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Should I buy an older puppy?

We understand that 'old stock' in a supermarket might not be quite as good as the fresh stuff. We pay less and we expect less. Should we think the same way with older puppies?


There is a glut of puppies on the market. Covid created a massive demand and people made a lot of money from selling dogs. Now things are different. Many people who bred litters are being left with older puppies they simply can't sell.

Unfortunately many people who bred these litters didn't actually know a lot about rearing puppies, especially rearing several puppies for many months.

The knowledge and skill of the breeder and what they have done to help develop confident, sociable dogs becomes HUGE with older puppies.

Basically the entire socialisation period has been spent with the breeder.

Do you want to buy a puppy that already has behaviour issues?

Get curious.

What have they taught the puppies?

What positive experiences have they provided?

Consider the life your puppy will have with you.

How many of the features of that life have these puppies had positive experiences with so far?

  • Time spent apart from litter mates/ mother

  • Urban rearing or country? Living in town is a whole lot different from living in the country. The country pup should have spent some time in town. The town pup should have been to the country.

  • Car rides

  • Other pets e.g cats, chooks

  • Crate training

  • Gentle handling - ears, mouths, body, feet.

  • Play with toys with a person

  • Grooming

  • Nail clipping

  • Visiting a range of different places. Before vaccinations are complete this can be done in several ways. The pup can spend time in the car looking, listening, scenting; they can be carried in arms or pushed in a trolley (Bunnings etc). Pups can visit low risk places like the homes of friends with vaccinated dogs, farms etc.

  • Seeing/ meeting a range of different people including children who handle the puppy with care. Life with your family might be too loud and busy for a pup bred and raised in a quiet, single person home. If the pups were raised in a family environment, are you happy with the way the family interacts with them? Does the pup look relaxed and confident or stressed and anxious?

  • Seeing/ meeting a variety of well socialised dogs

  • Toilet training

  • Beginning of basic training

* Does the puppy follow?

* Come when called - "Puppy, puppy, puppy"?

* Has there been any work done on leash walking or harness wearing?

  • Is feeding time calm and relaxed or are the puppies fighting over food?

If you are informed and let your head rule your heart, you can make a thoughtful decision about whether to buy that older puppy or not.

If the puppy clearly has issues, be very, very careful about asking yourself the question: if I don't buy him, what will happen to him?

Instead ask: if I do buy him, am I (and my family) really willing to change my life (our lives) to put in the work and face the complexities and heartache that owning him may bring me/ us?

Pre empt the emotion. Feel the possible pain beforehand and decide if you want it for real. Yes, there absolutely will be positives too. Do you think they will outweigh the difficulties?

Then if you do buy the puppy, you have already made the commitment and prepared yourself for the worst case scenario !

Believe me, even a sociable, healthy, young puppy is going to tip your life upside down. Taking on an extremely timid, anxious or otherwise behaviourally challenged puppy should be an informed choice, not an accident.

Love will not be enough to 'fix' your puppy's problems. You will need to learn, try things, succeed and fail, learn more, try different things, succeed and fail again. There will be progress to celebrate, but even with massive improvement, you may never have an outgoing, confident dog you can take anywhere. Not the pup's fault. Not your fault. Possibly the breeder's fault (although sometimes, s*** does just happen). However, the breeder chose the genetics of the parents and they reared the pups through the critical developmental stages.

Inform yourself.

Then choose your pup.

Whatever you decide, good luck!!


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