“I’ll Take A Large Pie, Two Orders of Fries, and a Dog”
It’s convenient. It’s crazy. Dog lovers order puppies like pizza delivery. Over the Internet. Decisions are made on photos alone. Hearts are throbbing, fingers clicking, breeders crating, dogs are shipped. (You can sing that to the tune of Beethoven’s 9th and imagine puppies all over the country being sped along to excited, naive, owners eagerly waiting at airports.)
There are variations on the theme. Some people DO research the breeder extensively while others just click and ship. Either way,the big risk lies in the fact that the purchaser has never met: 1) the puppy, 2) the parents, or 3) the breeder/rescue group. I have seen some absolutely wonderful dogs that arrived in people’s hands sight unseen. I have also seen some serious mis-matches. Bottom line: you’re rolling the dice when you do it this way. Do you want luck to be such a big factor?
The Myths: All puppies are basically the same. Getting an older puppy is easier.
The Real Deal: Different puppies have different personalities. The behavior of your puppy will depend on her genetics (parents) and her early socialization history (what did your breeder expose the puppy to). Because early socialization is SO important to who your pup will become, if you get a puppy that is older than 12 weeks, much of that puppy’s personality and behavior is SET in a way that you cannot change no matter how hard you try.
Key Points When Puppy Shopping:
1. I strongly encourage you to get a dog from a place where you can see the pup FIRST and if possible, the parents. If you do excellent research, you can get a wonderful dog shipped from a good breeder or rescue group. But, if I were seeking a pup via phone and internet research, I would hold the breeder to very high standards. And guess what, a good breeder should hold you to high standards, too. There are several good books on this subject, including the “for Dummies” series which you can easily find. (By the way, when I say breeder you can substitute the term rescue group there. I know a lot of you are looking to adopt a rescue, and that is wonderful, too. All the dogs out there need good homes, whether it’s a pup from a breeder or an adult from a rescue.)
2. Perform a behavior evaluation (or temperament test) on your puppy. This is especially important if your pup is going to be older than 11 weeks on arrival. Here are a couple of behavior evaluations you can print online and take with you to meet the pup: 1. Ganley’s Puppy Evaluation Criteria, 2. The Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test. Puppy behavior tests are not perfect, but they can tell you a WHOLE lot more than doing nothing! If you are not sure how to do the evaluation properly, then hire an experienced dog trainer to come with you. Believe me, it’s worth it. If you’re not sure how to interpret the results of what you find, then discuss them with at least one experienced trainer. Or ask us.
Still not convinced that the quick buy is a big risk? Look at some well-meaning puppy owners’ stories. These folks were surprised at what they ended up with from very reputable breeders…