Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Puppy

Why You Shouldn't Buy a Puppy

Eat All the Shoes! Photo Credit: MythicSeabass cc

Puppies are adorable. You look at their cute little wrinkled faces and the way they bound around and lick your face and it’s hard to resist wanting one.

However, there are so so many people who buy puppies and just don’t realize how much they are going to have to put into raising him so that he doesn’t turn into a frustrating and annoying adult dog.

I feel so much concern for those puppies that people buy and then things get hard and they don’t have the resources to follow through. That puppy becomes an adult dog that gets put down. What a sad life to give to a dog.

And so, please don’t buy a puppy. Here’s a breakdown of why not:

You Don’t Have the Money to Buy a Quality Puppy

Look, there are too many dogs in this world already. Most likely, you’ve been looking at puppies from some random guy on the classifieds trying to sell them for $500 because they have “papers.” Well, I’m here to tell you that “papers” don’t mean crap about a dog. You might as well buy a mixed breed as buy a puppy from what is called a “backyard breeder.”

Backyard breeders don’t know a thing about breed type or breeding for temperament. They’re people who said to themselves, “I have a girl dog, where’s a boy dog so I can make puppies?” Their puppies are not uniform in temperament or in whether they follow a breed standard, so who knows what your puppy will look or act like. You don’t have any idea about the health of your puppy either. These breeders don’t care if their puppies end up in a shelter to die some day. They don’t care if their puppy ends up having expensive health problems.

Even worse than backyard breeders are puppy mills. These are cruel people who keep their dogs in tiny cages, forcing them to have litter after litter, not worrying about health or quality of life for the animals. They’re bred until they die. The puppies are usually neglected and may very easily carry something awful like parvo. These puppies are the puppies that usually end up in pet shops, but can sometimes be sold on classifieds through a broker… basically, someone takes the pups home and pretends that they’re not from a puppy mill.

A good breeder has health tested their dogs extensively and only breed healthy dogs together. They have a reason behind breeding two dogs together and they produce puppies infrequently. They spend time making sure their dogs are worth breeding as outstanding examples of the breed in several ways – health, temperament and then form or function (and they get opinions from impartial sources.) You can be pretty sure what you’re getting from a good breeder is a good, healthy, solid puppy and if it’s not, the breeder will not allow their puppy to be dropped at a shelter. They will want the puppy back. They are conscientious.

Now, here’s the thing. Buying from a good breeder that isn’t just filling the world with more animals of dubious quality for fun and/or profit is fairly expensive. The dogs that I have bought from reputable breeders are around $1000, but it has been worthwhile to me to not support puppy mills and backyard breeders, along with having health guarantees and knowing what type of dog they will be. However, just because a dog has a $1k price tag doesn’t automatically mean the puppy is worth that much! Make sure you do your research on the breed and what health tests should have been done on the parents as well as what titles they have. Look for a breeder that guarantees their puppies and will take them back.

You Don’t Have the Money to Maintain a Puppy

Maintaining a puppy is expensive! Let me list here:

– Good kennel or ex-pen
– Pillow/blankets
– Toys
– Vet bills (vaccinations, health checkups, sickness, injury, etc)
– Treats
– Grooming supplies (brushes/shampoos/dremel)
– Collar and leash
– Food bowls
– Good quality puppy food to avoid health problems and allergies (for a growing, large breed puppy this can be $80 + a month, but is definitely worth the investment)
– Training classes (this will cost several hundred dollars)
– Replacing stuff that the puppy chews up or pees on

And I’m sure I’m forgetting something else, but there you go. Training classes are the most significant expense, but they are the best investment you can make, so if you really must buy a puppy, plan to pay and make time for a full course of classes.

You Don’t Have Time

Bored Puppy

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Socializing and training a puppy takes a lot of time. As a puppy is learning, you need to be consistent with your expectations for behavior to set habits for later. You need to be aware of good behavior to give it a name. This means you always need to be in a training mindset, as well as setting aside several times almost every day to work on specific commands until your puppy has learned to be well-behaved. You also get to worry about potty training!

On top of training, you need to socialize your puppy. This means taking your puppy everywhere. Just having him hang out with your visitors is not enough. You need to go for walks to the grocery store (but not inside), to Home Depot or Lowes, to parks that allow dogs (on lead), to puppy playgroups, to all sorts of different places and situations so your puppy can get used to people, other dogs, and different places and surfaces. It needs to be done consistently while your puppy is small because he will quickly grow out of the period where he can be socialized easily.

