If you are looking for a puppy or a rescue dog you first should ask yourself:
Do you really have time?
Are you prepared to socialise the puppy to an extent which is considered best practice?
Are you ready for a twelve year or more commitment?
If you work fulltime, have three children under the age of 7 and a busy lifestyle you might want to reconsider.
Once you have decided a puppy is right for you. Reassess the option of a rescue dog.
If a rescue is not for you start looking for a breeder.
Breeders of pure bred dogs are registered with Dogs NSW (or the corresponding body in other states). Make sure they breed family dogs and not show dogs. A puppy that is brought up in a kennel environment is not prepared for family living.
If you are looking for a breeder of ‘designer’ or mixed breed the only option to find out is to go and visit the breeder before making any decisions. If you cannot or are not allowed to visit, forget it, its most likely a puppy farm
Ask the breeder what kind of socialisation they do before the puppies are leaving for their new homes. Ideally the puppy should:
• Be born in the house and used to normal noises in a family home.
• Have met children and adults (not the breeder) at least 30 to 40 individuals
• Have been on car rides
• Played with a multitude of toys (food dispensing toys, tunnels, soft toys, balls…………
• Have met other species (horses, chickens, cats)
• Have met other social adult dogs (not only mum)
• Have walked on numerous surfaces (floor boards, tiles, grass, dirt etc)
• Have been exploring their surroundings
• Have had initial house training
• Have had initial training and can at least sit and lie down
Microchipping, vaccination and worming must be done as per veterinary care instructions and local laws.
You must be able to visit and at least meet the mother and get information on the father. You need to meet the puppy at about 5 to 6 weeks and then pick him/her up at 8 weeks.
You should also be required to fill in a questionnaire (check here for a sample questionnaire) for the breeder and sign a contract (check here for a sample contract) outlining obligations for you and your breeder. There must be a return clause in the contract that the breeder will take the dog back at any age.
Under no circumstances buy a puppy from a pet shop or online.