The process of getting a dog is exciting.
You’re imagining all the wonderful cuddles, the walks you’ll take together and how great it will be to have a friend to hang out with whenever you want.
But the decision to get a dog should be made responsibly – and many first-time owners aren’t aware of the many issues surrounding breeding and why it’s imperative to do your research beforehand.
A common discussion in the dog world is whether people should buy dogs, instead of adopting one of the many who are patiently waiting for someone to give them a forever home.
10 Tips for First-Time Dog Owners
This is one of the main arguments for adoption; if customers choose to adopt instead of shop, breeders will be put out of business and less dogs will end up in animal shelters.
However, the blame cannot be put on all breeders, as there are proper ones who take good care of their dogs and have rules in place for prospective buyers, but rather the problem is with backyard breeders, puppy farms and mills.
In these places, the dogs are often treated badly and there are no measures in place to make sure the people who purchase them are fully prepared for the responsibilities that come with owning a dog.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Man’s best friend? Petting a dog and gazing into their eyes releases oxytocin (i.e the “love hormone”) not only for you, but for them as well.
Many will buy a dog from such breeders and having not realised the work they have to put into this new relationship, soon after dump the dogs at shelters or on the street.
According to Dogs Trust UK, 47,500 dogs were abandoned by their owners in 2014 – all of these dogs were taken to council pounds and 5,000 of them were later put down.
‘Each year, Dogs Trust takes thousands of calls from people wanting to give up their dogs,’ a spokesperson from the organisation tells Metro.co.uk.
‘There are many reasons dogs come into the care of our rehoming centres but often it’s because they are purchased without owners doing the proper research to make sure their pet can feasibly fit into their life.
‘Sadly dogs can be a victims of “fast fashion”, especially when bought quickly online with little research or the right questions asked. Rushed sales can leave buyers unaware of how their new dog has been bred or shipped in appalling conditions from overseas purely to meet the demand for cute puppies.
‘Dealers can use fake puppy mums and homes to present a different picture. We would urge anyone looking for a dog to take their time and note our buyer advice to avoid being caught out.’
By not purchasing a dog, you also help prevent overpopulation.
Spay and neuter your pet. Studies have shown that pets that are spayed and neutered live healthier, longer lives. Plus, spayed a neutered pets are less likely to develop behavior problems.
It’s less evident in the UK but in some countries, such as Thailand for instance, abandoned dogs litter the streets, starve, catch diseases and die or end up in rescue shelters.
The situation has sparked a trend in the UK, with many people choosing to adopt and fly dogs over from abroad in order to save them.
However, while this is admirable, some owners then end up leaving rescue dogs at shelters in the UK, because of medical or behavioural issues that they weren’t told about before the dogs were brought over.
‘If you are thinking of getting a new dog it’s important to do your research to avoid supporting unscrupulous breeders,’ Steve Craddock, centre manager at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Better still, consider getting a rescue dog.
‘If you visit your local rescue centre to rehome a dog, you’ll get a full picture of your new pet as it will have had a full medical and behavioural assessment.
‘Unfortunately, this is often not the case when buying a puppy elsewhere, and well-meaning people can end up unintentionally fuelling backstreet breeders and puppy farmers, who benefit hugely from being able to sell puppies online.
‘There are thousands of rescue dogs across the UK who are looking for a second chance at happiness, many of them still under two years old. Rehoming a rescue dog is hugely rewarding and you will be given advice and support to ensure you take home exactly the right pet for you.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: One survey found that 81 percent of cat owners let their felines sleep on the bed, compared to 73 percent of dog owners.
‘However, if you do decide to buy elsewhere, go to a reputable breeder and make sure you see the puppies with their mother first.’
If you really must shop, do so with care.
But if you fancy adopting, take a look here for photos of adorable dogs that are waiting for you at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home right now.