Getting a new pet can be a very exciting experience. But it's important to know what to look for before buying, especially if this is your first pet. There are many different places to get your new pet, including animal shelters and breeders. With all of the options, it's often confusing and buyers may pick the first, cute animal that they see. Here's some expert tips to help new pet owners find a happy and healthy furball to join the family!
Finding the Perfect Furry Friend
Before heading out to a breeder, it's important to know what type of dog or cat a buyer is looking for. The first time pet owner may not know exactly what type of dog or cat they want or what type will fit into their household. It's best to do some fairly extensive research before making this big decsion.
To find the right breed, pet owners should think about exactly what they are looking for in a dog. Do they want a dog for protection, for their kids to play with, to do competitive sports with, to work on their land or just as a house companion? There are numerous online sites such as Animalplanet.com, Eukanuba.com and Iams.com that provide breed selectors to help pet owners find their perfect match.
Once a buyer's list is narrowed down a bit more, it's time to delve a little deeper. Buyers should research five to 10 of the top matches that they found, and find out as much as they can about each breed. They should read books, talk to other owners of that breed of dog or cat, and ask questions to a breeder.
Mary Ann Martin of San Diego Cat Fancier says, "New cat owners should choose a breed of cat they think they may want and do a little checking on that breed ahead of time such as activity level, care required for a long haired cat vs. a short haired cat and so on. I would suggest going to a cat show and watching your chosen breeds. That will also indicate some characteristics that a potential owner may not be aware of."
Buyers should never purchase the first animal they see. This process requires time and sufficient research to avoid buyer's remorse!
Finding the Right Breeder
Once you've decided on a particular breed, it's time to find a reputable breeder. Research breeders who breed the particular kind of dog or cat that you're looking for. Come up with a list of top breeders that have been investigated and then narrow down the list. Continue narrowing down the list (through constant communication with the breeder and visiting the breeder's property) until you are comfortable selecting one.
What to Look For in a Breeder
There are a number of key things that a person needs to look for when selecting a breeder.
Breeders should be willing to communicate with buyers. Buyers should be able to ask any questions they have, particularly regarding the animal's parents, pedigree, temperament and how long the breeders have known the animal's parents. Breeders should be honest about the strengths and weaknesses of their breeding program and should be willing to discuss this with buyers.
Meet the animal's parents and evaluating their health and temperament for yourself, as this is a good indicator of the puppy's personality and growth into adulthood. Breeders should be able to provide paperwork, photos and contact information for both parents, particularly the stud, or father, of the animal.
"Buyers should look for cats with good coats, clear eyes, cats that are clean, cats that seem happy, content and friendly, and someone who is willing to discuss their cat's pluses and minuses," says Martin.
Breeders should only breed one or two breeds, and should never breed a female more than every few years. A responsible breeder will have a breeding plan and will not have surplus animals, breeding only when there is expressed interest. Breeders should also refrain from breeding dogs that are less than 18 months old or who haven't passed all health clearances.
Good breeders will usually be members of both national and local breed clubs and be in good standing with those clubs.
Breeders should want to help buyers through the selection process and throughout the life of the animal. They should be knowledgeable enough about the breed and any breed-specific health issues that may arise, and discuss these issues with the buyers. They should have a return policy such as a guarantee of health, and accept taking back the animal if a problem arises. In this instance, the breeder is more likely to have the best interest of the animal in mind.
What to Watch Out For
When going to view the dog or the parents of the dog, it is imperative to view their living quarters. Puppies should be kept in a clean and sanitary place. If you aren't allowed to see the dog's quarters, see dogs playing in their own mess or appear in any way less than desirable looking, do not buy from this breeder.
Before purchasing a puppy or kitty, be sure that the animal has seen a veterinarian. Ask the seller to provide vaccination records on the puppy or kitty, and then follow up with the vet to ensure that the animal has actually been properly vaccinated.
