Getting a dog, whether a puppy or an adult, is a huge commitment but bringing a canine companion into your home can be incredibly rewarding: dogs are loyal, loving, and constantly by your side whether you have had a good or bad day. In return for their faithful companionship, dogs need their owners to carry out a care of duty from the day they collect him or her through to their twilight years. In short, an elderly dog who requires extra care should be loved by the family just as much as the adorable ten week old puppy you picked up fifteen years ago. If you feel that you can offer a lifetime of love and care to a dog, then a four-legged friend will make a wonderful addition to your household.
When the decision to get a dog is made, the research into which dog will be most suitable must begin. When considering which breed to choose, you must evaluate your home and lifestyle. Some breeds will be better suited than others. For example, the increasingly popular Siberian Husky is a beautiful dog but they require considerable exercise (and not just an hour here and then when you can fit it in) which, when not delivered, leaves these incredibly intelligent dogs looking for other ways to be entertained. Conversely, a retired ex-racing Greyhound will be incredibly happy with a couple of twenty minute walks a day and then occupy the sofa! All dogs require their due exercise, but some need it in larger doses so their owners must work this into their daily routine.
Other considerations that must be evaluated include: small or large breed? Puppy or adult? Dog or bitch? Rescue dog? Short coated breed with minimal grooming or a coated breed requiring regular grooming? Once you have decided on the breed, the next step is to learn as much as you can about them. What are their temperaments like? Are there any known health concerns within the breed? Would a male or a female dog be more appropriate?
So, who do you to turn to for this breed specific knowledge? In the online, instantaneous world that we live in today, it is incredibly tempting to log onto the Internet, carry out a search on your chosen breed, and follow the first website you come across. While there are a host of useful websites available online, the Internet is also home to the advertising of hundreds of puppies from unscrupulous breeders so prospective owners must be incredibly cautious not to be drawn in quickly to buying a puppy.
The Internet can be a good place to start your research, but meeting breeders face to face is the best way for you to ask all the questions you may have about a breed. For example, if you were interested in Italian Greyhounds, you would probably contact the Rescue Charity along with the Italian Greyhound Club. The next point of call could be attending an event where established breeders are known to be. The IGC hosts three shows a year where you can meet lots of IGs and talk to their owners. In addition, Crufts and Discover Dogs are two major canine events where breed booths are manned by specialists who can provide further advice about the breed.
By attending one or more of these events, you can hopefully get to know a couple of breeders and maybe register your interest in a puppy or older dog. They will probably invite you to visit their home, to see their dogs relaxed in their domestic environment. This opportunity allows prospective owners to see the dogs’ natural behaviour – are they a very relaxed breed or overexcitable? How is the breeder looking after their dogs? Will similar adaptions need to be made to your property to make it a suitable environment for a new dog? Is the breed what you expected it to be like? Any second thoughts? If any doubts arise in your mind, this investigative stage is the best time for them to be listened to. Getting a dog and then discovering you are not compatible leads to heartache for both the dog and the family.
Similarly, when visiting a breeder, they will ask you several questions about your home and what you could offer as a prospective owner to one of their dogs. It is essential that a good relationship establishes between a breeder and the owners of their dogs: the breeder is entrusting the new owner with one of their precious puppies, and likewise the owner needs to know that the breeder is a dependable source of advice and information should, at any stage in their dog’s life, they require assistance. Breeders should not cut off new owners as soon as they receive the money for their puppy.
So, you’ve decided that Italian Greyhounds are the right breed for you, and you want a puppy – what next? You will need to be patient. Established IG breeders in the UK do not breed frequently so you will need to wait for the right litter to be produced. Once born, you may like to visit the puppies when they are about six weeks old so that you can see your puppy with his mother and litter mates. Then, the collection date can be arranged. Puppies should not leave their dam until they are at least eight weeks old – this is a legal requirement. Most IG breeders prefer to wait until their puppies are slightly older: for IGs it is recommended that puppies remain with their dam until twelve weeks old allowing them to fully interact with their mother which can make training them later on easier. Therefore, if a breeder offers you to take a puppy before he or she is eight weeks old, you should be alarmed. Similarly, if the breeder is money focused, demanding deposits and pre-payments, this should also be a source for concern. And if a breeder refuses to let you visit their home, preferring to meet at a third party location, alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear.
As a new owner, you should see your puppy with their mother and litter mates, you should never feel pressurised to purchase, and you should not ignore any negative gut feelings you may have. Choosing the right puppy or dog, from the right breeder, at the right time, is central to both your dog’s happiness and your own.