If you're thinking of getting a puppy, it's important to do your homework first.

Read our 10-step guide:

1. Carry out your research first. Different dogs have different needs and temperaments depending on, for example, their age, breed, health status, gender, and past experiences. A vet will also be able to give you information and advice on this.

 2. Take into account the average lifespan of the dog you would like to own and the estimated costs of lifetime care (both financially and in terms of your own time) before buying. Consider asking a pet insurance company how much it will cost to insure the type of dog you are considering taking on.

3. Make sure that the dog you choose is suitable for you, your home and your lifestyle. A vet will also be able to give you information and advice on the health problems that certain breeds are prone to; you can also get advice from the organisations associated with this document.

4. Bear in mind your responsibilities under the Control of Dogs Ordinance 1992, which states that pet owners MUST have a license and all dogs over six months of age must have an identity tag on their collar. It also states that you may be liable for prosecution if you do not clear up after your dog when it has fouled in a public place.

5. For pedigree puppies, ensure that any recognised registration papers and the parents’ hereditary disease screening certificates, where appropriate, are in order and available at the time you buy the puppy. Find out more about getting a pedigree dog.

6. Avoid buying animals with exaggerated physical features that are likely to affect their quality of life, and don’t base your decision on appearance alone. You should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing a dog.

7. Always see your puppy with its real mother in the environment where it was raised, and ask to see its brothers and sisters, if they are still there. Make sure that you know who the father is and that you get an opportunity to contact its owner. Ensure that the parent(s) and the puppies are happy and healthy and that the environment is suitable to meet all the puppy’s welfare needs.

8. Ask to see the puppy’s health records and ensure that these are available by the time you buy the puppy (this includes any records of vaccination, worming and flea treatment as well as other veterinary treatment). Also check that the puppy’s parents have taken appropriate health screening tests relevant to the breed and ask if the puppy or its parents have received any veterinary attention relating to an inherited problem. These should be available for you, or your vet, to take a look at.

9. Make sure your puppy stays with its mother until a suitable age. This may vary, but normally would be until 8 weeks of age.

10. It is important to ensure that your puppy is well socialised and has had appropriate good experiences. Ideally, your puppy should also have had good experiences with people, some other types of animals and in the places and situations it is likely to encounter as an adult, including a normal home environment. But be aware that not all socialisation with other puppies is positive. Try not to put your puppy in situations where it can become afraid.

This guidance was put together in association with other animal welfare groups, Defra and the British Veterinary Association to help prospective owners choose the right puppy for them.

The GSPCA offers positive reinforcement behaviour and training classes for puppies. Please contact the Shelter on 257261 or email [email protected] for more information.

Click the button below for Training Application Form