Choosing a Breeder/Rescue
I always recommend that before people buy a puppy from a breeder, they check with their local pounds and rescues to see if there is a dog that might match their lifestyle. Rescues put all their efforts into making sure the dog doesn’t ever go back into the shelter system, and generally will try as hard as possible to match you to the right dog. Although a majority of the dogs in rescues have unknown pasts, there is also a fair amount that are simple owner surrenders that aren’t necessarily the dog's fault, from being faced to move to being unable to handle the costs of the dog. There are a LOT of great dogs in shelters that just might need a bit of extra care during the beginning to fix any negative learned behaviors.
While I am an avid advocate for #AdoptDontShop, I understand the troubles that come along with a dog with an unknown past. The amount of work it can take to help rehabilitate an older dog from a rescue situation can sometimes be more than people want to deal with, which is why I think it is also important to talk about finding a good, reputable breeder. If you do choose to go with a breeder, it is your responsibility to choose one that is truly doing it for the quality of the breed, and not as an unlimited profit resource. Puppy mills and backyard breeders are very good at disguising themselves as quality breeding establishments, which is why the best plan of action is to talk directly to your local vet or dog trainer to get a recommendation for a quality breeder.
Preparing Your Home
You are definitely going to go through the potty training stage with a puppy and shouldn’t trust a shelter dog for the first couple days, which is why puppy or not, it is a good idea to puppy proof your home. There are many ways to speed through the house-breaking process, but that could be it's own post entirely! It’s a good idea to start with a crate and an alarm clock, as confinement and consistently going outside every couple hours, even during the night, is key to a quick housebreaking process. When picking out a crate, make sure to get one that is big enough that your dog or puppy can comfortably stand and turn around, but not too much larger than that, dogs won’t go in such a small area as they don’t want to ‘go’ where they are sleeping. In addition to puppy proofing its is important to get all the products you need for your new pup.
Here is a simple list of all the items needed for first time dog owners:
Bed or Blanket
Flat Collar and ID Tags
Food and water bowls
Food - it is usually best to keep dogs on the same diet they were on wherever they were previously in order to slowly transition them to your preferred food for them, this reduces stomach upset.
E-collar, not recommended unless you have received instruction from a professional on how to utilize properly.
Sweater/jacket for short-coated or small dogs
Training package with reputable local trainer
Congratulations on making the leap! Welcoming a new dog or puppy is a roller coaster of emotions, and after the honeymoon phase is over it can be extremely frustrating until you and your new pup are on the same page with training. Getting a trainer sooner rather than later can help leaps and bounds with this process, and some rescue dogs come with discounted training programs from the rescue or a trainer that works with the rescue!