Get to Know the Breed Standard
2. Learn from the Best
As you begin searching for the right puppy, find a breed expert to help guide you. A breeder who breeds and develops champion dogs is an ideal mentor to help you discover the traits that are important in your puppy. Whether you want a pet that will be a lifelong companion or a show puppy suited for conformation shows, the dog’s characteristics should match your goals and expectations.
3. Temperament Is So Important
An important thing to keep in mind when choosing your puppy is to look for one with an engaging, friendly temperament. If your breeder prefers to match puppies to owners, be sure to request an outgoing puppy. A dog’s behavioural makeup is 35 percent genetic and 65 percent due to socialization, nutrition, health care, training, and management.1 It is advisable to search for a puppy that was raised in an environment similar to yours, meaning that if you live in a big city with children, it is preferable to get a puppy raised in a city environment surrounded by children.
4. Bringing Puppy Home
Before bringing your new small-breed puppy home around 8 to 12 weeks of age, your breeder will provide a list of supplies to get ahead of time. You will need a dog bed, puppy food, appropriate training treats, bowls for food and water, toys, and grooming supplies. A puppy pack with information about the next visit to the veterinary clinic, microchipping, vaccination and parasite control schedule, breed information, growth and key socialization stages, as well as neutering considerations will help you start off on track.
5. Puppy Socialization Is Lifelong
Puppy socialization helps set the stage for a dog’s entire life. Once a puppy has received the core vaccines, it is safe to introduce your puppy to new environments, unfamiliar people and other dogs. These experiences help to boost your dog’s confidence and ability to handle new situations. .
6. Basic Training Reinforces Good Behaviour
Puppies are eager to learn. You can start by teaching your dog to walk on a lead. A puppy obedience class will help you learn to teach your dog basic commands such as sit, stay and come. There is a small window of opportunity when puppies are 5 to 16 weeks old that is key to socialization and can affect positive development. A dog that grows up learning how to respond to your requests makes a better companion for both of you.
7. The Important Role of Nutrition
Rapidly growing small-breed puppies should be fed a complete and balanced puppy food that, at minimum, meets their nutrient requirements. They need appropriate calcium and phosphorous ratios to contribute to the growth of healthy bones and higher protein and fat requirements to build muscle. Their food should contain a source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is important for puppies’ brain and vision development. Small-breed dogs also have an increased metabolism requirement relative to their body weight. Thus, it is important they are fed an energy-dense food that provides lots of calories in a small volume so as not to overload their smaller GI tract. Fresh water should be available at all times.
8. Setting Realistic Goals
As you start out with your new small-breed puppy, if you are planning to show your dog, it is important to define goals that are commensurate with your affordable time and resources. You should consult others whom you trust to help determine your dog’s potential. They can help you gauge whether your dog has the qualities to be a show dog or perhaps to participate in performance sports. They also can guide you as you begin the process.
9. Keeping an Eye on Health
Staying on top of vaccinations, parasite control, dental care, and annual veterinary check-ups are just part of proper preventive health care for your new dog. Every breed has specific health concerns that you should know about. Always cross-reference the health conditions prone to particular breeds with the national kennel club to learn whether there are appropriate screening tests available. When assessing breeders to find your puppy, don’t be afraid to ask whether they health test their breeding dogs to help reduce the risk of diseases that are common in the breed. It is particularly important that your breeder has screened the dam and sire of your puppy for health conditions that are appropriate for the breed.
10. Bonding with Your Puppy for Life
Nothing compares with the friendly, wagging welcome your dog gives you every time you return home. Sharing special moments from the start with your new puppy will lead to a lifelong, loving relationship. Take time to frequently pet and praise your puppy and to regularly play and enjoy walks together. The bond you forge now will deepen as you and your new best friend enjoy life together. 1 Scott JP, Fuller JL. Genetics and the Social Behaviour of the Dog. University of Chicago Press. 1998 (Originally published in 1985.)