated it will seem! For example, read a little bit about house training before you have to attempt it (it only takes a few minutes).
Vaccinations & Vet Care
Objects to Purchase
DHPP Core Vaccines (series)
Rabies Vaccine (every 1-3 years)
Base Vet Visit Fees
Monthly Heartworm Preventative
Monthly Antiparasitic (flea, tick)
Regular Veterinarian Visits
Any Injury/Illness Care
Consider Pet Medical Insurance
Dog Leash & Collar/Harness
Dog Food (repeated expense)
Other grooming tools
Dog car seat
Dog water bottle
Travel food/water bowls
Collapsible ‘dog pool’, designed for pets
Xylitol (artificial sweetener in many human foods -very toxic)
Know Your Housing Requirements
Some breeds, especially larger breeds, are considered ‘dangerous animals’ (even though they probably aren’t) and not allowed in many apartment complexes that do allow dogs at all. Even if they are allowed, many higher energy dogs might not do too well in a busy city with heavy traffic.
Financial Requirements & Stability
Owning a pet isn’t cheap! Sure, it is cheaper than a human child by a long shot, but you still have several considerations. You’ll pay for veterinary care, vaccinations, monthly heartworm and flea/tick preventative, food, toys, and anything else you happen to encounter.
Avg. Monthly Cost: S$200-400
Perfect Example: The Cost of Heartworm Preventatives
Before we get into the cost, let’s cover a little about what ‘Heartworm’ is. Much like the name, a parasitic roundworm, spread via mosquitoes, can mature inside your pet’s heart, pulmonary arteries and adjacent large blood vessels. When mature, these worms look a lot like spaghetti noodles. It’s safe to say they can get pretty long!
Eventually, the parasites will clog these blood vessels and impair circulation. If not treated, Heartworm will ultimately cause the death of your pet. The treatment is very expensive, might not even save an animal in the end, and can cause problems in itself. It is MUCH less costly to simply purchase monthly preventatives.
The avg. monthly cost is only S$16-30, but testing is required and most preventatives are sold in a three month supply. That is S$50-80 per pet, which can easily add up.
Core Vaccines for Puppies (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza): S$50-70
Rabies (Legally Mandated in many areas): S$40-60
Author’s Note: I’m a member of a veterinary group, established to answer dog related medical questions/concerns and composed of volunteer vets from various countries globally. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen owners pose a question concerning a major health problem right before claiming they simply can’t afford veterinary care for whatever reason.
Now, things happen and sometimes you are just unable to afford care. I certainly understand there are always exceptions! Still, it frustrates me to no end when it comes to a severe issue that can drastically impact a dog’s quality of life and might even lead to euthanasia if not treated by a veterinary professional, but the handler ‘just can’t afford veterinary care’.
Many of these situations involve critical surgeries, running in the thousands. Thankfully, many companies offer pet insurance!
Weather Where You Live
What part of the world do you live in, and what is the climate like in this area?
Immagine an African Basenji, or a Peruvian Hairless, for this example. These dogs are very well suited to hot, arid climates! Many hairless dogs will even sweat similarly to humans. It is safe to say, these two breeds would suffer cold injuries very easily. Consider frostbite or hypothermia, two conditions common in dogs left outside to endure elements they aren’t suited for.
Wolves adapted double coats to help trap in cool air during the summer months, which helps them stay cool even now. The double coats on many of our northern breeds (i.e. Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed) will have a similar effect.
Just a Few of the Many Breeds
Hot Weather Dogs
Cold Weather Dogs
German Shorthaired Pointer
‘Many’ Small-Toy Breeds
Bernese Mountain Dog
- Hairless breeds are susceptible to sunburns.
- Never shave a double coated breed.
Crate Training (for safety when can’t observe, also helpful for potty training)
House ‘Potty’ Training
Puppy-proof House for Teething
Bite Inhibition Training- Teach puppy to avoid human skin
Puppy ‘Obedience’ Classes with Other Puppies
These above are only the most recommended puppy training ‘techniques’. Dogs are highly intelligent and can be trained to do nearly anything! Your puppy’s brain has reached around 80% of its development by week 20, which is when he is more receptive to more advanced training.
Pets can be Time Consuming
Pet adoption doesn’t simply stop at ‘adoption’. There will be countless hours spent training (especially with puppies), not including the hours spent researching training techniques. You’ll need to devote time for veterinary visits. Then there are daily walks (which you really shouldn’t skimp on) and trips to the dog park, before you have everyday play time.
House Training: Avg Time Required- 4-6 months
A.K.A. Potty training, this can seem pretty frustrating for the first-time dog owner! Even longtime pet owners can have a hard time. Thankfully, there is one very precise technique recommended across the board to make it easy.
This technique recommends a handler leash their puppy by their side during training all day, every day. This is done so the handler can quickly and easily run the pup outside, correcting any potential mistakes right away. Unfortunately, most adults (prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic) had to leave their homes for jobs and could not devote their attention.
If the process is done exactly right, all recommended steps followed precisely, it may only take a few weeks to fully potty train a pup. This usually isn’t the case.
Crate Training: Avg. Time Required 1-2 Weeks Plus
We crate train our puppies so they don’t get into trouble while we’re not around! Anyone who's raised a puppy knows how easily that can happen. If you’re not careful, say goodbye to any electrical cords low enough to reach, couch cushions, antique furniture...
You cannot just crate your puppy for long hours at a time with no preparation, however. This can be frightening, and cause separation anxiety. In order to avoid separation anxiety, you’ll have to slowly desensitize your pup to being alone.
Socialization is Important!
Are you a ‘people person’? Many dog owners aren’t, and some avoid people at all costs.
So, why did I ask that question? Why in the world would you need to be a ‘people person’ to own a dog? If you ever teach your puppy anything at all, socialization should be among the most important things! In fact, many behaviorists would say it is the most important aspect of dog training, should continue through the life of the dog, and begins at puppyhood.
Socialization: Gradually introducing a puppy to his or her surrounding environment, so the little one grows accustomed to everyone and everything it may meet. Socialization helps prevent a dog from becoming anxious around other dogs, or people, for example.
Make sure every encounter is a fun one!
Avoid any negative or punishment related training during those first few months
The Cost of Dog Food
When it comes to dog kibble, you really get what you pay for. 30lb. (13.6 kg.) package costing $50 is almost always going to be lower quality, mostly composed of corn and other filler. The highest quality dog kibble on the market can run you S$150 for a 25lb. Package. Then there are, of course, hundreds of options in between!
Do you know what you want to feed your puppy? Do you know what is really in that dog food, why it is or is not great for the pup, and what your puppy really needs?
For those of you opting for a home cooked meal, nutritional research is extremely important! It seems like ‘raw’ diets are gaining momentum (for example), but there are some hefty drawbacks to not cooking meats- especially for a puppy. Outside of that, you will want to make sure you’re providing a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
- If the breeder has transitioned to dry puppy food, it may be more beneficial to continue that brand. Puppies can develop intestinal upset if you switch their foods too quickly. If you truly wish to transition to a different dog food brand, slowly mix in portions of the new food with the old (rather than switching completely too rapidly).
Popular Puppy Names
-What will you name your new dog? Why that name?