While the decision of adopting a dog and pledging responsibility of his wellbeing for the rest of his life is quite a testing matter; what can be equally challenging is the entire process of fi guring out just where to adopt one from. During the course of adopting a puppy from a breeder, one must not, in any way, encourage or give support to a cruel, illegal and inhuman breeding system which treats dogs as nothing more than mere money making products and produce them by the dozens for maximum profi t. Not only does the physical health of dogs suffer severely in these ‘puppy mills’, but also their psychological health in addition gets bruised and dented.
So, if you’ve decided its time to bring home a pooch and welcome a new member into your family, here are 10 guidelines to help you head toward the right place for adoption:
Know a puppy-mill when you see one
Puppy-mills are places where female dogs are bred repeatedly without any concern for their pups’ health and overall wellbeing. The dogs and pups in these areas look neglected and unhealthy and will commonly carry a lazy, depressed and tired physical demeanor.
Count on recommendations
Do your homework beforehand, when you take recommendations of a reliable veterinarian, a pet shop of repute or a kennel club.
Always ask to see the mother
An ethical and caring breeder will happily and readily have you meet the mother of the puppies. According to veterinary experts, a mother dog should be at least 18 – 20 months old before she is made to deliver her fi rst litter. It is therefore important to ask the breeder the age of the mother before deciding to take one of her cute little pups. If the mother is old enough to be bred, check to see if she looks healthy, happy and active. If you doubt whether the dog shown to you is in fact the mother and not some random healthy dog that is made to pose as the mother, observing the interaction between the pups and the dog should help you out.
Take a tour of the breeding facility
At visiting a dog kennel or individual breeder, always ask to see the breeding area and facility and check for hygienic surroundings, proper housing, adequate food and clean water as well as suffi cient free space for the dogs and pups to play and move about. Unless you are satisfi ed with the conditions in which the dogs and pups are kept and bred, do not adopt from that breeder.
Check for signs of physical health
At your own level, you can check that the dogs and pups have clear skin, a tidy coat and clear eyes and ears. Additionally, make sure that they are out-going and playful, since a dejected, lazy, unhappy and worn-out conduct can be signs of various forms of physical illnesses. Reputed and caring breeders in fact will usually have the pups duly vaccinated and de-wormed before their sale and will readily present their medical records before you. A good breeder if asked will also tell you of the veterinarian doctor looking into these pups’ medical check-ups and will readily give you his or her contact information for further cross-examination.
Check for signs of mental health
Try to gauge the behavioral traits and temperament of the dogs as well as the pups housed in a breeding centre. While some of them might be lively and energetic, others might be reserved or shy. But in general, all of them will show clear signs of a distinct personality trait which will help you to judge their mental soundness and emotional stability. If in case the dogs show signs of being extra aggressive or abnormally timid, there is reason for you to doubt the quality of care being given to them. This, since in the absence of basic social, emotional and health needs being fulfi lled, dogs tend to demonstrate abnormal behavioural traits and a disturbed psyche.
Ask the breeder a lot of questions
A good breeder will be able to aptly answer all your questions regarding the breed, its healthcare needs as well as its social and emotional needs. Reactions and responses to such questions would help you distinguish between a cold hearted businessman and a genuine dog lover. A good breeder would also, in addition, be willing to openly discuss with you details of the breeding facility run by him or her. Amongst the questions you must ask breeders, the more important ones include: How many different breeds of dogs do they breed? How many litters of each breed do they have each year? And at what age do they breed their dogs?
Trust a questioning and probing breeder
If you come across a breeder who is hesitant in giving away a pup to you for adoption and shows signs of doubting your abilities as a responsible pet owner; you can be confident about being at the right place. A genuine breeder will always be sure about the parenting skills of a prospective owner and will throw at you question after question about your general lifestyle, previously owned pets, members in the family, your knowledge of pet care as well as your opinions on pet adoption. Such breeders would hang on to the litter for as long as they cannot fi nd a loving and caring home for the puppies. So, don’t be surprised even if the breeder tries to talk you out of taking one of the pups.
Consider the age of the pup before adopting one
Ideally, a pup should not be adopted before he is 7 to 8 weeks old. There are in fact some states in the world where it is illegal to sell pups before they are at least 8 weeks old. It is during this time that the pup goes through one of his most important stages of socialization, wherein he learns a lot about behaviour and communication from his parents and siblings. A good breeder therefore will never separate a pup from his family before he is at least 7 weeks old.
Observe the breeder’s relationship with his dogs
The way a breeder interacts with his dogs and similarly, the manner in which the dogs respond to their owner, can speak volumes about the genuineness of the breeder. If a breeder is in fact emotionally attached to the animals and concerned about their well being, it will come across well through his or her interaction with the mothers and the pups while he or she introduces them to you. In the same way, dogs will openly show their affection and fondness when approached by the breeder by ways of wagging their tails, playing or licking the breeder’s hands. All these signs only point out to a healthy relationship between the breeder and his dogs, wherein all the basic needs of the dogs are being taken good care of by the breeder.
If however on the other hand, the dogs look unusually scared and try to avoid contact or interaction with humans, there is all the reason for you to be suspicious about the breeder’s actions towards the dogs as well as the care taking facilities of the breeding centre. On the whole, a responsible and genuine dog breeder will take upon himself: (a) the provision of quality health care to the dogs and their pups, (b) the moral obligation of not breeding dogs too often, and (c) the search of a loving home for all of their pups. And it is these values and qualities that you must go out looking for in a breeder. And when during your course of adoption you do come across those careless, insensitive and money-minded breeders who are more concerned about their profi t than the well being of their dogs, as a responsible animal welfare supporter, make sure to report such unhealthy and sloppy breeding centers to the local SPCA (Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals) or to a reliable animal welfare NGO.