Mistakes As First-Time Dog Owners

Grit & Glamour Club_Mistakes as First-Time Dog Owners

We made plenty of mistakes as first-time dog owners. The breed my family bought was completely different from what we thought. While we thought we were buying a Cavapoo (a mix of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle), we ended up purchasing a Yorkshire Terrier cross instead.

I grew up with animals. For years I wanted a dog to join our family but the timing never seemed right. We also have a courtyard garden so we were always in two minds on whether the setting would be suitable. And with two young children, the house was already hectic.

When a family member introduced us to their two new puppies and everyone fell in love with them, we decided to bite the bullet as well. They could all grow up together. And, with the Kent countryside and lots of outside space within yards of our home, the house doubts soon faded away.

We made quite a few mistakes as first-time dog owners though, so I wanted to share our journey and what we have learnt in the process.

Zero research

Looking back at what we did next, we were pretty naive. I’d say we spent about 10 years discussing adding a dog to our gang but we literally spent zero time on the research itself. I find it absolutely unbelievable to think about now. While searching, we did everything we weren’t supposed to do and typed in ‘Cavapoo puppies for sale’ locally in Google. Total red flag. 

It was an ad on Gumtree that came up about five miles away. Everything in the advert sounded good. The colouring, sex, family history, vaccinations and vet checks were reportedly in order. An appointment was made for the following day. The next day we all piled into the car, excited. We decided that my partner would be the only one to go in. We looked up all the questions you should ask, so felt prepared. Fifteen minutes later he emerged with our new puppy – CJ. 

Meeting the puppy

CJ was gorgeous, tiny, black, had no real characteristics of any breed at this point. The first words my partner said to me when he came out was ‘something didn’t seem right in there’ and he was right. The supposed mother was present but detached from the puppies.  But, he wasn’t sure what to expect from this canine relationship so we convinced ourselves it must have been.

In the staged story, the Poodle belonged to a cousin and the mother accidentally became pregnant. The sellers weren’t even dressed for the appointment and no questions were asked. 

The discovery

It took us a good few months to recognise CJ was a different breed. She was a terrier but with floppy ears and bigger than Yorkies we had seen out and about. The more she grew, the more it became obvious. She had no traits from either breed. At the time I had no clue you could DNA your dog but turns out you can. So, we ordered, did the test and a few weeks later the conclusive results were back from the lab – 75% Yorkshire Terrier and 25% underdetermined. I couldn’t even fathom that falsely selling a breed of dog was even a thing. In this couple’s case, they were more motivated by making money than caring for the animal. To this day it makes me feel sick to my stomach that we have unknowingly contributed to that and been any part of it. 

Of course, it didn’t matter to us, it wasn’t CJ’s fault, she is our dog, part of our family, and we love her no matter what she is (she’ll be two next month). The harsh lesson here for us was that we were fuelling a business we didn’t want to have anything to do with. These people were neither breeders nor concerned about animal welfare. Despite contacting the RSPVA, the couple had already moved on. 

Having made mistakes as first-time dog owners, I have since educated myself on the steps you should take when bringing your new best friend into your home. I hope this helps others who don’t have the knowledge, but would love to add to their family.

  • Puppy dealers can be spotted in the advert. Google the contact number and see if any other ads have the same contact number. Also do the same with the advert. You may find it word for word elsewhere. You can also use Google to search for the puppy image by right clicking
  • Dealers often claim their puppies are registered with the Kennel Club. Don’t take their word for it, check with the Kennel Club first
  • If there’s a ‘puppy passport’, it’s probably been imported. Be vigilant
  • If you deal with an honest breeder, they’ll be happy to talk to you. They should also schedule an appointment to meet the mother and puppies in the home, with more than one appointment to ensure suitability on both sides
  • Reliable breeders should answer all your questions and ask you as many in return so they can be confident the puppy is entering a good home
  • Provide official certificates for the puppy vaccinations. Proof of vet checks and any additional pedigree paperwork. We had zero paperwork. CJ wasn’t even microchipped, which we since have learnt is a legal requirement
  • Be happy to show you their Local Authority license. The breeder should also be happy to use the Puppy Contract between the two of you
  • An honest breeder will not rush you into a cash payment or offer to bring the puppy to you, or suggest to meet somewhere neutral. You should see the litter and mother only in their home
  • A mother should be with her litter so if she isn’t there because of some random excuse about a vet’s appointment or walk, this is a huge red flag. For us we thought the mother was there, the expected breed was, but there was still the sense that something was off and it was (she wasn’t the mother at all)
  • Trust your gut feeling, if something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. We rescued the dog and felt it was the right thing to do in that split second, but you can walk away and report the so-called breeder in case there is illegal smuggling or puppy farming going on
  • As well the breeder research, Pedigree offer a great tool to help determine the right dog for your lifestyle 
  • Word of mouth helps. Whenever we connect with other dog owners on our daily walk, we often discuss good recommendations or upcoming litters. Most owners are happy to talk about their story so if you’re passing and a pending new addition to your family is on your mind, just ask them

Grit & Glamour Club is where you’ll find my latest posts. Think chatting to a good friend and expect to read articles on motherhood, self-care and work-life, home-life balance.

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