Selecting a puppy

Train to Win

Selecting the perfect companion

When you and your family are deciding to purchase a new dog, there are a few things that you need to consider. You need to decide what you actually want from the new member of the family. Are you wanting a beating dog or a picking up dog? If you are looking for a beating dog you are better looking at the spaniel breed and for a picking up dog a retriever breed. Most common breeds are the English springer or Cocker spaniel for beating or the Labrador for picking up. That said there is no reason either dog can’t swap roles and perform adequately in the field. There are many more breeds but these breeds previously mentioned are the current most popular breeds. There are many things to consider and here a few key factors to help in making your mind up.

What health testing has to be included? What breed? Do we have time? Where will we train it? Who is going to train it? Where will it live? Will it be a dog or a bitch? Can you afford a dog?

A big ongoing cost is dog insurance, remember you have to insure the dog as a working dog because if you don’t your insurance company may not pay out.

Regarding choosing a dog or a bitch, I find either of them are easy to train and although many have other opinions, it is mine, that no matter what sex the dog is, if trained correctly, it will serve you well in any application in the shooting field. The only one thing that may stop you getting a bitch would be that they come into season and this can be an issue if you only have one dog and she comes into season during the shooting season. The dog would also be a little bit stronger than a bitch but this would not be any detriment to anyone’s requirements.

We then need to look at finding the right pup. Looking in the local press would not be the first place I would go. I would look to your local gundog trainer for his advice and he may also possibly know of some pups or up and coming litters. Once you have found a litter you are happy with, you then have to go and look at them. One thing to remember you will for sure fall in love with them straight away and want to leave with one. Don’t fall into the trap of your heart and wait until it is the right time. I personally like to let the breeder keep them for as long as they can. This ensures it has been socialised correctly with its mum and other dogs. I feel taking a pup away to soon can have an impact on its total upbringing. Most breeders however like to see them go at 8 to 10 weeks. By now the breeders will have had enough of all the mess and puppy play.

When you arrive at the property where the pups are held make sure it is a clean environment and everything is kept in good condition. You would not buy a car from a man in a shed so don’t buy a pup from a similar place. It would be wrong of you to buy a pup without seeing the dam. The dam should be in good condition as well as the pups. All the pups should be nice and chunky and be active lots of play fighting and jumping around. Some people would advise you from getting the little pup sat in the corner because it is the quiet one. I don’t agree totally with this statement as the pup in the corner could be the one that has just eaten all the food had a play fight with all its siblings and is taking time out. The best thing to do is spend as much time with the pups as you can and see what they are all doing. You may spot one that you like straight away but just watch them play and then decide. If the breeding is right and all the appropriate testing is in place with sire and dam you will normally be fine with any from the litter. Once you have agreed the pup you are having leave a deposit and keep in touch with the breeder. Agree a date of collection and stick to it.

When collecting the pup be prepared and make sure you have everything you need to cope with the pup and its first journey. This journey could be issue free or not, for the pup it will be quite a scary experience as this has never happened before. There may be lots of mess for you to clear up and if it is a long journey take provisions to clear up. There is nothing worse than having your head out of the car window because you can’t stand the smell. So lots of wet wipes, paper kitchen roll and bags to put the waste in. Being prepared for every eventuality will pay off I promise you.

When you get home ensure you have the correct items in place for your pup. It will require a bed of some kind and a cage. Putting it straight in a kennel with other dogs will not be a good move. Don’t forget that every new thing the pup meets is a new challenge in its life so gently introduce it to your other pets. This also includes children and other people. Give the pup space and time to settle in.

Inoculations should be done at the correct time and advice from your vet to another person’s vet may vary but it is around 8 week when the first inoculation is administered and two weeks on from that a second one. It is a following two week before they should be allowed out to the big wide world. As previously stated vets advice can differ but please ensure that you follow their advice.

Darren Kirk

Kirkbourne Spaniels



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