Buying a dog is life changing, just as much as starting a family in my opinion. We bought Elmo as a puppy nearly 7 years ago, and put a lot of thought into making sure we opted for the right breed to suit our lifestyle.
Both my husband and I have owned larger dogs in the past. I’d had a Labrador and a Border Collie, he’d had an Alsatian and a Doberman. These were big dogs that needed lots of exercise, dropped plenty of hair, were sometimes quite smelly, and made the logistics of frequent overseas travel rather challenging. Now I’m not saying that Elmo doesn’t need lots of walks, nor that he doesn’t smell (trust me he does when he’s due for a bath!), merely that these were among the many factors we took into consideration before choosing the Chihuahua as our breed.
Today I’d like to share my top tips for buying a dog.
Decide on the size of dog you’d like -
We both travel frequently, either for leisure or with our jobs (including overseas), so this time we wanted a smaller dog. Now that we’re based back in the UK, Elmo comes to work with me. When we were in Switzerland he would go into the office with my husband. When we travel within Europe, Elmo’s size means he can fly with us in the aircraft cabin (and is allowed to walk through the airport to the gate).
Research the breeds -
I found the Kennel Club website very helpful at this stage. They have lots of information of the different breeds. Dogs vary so much, what you might like the look of might not be suitable for your requirements. You don’t want to get a dog that’s characteristics doesn’t suit family homes when you have children! Elmo wasn’t the ideal dog for us, we wanted to start a family and Chihuahua’s are known for not being good with children! Our daughter is now 4 years old and he is starting to allow her to pat him without curling his lip. He doesn’t however tolerate scooters, bikes, roller skates, children running past or children trying to tap him. We’re still working on it after all these years!! It takes time and patience!!
Finding a breeder -
This is a big big must! Make sure you are buying a puppy from a recommended breeder. Be sure to view both parents, look to see if the puppies are kept in a clean area and are being well cared for. If you are unsure with how the puppies or parents are being kept DON’T buy from them!! There are websites that are tailored for breeders and buyer. You have to register to view the dogs details but this ensures the breeders are genuine and not puppy farming!
What to expect when you get home -
Be prepared for a puppy that may cry at night - you have just taken them away from their siblings! Make sure puppy's bed is plastic, it’s easier to keep clean for the first few months. Use old towels to keep it soft then a nice fleece on top. Give them little cuddly toys to make them feel secure at bedtime.
This is very important and should be done from the word go. We ‘crate trained’ Elmo, and put down puppy pads in the early days. He was very easy to house train and only had a couple of accidents in our apartment. Set rules and stick to them, it’s hard to start with when they look at you with those cute little faces but the rewards are worth it. Also socialise your puppy as soon as possible, it helps them and you in the long run.
Now we didn’t take out insurance for Elmo. I’d had policies in the past for our dogs and didn’t really get any benefits from it; but that’s just my experience. I would say if you don’t want to get them insured, open up a savings account to pay a direct debit into each month. That way if you need money for expensive vets bills you have it saved up. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe £10-20 whatever you can afford. The main thing is you have it if you need it!
Finally and most importantly a dog is for life!
Elmo’s life expectancy is over 14 years. I’ve known some to live into their late teens so it’s safe to say we have a good 7 plus years ahead of us all being well.
Dogs quickly become a fully fledged family member that needs as much love and attention as the rest of us. Love them and cherish them xx