Should I Get a Puppy or a Dog?

In This Article

  • When you should bring your dog home
  • Finding a breeder versus going to the shelter or pet store
  • How to pick your puppy out of a litter
  • A temperament test to take with you
  • Selecting an older dog

Dogs are a major responsibility! If you’re reading this article, you’re off to a good start. Though getting a dog is definitely one of life’s most exciting moments, please read this article carefully before you jump in headfirst. There are a few things, including a puppy temperament test, you should become familiar with ahead of time.

What’s the Best age To Bring Home a Dog or Puppy?

The best age to get a dog or puppy depends on one thing: whether you’re getting a dog or puppy. If you’re getting a puppy, the best age is between 8 and 12 weeks. If you’re getting a dog, you may have a few surprises in store; old habits might need some correcting. So unless you’re sure you’ve picked out a perfect peach, the younger, the better.

Getting a Puppy

Many experts will tell you to bring a puppy home when it’s between 6 and 8 weeks old, but I hold my “8 to 12-week” ground. Six-week-old pups nip and play in an early attempt to define a hierarchy. They even use mom as a biting bag, but she puts them in their place and teaches them respect. Respect is a good lesson for them to have learned before you bring them home. They’re also just developing bladder control; waiting for a little more of that has benefits far beyond my casual explanation.

If you’re getting a puppy older than 10, make sure the breeder has “socialized” it by introducing it to everyday situations: people, sounds, and so on. An unsocialized pup may go to pieces around strange new things like vacuums, cars, or new people and grow up to become a nervous dog. If you get a dog who misbehaves, be understanding.

Bad habits result from not knowing what was expected from him in his last home. This dog will need a lot of patience and training. Remember, harsh discipline only creates more problems. Hyper Isolation Anxiety (HIA) is anxiety, canine style, that occurs when you leave your dog alone.

It usually starts within minutes of separation and may (in severe cases) continue until you come home. HIA may cause destructive behavior like chewing, barking, or house-soiling.

Getting a Dog

If you’re getting a dog, you may have a few bad habits to deal with. This isn’t a bad thing, but, at the same time, I don’t want to leave you thinking all older dogs act like Lassie.

Dogs are more set in their ways, like people. If “their way” jives with your lifestyle, then you’re all set; if not, you may have some initial problems. For example, if you work all day and find an older dog who’s accustomed to being left alone, you’ll be set. If, however, you get a dog that has Hyper Isolation Anxiety or one who learned bad manners in his last home, you may have some big-time regrets when you come through the door of your home.

Here are some questions you should ask before bringing your dog home:

  • How old is this dog?
  • Has he had any training?
  • How many homes has he had? If more than one, why?
  • Do you know of any bad habits I may encounter: barking, housesoiling, aggression, chewing?

I’m not arguing against love at first sight. Just know the cards you’re dealt beforehand.