Once upon a time, it was easy to find somewhere to buy puppies. You just went down to the local pet store and asked, ‘How much is that doggy in the window?’

But how times have changed! Now you can buy dogs from pet stores, online, through newspaper advertisements, from friends, from breeders, and from shelters, council pounds and rescue agencies.

With all this choice, how can you be sure you’re buying a puppy from the right place?

Well, the one place you shouldn’t buy a puppy from is the first one I mentioned: the pet store.

Do you know where pet shop puppies come from? Many of them come from puppy mills.

What are puppy mills? Puppy mills or puppy farms are places that keep large numbers of dogs (often purebred), from which they breed hundreds and even thousands of puppies each year. To do this, they keep the dogs in small cages and breed from them until they are exhausted and can breed no more.

Puppy mills really are simply puppy factories: churning out hundreds or thousands of pups with no regard for the mother dogs’ health or the puppies’ mental health (after all, when you deal in hundreds of dogs it’s easy to find another if one dies). Any health or temperament problems will be passed on to the person who buys the puppy from the pet shop. That buyer will never know where their puppy came from or how it was raised for its first few weeks.

Puppy mills, once they are discovered, are often closed down by animal welfare organisations if they blatantly break animal welfare laws. But many manage to operate just inside the law and can claim to be perfectly legal.

Pet stores also often sell puppies under age--that is, at less than 8 weeks old. This is not good for the puppy’s healthy mental development and can lead to behaviour problems in later years.

So where do you buy a puppy if not at the handy local pet store?

Fortunately, there are many more options for buying a dog! The best places are animal shelters or rescue agencies that arrange puppy adoption, or to go to a registered breeder.

By adopting a puppy from a shelter or council pound, you will be rescuing some poor dog who has ended up without a home, often through no fault of its own. When you adopt a dog, you save a dog's life.

If you prefer to buy a particular breed of dog and can’t find what you want in a shelter or pound, your best choice is a registered breeder. Check with your local kennel club for a list of registered breeders who have the breed of dog you’re looking for. You can visit the breeder, check out the parent dogs and see how your puppy will be raised. Breeders can also answer all your questions about the breed and how to look after it.

How much is that doggy in the window? Well, if it’s from a puppy mill, the puppy and its parents will have paid a very high price to arrive in the pet store. So don’t buy puppies from pet stores: check out your local shelter or registered breeders instead.

Author's Bio: 

Jay Roach is passionate about the proper care and training of puppies, and about helping new dog owners understand their furry friends. For more facts, tips and guidance on where to buy puppies, and on raising and training a puppy, visit puppyprimer.com