Unvaccinated puppies and kittens may have already contracted deadly diseases that won't become evident for day or weeks to come. A seller who is unwilling or unable to provide vaccination records or send the puppy to see a vet is a sure sign that something is amiss.
Buyers are sure to have questions throughout the process of purchasing a dog from a breeder. Breeders should be willing and happy to answer any questions and communicate with the buyer the whole way through. If a breeder is unwilling to talk or answer any questions, it's a red flag! Don't purchase from this breeder.
Bringing Puppy or Kitty Home
Once you've found the perfect dog or cat and selected a breeder to use, it's time to take your new bundle of joy home. New pet owners may need a few extra tips for what to do once they've gotten their new pet home.
Make sure that your home is ready for an animal to come into it! Make sure you have litter boxes, food, food dishes, beds, brushes, toys and other necessities so that the animal is comfortable and well taken care of. With a puppy, be prepared to clean up messes that may happen during the housebreaking training stage.
"New cat owners need to be understanding that a kitten should not come home at 8 weeks, understanding that a good breeder will allow the kitten to mature before it leaves its mom because that's important for its development," says Martin. "It will still bond with its new family at 16 weeks or 20 weeks, or whatever age it finally goes home."
DeeAnn Noland, owner of Teddy Bear Love, a Bernese Mountain dog breeder, says new dog owners should, "Spend lots of time with their new puppy, bonding, socializing and training. Read books about the breed and training so that you can enjoy your dog more. Take the advice of their breeder. Find different venues to enjoy their new dog such as events like agility, training, and clubs."
If you wanted an animal to do competitive sports with, now is the time to start! Look online for clubs or events taking place in your neighborhood that involve animals.
If you wanted a particularly well-trained (or trained at all!) animal, then start looking for local trainers. It's possible to find a trainer who may specialize in the type of dog that you have. Again, look around and don't settle on the first trainer you find. Look for reviews online or contact their references.
No matter the reason that you got your new pet, the health and safety of the animal is imperative. Always ensure that your animal gets routine vaccinations and check-ups. Register your new animal and get their tags attached to their collar. In case the puppy gets lost, it will be identifiable and can be returned safely home to its owners.
Micro-chipping your new pet is also an option. A small microchip with the puppy's information and owner's information is inserted under the skin just behind the dog's neck. If a dog gets lost, most shelters can scan the dog for their microchip to find and locate the owner.
Discover a few of these San Diego animal breeders to begin looking for your new pet.
Designer Spots Cattery in San Diego breeds Bengal and Savannah cats. Designer Spots Cattery guarantees that all cats are TICA
registered and have a health and vaccine clearance. Its website is littered with photos of the cute kittens they offer, as well as photos and information about the parents to make your research a little easier. For more information, visit Designerspotscattery.com.
Yin Yang Bengals, located in North County, breed beautiful Bengal cats. "Meow" is its mantra, and they aim to provide healthy kitties to loving homes. It has a very responsible breeding philosophy and doesn't over-breed its cats. The team treats the cats and kittens as if they were family members and socialize the kittens as soon as they are able to walk. For more information, visit Yinyangbengals.com.
Celyn's Cockers is a great place to find your new Cocker Spaniel puppy. Celyn is a member of the Cocker Spaniel Club of San Diego, President of the Cocker Spaniel Club of Southern California and member of the Temecula Valley All Breed Club. There are lots of great photos of the puppies and also information about upcoming events on its website. For more information, visit Celynscockers.com.
Wolke Danes in Fallbrook breed beautiful Great Dane puppies. The breeder breeds only healthy and good-moving Great Danes with wonderful temperaments. The owner is a member of The Great Dane Club of America, The Great Dane Club of San Diego and Tri-Valley Working Dog Club of Pinon Hills, and follows the code of ethics set forth by these clubs. For more information, visit Wolkedanes.com.
Discover more San Diego animal breeders and check out our Shopping blog for more tips and trends.