Choosing a puppy to join the family is a thoughtful process that every pet parent experiences. It's wise to take time to decide what breed or mixed breed of puppy will fit into your lifestyle. Determining what energy level, size, temperament and behavioral traits are best suited for you, your family and your environment is key to finding the perfect fit for the new addition to your family.
Consider the size of your house, apartment, townhouse or condominium. Indoor space should be large enough for the puppy to run, jump and play comfortably. Outdoor space is important for growing puppies; the size of the yard and nearby parks should give a soon-to-be pet parent an idea of how much exercise your new puppy will be able to achieve in his new surroundings. Typically, smaller homes and yards should house only smaller dog breeds, while larger larger homes and yards are suitable for both large and small breeds. Focus on the size the dog breed will be at full maturity; visualize if they will fit in your home comfortably.
Seek out the local humane society, shelters, breeders, pet stores, private pet adoption organizations and rescue centers to find the new addition to your family. When visiting a facility observe the behavior of the staff, notice the level of cleanliness throughout the store, inquire if they provide puppies that come from ASPCA-approved breeders, check if they are able to provide the health status of the puppy's parents and ask about potential health issues. Find out what vaccinations have already been given and if they offer a warranty of good health. Pet handlers and staff should be eager to answer your questions and provide as much detail about their facility and puppies as possible. Keep in mind that shelters and rescue organizations might have limited information on the puppy.
Check if the puppy is energetic, playful and alert. Observe if the puppy's eyes are clean, clear and bright -- void of cloudiness when looking directly into their eyes. Puppies should have a healthy-looking body that appears well fed with quiet breathing. Check for warning signs such as baldness, dandruff, oily skin, limping, injuries, excessive coughing, sneezing and discharge coming out of the eyes, nostrils, ears and genital or anus area. These warning signs are symptoms of potential health problems or proof of lack of care for the puppy. Many pet parents seek out puppies who are in distress or have physical problems with the intention of helping them heal and providing a healthy lifestyle that will help the puppy grow into a healthy, happy adult.
Find a puppy with a personality that will fit well with your other family members. If young children live in the home, it's best to find a puppy that doesn't have aggressive behavior, especially when touched. Young children may tug on ears and tails or strongly grab at the puppy for a great big hug. The puppy of choice should be calm and relaxed when being handled by humans. When meeting a puppy for the first time, a potential pet parent should observe his behavior, focusing on how he plays with other puppies, the overall interaction with humans and if any negative or aggressive behavior is present.
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