What to look for when choosing a puppy:
- Do the puppies in the litter appear healthy and vigorous?
- Do other dogs that have contact with the pups appear healthy and friendly?
- Is the mother friendly and trusting or fearful and aggressive towards strangers? Timidity in the mother is a bad sign, it may be inherited by the puppies or learned through example.
- Are the pups being raised in an environment that provides stimulation and exposure to different objects and people?
- Are they being handled regularly? Early handling is of crucial importance in the puppies socialization.
- Have the pups been separated from the mother? If so, when?
- How old is the litter? Before 6 weeks the pups are too young to leave the mother, from 12 weeks they may be too old.
- What food is the puppy getting, has it been vaccinated and dewormed?
- Does the puppy and the litter appear healthy and is the environment hygienic?
Your new puppy will need:
- A place to eat – its own feeding and drinking bowls, placed in a quiet corner away from the family dining area.
- A place to sleep – a big cardboard box will do – lined with washable bedding and placed in a draught – free corner or a dog bed. Hint – the first few nights away from its mother and litter might be slightly traumatic for a puppy – on old – fashioned tick-tock alarm clock works well, some soft blankets and a wrapped hot water bottle could help to make up for the absence of its litter mates.
- A thorough check-up – from your vet during the first week. Ensure it completes the full programme of immunisation shots. Continue with its deworming treatment, groom your puppy regularly – check the coat for fleas and ticks and the ears for redness and other signs of irritation, inspect the teeth to make sure they are developed properly.
- A collar and i.d. tag – make sure the collar is not too loose or too tight (generally two fingers space between collar and neck is a comfortable fit). You may consider having a micro-chip implanted for permanent identification. P.s. if you don’t have an id tag immediately, write your telephone number on the inside of the collar with a permanent marker.
- A strong leash – a shorter one for walking your puppy, a longer, flexible one for training.
- The right food – no sudden change from what the breeder was feeding – to what you would like to feed. A puppy has different nutritional requirements to an adult dog and should therefore be fed puppy food.
- A safe environment – fence of out of bounds areas e.g. the swimming pool.
- A variety of safe toys to play with.
Taking in a rescue dog: Rather than buy a puppy from a breeder, you may decide to give a home to an abandoned dog from a animal shelter. You may successfully acquire a perfect companion, but pleasure can sometimes turn to disappointment when a dog is found to have unforeseen behavioural problems and cannot adapt to family life.
Do’s and don’ts of adopting a dog:
- …Decide if you want a puppy, adolescent, adult or older dog before contacting the centre. Consider your own circumstances – always busy? – don’t choose a dog that needs daily grooming. Getting older? – avoid an athletic type. Got children? – make sure the dog is used to them.
- …take your time, find out all you can about the dog’s background and personality. Take it for a short walk. Watch how it behaves with other dogs and people. Have it checked over by a vet when you get it home. Make sure it has had all its shots.
- …choose a rescued dog because it may be a cheaper option – you must be prepared to give it plenty of time and patience.
- …make an over-hasty decision – spend time with the dog before committing yourself.
- …expect to find the perfect dog the first time you go looking.
- …choose a dog solely on the basis of its appearance – it is more important to see how the dog behaves.
- …smother it unnecessary with love and affection. Allow it time and space to adjust to its new home.
Cross breeds vs. pedigrees.
- Hybrid vigour (stronger gene poole) produces a robust, healthy dog with fewer genetic diseases.
- a cross-breed will give as much loyalty and affection as other breeds.
- it is usually cheaper to buy.
- there is no guarantee of what size or type of dog you are acquiring.
- no guarantee of temperament or behaviour.
Choosing a cat.
What to look for in a kitten:
- Does it have a lively, friendly personality?
- Is its mother (and father if present) friendly, outgoing and trusting with people?
- Is the coat glossy, with no sign of flea dirt?
- Are the eyes clear and bright, with no “third eyelid” visible?
- Is the nose damp but free of discharge?
- Does it have white teeth, sweet clean breath and healthy pink gums?
- Are the ears clean, with no wax or discharge?
- Is the area under the tail clean?
Your kitten’s basic needs:
- a safe environment.
- a calm atmosphere.
- it’s own space.
- continued socialisation.
- the right food.
- a litter box.
- vaccinations and deworming.
Advantages of a cross-breed:
- usually a huge selection to choose from.
- you will not need to contact a breeder.
- they cost very little – are often given away.
- cross-bred cats are robust and live longer.
- they suffer from fewer inherited health problems.
Adopting a homeless cat.
- is the cat healthy? Has it been vaccinated and sterilised?
- what is the approximate age?
- is it a stray or has it been living wild? Why did the first owner’s give it up?
- does it have any behavioural problems (these can take long to overcome)
- is it house trained?
- is it friendly and outgoing, or does it show signs of timidity or aggression?
- did it live indoors -was it allowed out?
- is it used to children and other pets?
- if a long-hair, does it tolerate grooming?