When looking at the choices out there for finding that perfect pet, keep in mind the pros and cons of all your options. We will break down these choices from a trainer’s point of view, as well as commonly known pros and cons in acquiring your new dog from a pet store, a breeder, or a pet rescue.

Pet stores

Cons of buying a puppy from a pet store

First, a few cons from a trainer’s point of view. Pet store pups tend to be some of the most difficult puppies to housebreak. Think of this: the puppy is purchased from the “breeder” shipped to a store in a crate, then placed in a larger crate or playpen, almost never stepping foot outside on grass or dirt. Some pet stores crate the pups when on display, but not to be played with. But when they are taken from the crates, they are placed in large play area where they will go potty first before engaging in play with persons or other puppies. Once done, back into the crate, where they can stay for hours on end with food and water. Having to use the bathroom where they sleep, eat, drink and play creates the very bad habit that it is OK to soil where you sleep, thus not giving the pups the proper understanding early on of using the potty away from your “living area.”

Another bad habit created when puppies are in the pet store is caused by EVERYONE picking them up to handle them, because who doesn’t want to cuddle a cute puppy? However, the store clerks can’t watch everyone and some people have no regard for pups who may be curled up sleeping or who are timid and hiding. They will reach in, startling the pup and picking it up for their own self desire. This can cause pups to become shy and/or fearful of strangers, especially when children who are not watched mishandle puppies. Then you have the outgoing puppy who jumps excitedly for everyone he/she sees. This puppy no doubt will have major issue jumping on you and guests in your home, as it has been taught early on “you jump, we pick up and cuddle.” With small breeds, this may not be a huge issue, but when dealing with medium to larger breeds, this can be a nuisance behavior that lasts in the dog through adulthood.

Now, some commonly known cons. Most pet store pups are the unwanted or outcast puppies from a breeder who couldn’t get the full price due to non-breed standard traits. Examples would be wrong or undesired colors, overbites and underbites more than allowed, offset eyes, below size standards and many other qualities. The risk of the puppy coming from a “puppy mill” is very high as well. Due to socialization and lack of health protocol, most puppies become sick while in the care of the store, yet the symptoms don’t exhibit until the puppy is away from the store and in your care.  Puppies are sold with pedigree papers that are falsified documents or online registry companies versus established pedigree based companies such as the American Kennel Club. Price gouging is very common as well; a breeder may sell their unwanted puppy to the pet store for $200-400 and the store turns around and sell the pup for $1500-2000.

Pros of buying a puppy from a pet store

Sadly, not much in this column other than offering a wide variety of puppies to choose from in one location. Now, one pro that we hope will catch on is that some countries and states only allow for the sale of mix breed and/or pound puppies in pet stores versus the “pedigree” puppy.

Professional breeders and backyard breeders

First, let’s explain the difference between these two types of breeders. A professional breeder typically breeds dogs as their sole source of income. These breeders are usually involved with breeding clubs and organizations for show and confirmation. Most professional breeders stick with one breed of dog and have multiple males and females, allowing them to have numerous litters a year. Backyard breeders (or hobby breeders) usually breed dogs to have a pup to continue on the legacy of their most beloved pet. Some have a litter once a year or just to give the female a chance to be a mom. There are also those people who do not pay attention or realize that they have a female in heat and then, OOPS, now we have a pregnant female!

Cons of buying a puppy from a breeder

Just because someone says they are a breeder doesn’t mean that they are a good breeder. When choosing a breeder, don’t be scared to ask the hard questions: 

  • What pre-medical testing have you done with your dogs? For example, hip / elbow x-rays, heart testing, eye testing, degenerative myopathy testing, etc. Each breed has a recommend list of testing that can be found on The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website. Take a look before talking to your breeder to help you know what tests a breeder can give. 
  • Have the dogs been temperament tested to ensure the dogs are stable and confident?
  • Can I meet the puppy’s mom and/or dad?
  • Can the breeder provide me with pedigree papers of the puppy’s mom and dad?
  • Have you had previous litters from either parent? If so, can I speak to the owners of those puppies?
  • Do you provide vaccine and health certificates prior to pick-up of the puppy?
  • Is the home or facility kennel/whelping area clean and smells pleasant?
  • Are the prices reasonable based on other pups of the same breed from other breeders?

Pros of buying a puppy from a breeder

Breeders can provide reassurance on the long term health of your pup. A breeder can give you an idea on the temperament of the pup (having raised them) and help you choose which puppy is best suited for your family. They can also give you an idea of what to expect when your pup becomes an adult. Some breeders can possibly provide support and guidance on choose a trainer, a veterinarian, the right food and other important tidbits of raising your pup.

As a trainer, when I have a client call me and tell me about a problem puppy that is outside of the typical “breed” standard of puppy traits, the first question I will ask is, “Have you contacted your breeder to see if other puppies from the litter are having a similar issue or have any of your pups had this issue before?” A good breeder will want to hear feedback if something is off or different about one of their pups.

Another benefit of buying from a breeder is that some breeders start housebreaking/crate training your pups at 5-6 weeks of age to assist with a good transition into a new home. Some breeders will start teaching proper social skills with other pets and children. Some will introduce the pups to objects to help build confidence when encountering new things.

Pet rescues

Rescues come in many forms, from your well-known ASPCA and county shelters to small organizations or persons looking to make a difference in a dog’s life. There are breed-specific rescue groups, size-specific rescue groups and shelters who take in every type of dog.

Cons of adopting a puppy from a rescue organization

Because shelters are filled with unwanted pets, it’s hard to know the history of these dogs. The majority of shelter dogs are mixed breeds with an unknown medical history.

From a trainer’s point of view, these dogs can come with bad behavioral issues, from simple things like excessive barking, jumping, housebreaking problems and bad chewing habits to more concerning issues like anxiety, animal aggression, people aggression, child aggression, fearfulness and / or fear aggression. Some of these issues can be resolved by placing the dog in a more stable environment and showing them a more “normal” life. Training can also be very beneficial for the dog, as well the new owner, because it helps them build a healthy relationship, bond, and communication with each other.

Not all rescue pups or dogs have issues and need professional help. We just encourage everyone to keep an open mind that the possibility is higher.

Pros of adopting a puppy from a rescue organization

You are saving a dog’s life when you open your home and heart to rescuing a puppy or dog. You can adopt a dog who is housebroken, obedient, confident and stable. This dog can come into your home and be the perfect pet you have always wished for. A large part of the community are starting to see if rescue pups can be used for police work, search and rescue, service dog, therapy dogs, emotional support animals, actors for movies, theme parks, agility competition and many more things.

Still having trouble finding the right dog for you?

If you live in the state of Florida and need help finding the right puppy for you, we can help. At The 1 Dog Trainer Academy, our professionally trained dogs for sale include location services, which can help you find the perfect pup to add to your family. Our location services involve a comprehensive evaluation process that includes temperament testing and a health check, so you can have the peace of mind that comes from a professional dog trainer helping you choose your new puppy. Visit our “Contact Us” page to get in touch with us about finding and training your next pup!