When I am out delivering 'Taking the Lead' sessions throughout Scotland and even in my personal life, I am always asked for advice about getting a dog or sometimes specifically a puppy…
I am passionate about our dogs at Dogs Trust and about “adopt don’t shop” in general, and I would always urge people to rescue or at least visit their local Dogs Trust to meet some of our amazing dogs and see how many different shapes, sizes, ages and breeds of dogs we really have. Many people are very surprised as they have a preconceived idea that all rescue dogs are going to “have issues” and be hard work which is very often not the case.
Having my own Dogs Trust dog, Alfie, who is a super sociable, sunny natured wee Collie, I can safely say having a rescue dog is one of the most wonderful, rewarding and heart-warming experiences of my whole life and I would highly recommend it!
However some people would prefer to buy a puppy from a breeder, particularly if they are looking for a specific breed. If this is the route you are going to go down it is so important that you understand all the responsibilities that come with owning a dog (often for the next 10–15 years) as well as the risks of buying online. Particularly as its likely you are unsure of what you are looking for or the questions you should be asking.
Recently a friend of a friend was looking for a puppy, which was a surprise in itself as this lady has a very busy working life. She is a very busy mum and is in the process of looking for a new job which of course will mean a huge change in routine and lots of upheaval. This alone would already seem like a challenging time, as well as deciding to bring a new puppy into your home! New puppies need loads of attention, training and socialisation in their early formative weeks and months. On top of this her children have never had a dog before, so it is hugely important she take the time to work with them, so that they know how to treat their dog kindly and with respect.
However, she was determined she was getting a puppy and had seen a puppy on a well-known buy and sell website and had arranged to pick it up the following Saturday. As soon as I saw the advert the puppies were listed on, I thought they looked familiar and sure enough when I searched the internet, they were the first puppy pictures that showed up as soon as I popped the breed into my search engine. Even after explaining this to her, she was determined to go and see the puppies. Eventually the night before she was due to collect it, they phoned her to ask to bring the puppy to her as they “had a burst pipe"... Finally, the lady saw sense and told them "no thanks"! She had a narrow escape this time, as the reality is these puppies are very likely being bred illegally in very poor conditions purely for profit - and the sellers have since been reported.
Whilst this lady had the very best of intentions and just wanted a puppy that could grow up with her children and be very loved indeed, but without knowing or understanding the risks of buying online the consequences can be heart breaking. As we see so often, it is likely that the puppies could be very ill through irresponsible breeding and very often they are far too young to be away from their mummy in the first place.
If you are looking to buy a puppy, Dogs Trust have published some fantastic guidelines that contain lots of information about what you should be asking and looking for. Please follow this link for some super advice.
Dogs Trust have also launched a new campiagn called 'Dogfishing' which aims to reduce the number of illegally imported puppies being mis-sold via online ads. To learn more about this campaign, follow this link.
The illegal puppy trade has to stop! It is one of the many ways that we can help reduce the number of puppies and dogs being abandoned and mistreated every year in the UK.
Meanwhile here is a picture of Dogs Trust rescue Alfie, loving life in his favourite furry cosy blanket and with his favourite cuddy toy Lateysha the Lobster!