Then, on top of that, you need to stimulate your puppy by playing with him and helping him get his energy out. You have to take time every day to take him on short walks, play fetch or tug or chase. You can’t leave a wiggly, energetic little puppy in his kennel all day to be ignored and he’s not trustworthy enough to be let run around by himself, so you have to be able to watch him.

Last of all, you have to take the time to groom your puppy and get him used to being touched everywhere. Touch feet, tail, face, belly, teeth all over. Don’t forget to brush his fur and to get him used to a Dremel (which you will have to do weekly, by the way.)

You Don’t Have the Patience for Puppy Behaviors

Puppies can be complete hellions. They are incredibly adorable, but they are like two-year-olds. They nip and bite. They can’t control their energy and they have boundless amounts of it. They jump and climb on things. They chew and chew and chew. They bark, they dig. They bounce away from you when you are trying to get them to come. They rip your clothes. They howl in their kennels at night. They wake up early in the morning to go to the bathroom and then don’t want to go back to sleep. They don’t ever seem to listen. They might pee and poo all over your house.

And, just so you know, it can take two or more years for them to grow out of some of these behaviors!

Definitely Don’t Buy a Puppy for These Reasons:

– If you expect your children to do all the raising/taking care of the puppy. You need to be prepared to step in if they don’t.
– Because you want to have a dog to breed.
– Because you want to have a reason to exercise (puppies can’t run far until they’re a year old. It’s too hard on their joints. Also, if you’re not exercising already, a puppy will not help you be motivated for long. They also really suck at running in a straight line until they’re trained to walk on a loose leash.)
– If you are one of those people that “loves” dogs, but by that you mean you want your dog to live in the backyard or on a chain quietly with no one ever paying attention to them.
– Because puppies are just sooooooo cute.

There are Rescue Dogs Out There – Save a Life

Adopt a Shelter Dog

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Don’t forget the rescue or shelter dogs (or even adult dogs that reputable breeders have for placement)! Adult dogs can be so awesome. You’re past the initial annoying behavior stage of chewing, howling, potty training, etc. Rescue dogs are especially great because the dogs have been placed with foster families. Problem areas and behavioral issues will often then have been identified and generally addressed, or you will be made aware of how to address them and given support in doing so. Rescues are often breed specific, so if you’re set on a certain breed, you can find them easily there and get advice from people that have worked extensively with that breed.

Shelters can also provide great dogs, though you may have to work a bit with them to identify if a dog has any issues before taking him home. For sure, those dogs extremely rarely have temperament or socialization issues, as the shelter won’t put temperamentally problematic dogs out to be adopted. Most dogs from shelters are great though, and you can feel good knowing you possibly saved a life.

As a personal anecdote, my current German Shepherd, though not a rescue or from a shelter, was a long-time stray in a certain neighborhood. When we met him, we knew he was the dog for us. He didn’t bark when we walked up to the gate. He was so calm and relaxed with us, just gently and sweetly asking to be petted. We don’t know his health history and he certainly wasn’t a show dog or anything, but I feel I can evaluate temperament pretty well. He is a fantastic dog and with a tiny bit of training, he’s been the perfect pet.

Now, when I was looking for a German Shepherd (and I did look at the shelter, but there weren’t any there for some reason and rescue was too expensive), I often saw the puppies in the classifieds (I had to look at them, because they’re adorable), but I knew I couldn’t afford a well-bred puppy. I knew I also didn’t really want to deal with puppy behaviors. I was reminded that there is always the temptation to go the cheap, easy, cute way, but because I’ve gone through that before, I knew it would be a disservice to myself, to the puppy, to the breed and to the full-to-the-brim dog world to buy a puppy from a backyard breeder. And so I looked for an adult dog that needed a good home instead. And it worked out great for us. I will definitely be looking for adult dogs in the future, and while it isn’t for everyone, I encourage you to research it too instead of getting a puppy. Save a life if you can, instead of encouraging more to be created. 🙂

If You Still Want to Buy a Puppy

Buying a puppy is a great way to know what you’re getting as far as health and temperament (if you get him from a good breeder.) You’ll also know the puppy’s history, since you’ll be the only owner, and you will be able to mold the behaviors you need from him (like if he needs to be good with cats and kids.)

It’s just really important to know it won’t be easy. You’ll want to give up on your puppy (sometimes they are so frustrating!), or you’ll start to lose interest in training your puppy. As your puppy gets older, he’ll become less cute. You need to push through and commit like you would with a child, because when you’ve gotten past the hard part, you’ll have a great adult dog to live with your family through the years.

So please: don’t buy a puppy without being really prepared to spend lots of moola, time and patience. I hope this scared you off or at least made you think more seriously. 😉

This reminds me, what do you think about the quote “Don’t Breed or Buy While Shelter Pets Die”?

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