Know What to Expect from a Responsible Pet Store
Shopping at your local pet store seems like the quickest, most convenient way to purchase a puppy. Although that may be true, it’s crucial to do your research ahead of time to understand what to expect from a responsible pet store, and easily be able to identify those who are not caring for their dogs properly.
Responsible retailers will want to know about you
Don’t be offended by the long list of questions – they are making sure you are well suited to care for a dog, and that their puppies are going to a loving home. Some retailers may even ask you to fill out a questionnaire to ensure you’re a good match for their dogs or request a list of references that can vouch for your puppy-parenting capabilities. Feel free to ask for a list of their references too, such as other families who have purchased their puppies.
Your pet store should be knowledgeable about the dog’s breed
You should expect that the pet store staff has a strong understanding of the breed’s common personality and physical traits and knows what health concerns often affect the breed. They should be able to provide you with guidance on training and socializing your puppy and explain how they have done so up until this point.
Pet store staff should be knowledgeable and transparent about their operations
If you are working with a staff member to find your future furry friend, they should be able to answer basic questions about where the dogs came from, what the store’s standards are, and what certifications and licenses they are required to have. If they are unable to answer those questions, it’s unlikely that they are properly trained, and it’s in your best interest to look elsewhere for a dog.
While visiting a pet store, expect a clean, spacious, and well-maintained space where the puppies spend their time
A responsible pet store will genuinely care for their puppies by properly grooming, feeding, and socializing them. They will keep the puppies in a clean space that they feel comfortable in. Be cautious if there is a strong odor near the puppies, if it is visibly dirty, or if the puppies look cramped, malnourished, or unlively.
Before you take your furry friend home, a responsible pet store should provide a contract agreement. Pet store contracts will often outline certain conditions of care or indicate that if at any point in time you can no longer care for the dog, he will be returned to the pet store.
Questions To Ask A Pet Store Retailer Before Buying A Dog
1. Where Did These Puppies Come From? Is That A Licensed USDA Breeder?
Unfortunately, because pet stores serve as the middleman between you and the breeder, you likely won’t be seeing where the puppy came from or the conditions he was raised in. It’s important to ask this question to ensure that the breeders the pet store is buying from are responsible and certified by the USDA. If the pet store cannot provide you with the puppy’s breeder, it’s best to walk away.
2. How Have The Puppies Been Socialized?
It is crucial for a puppy’s development that he is introduced to other dogs, animals, objects, and humans in the first 5-16 weeks of age. This period will permanently shape your puppy’s future personality and how he will react to different environments as an adult. Be sure the breeder who raised your dog has taken the proper steps to start socializing your dog, and the pet store can provide you with feedback on how your puppy has reacted to different situations thus far.
3. Is The Puppy Up-To-Date On Vaccinations And Has He Been Dewormed?
You should be sure that your potential puppy has visited a veterinarian to receive his shots and be dewormed before taking him home. Pet stores should have proper records on veterinary testing and treatments and should be able to provide you with the vet’s contact information as well as the puppy’s health records. Understand what shots your puppy has received and when he will be due for his next vaccine.
4. What Health Guarantees And Reclaiming Policies Do You Provide In Your Contract?
If your puppy becomes severely ill, what will the pet store do? Know which inherited diseases afflict your puppy’s particular breed and be sure the pet store has tested your puppy and confirmed he is disease-free. What if you can no longer care for your puppy? Understand your pet store’s reclaiming policy before bringing your dog home.
5. Do You Have Any References?
A responsible, trustworthy pet store will have a list of previous customers and veterinarians that can speak to their reliability. Call the previous customers and be sure they had a positive experience with the pet store, and that their puppy was well cared for while there.
6. Can We Contact You After Taking The Puppy Home?
The pet store staff should be able and willing to offer you guidance as you are raising your new puppy. Be sure that they are available to contact with questions or concerns about your dog or the breed in general.
7. What Do You Need To Know About Me?
You should be prepared to answer questions the staff has about your lifestyle and concerned if they don’t ask any questions about you at all. Reputable retailers will want to ensure the dog suits you, and that you are prepared to raise and care for one of their puppies.
8. What Happens To The Puppies You Don't Sell?
Responsible pet stores will have policies and procedures in place on how to properly find a home for puppies that don’t sell in their stores. How a pet store handles this question will help determine if they are the right source to purchase your dog from.
What to Look for When Visiting a Pet Store
Knowing what to observe while at your local pet store will help you determine if they are responsible or not. Visiting the pet store to find your potential new puppy should be an exciting and positive experience, and if you feel at any point it is not, it’s best to look for a puppy elsewhere.
Observe the dogs’ living conditions
The staff should describe to you where the dogs are kept, where they sleep and play, and where they were born. These areas should be clean and well-maintained, and the puppies should seem comfortable living there. A few other items to keep an eye out for are:
- Clean, comfortable, dry bedding
- Food and clean water
- Ample living space
- Designated space for exercise
Notice the puppies’ behavior and how they respond to the staff members.
The puppies should seem happy, clean, and healthy. They should be excited to meet new people and interact with the staff. The staff should encourage you to handle multiple puppies to best determine which one you connect with. Warning signs that the puppies are not being well cared for are:
- Runny eyes and nose
- Weak, malnourished, and lethargic
- Uninterested in interacting with you
- Uninterested in interacting with his brothers and sisters
Take note of certifications and licenses
The retailer should be fully up to date on certifications and licenses required to sell puppies. It’s a bonus if they voluntarily invest in additional certifications to maintain a reputable business. If you do not see any signs of proper certifications or licenses, ask to see them. It’s a red flag if the retailer is unable to do so.