Choosing The Right Dog

We've all heard of  love at first sight, but have you ever heard of  love at first sight... with your dog? 

As part of our 'Puppy Love' campaign, we conducted a survey* to find out just how long it takes for the average Brit to know their pooch is "the one." Proving that Britain really is a nation of dog lovers, our results showed that it was instant love with their furry friend for 76% of people asked, compared to only 49% of people falling in love at first sight with their partner.

Our research also found that 53% of people prefer to snuggle with their dog than their significant other,as well as over half saying they prefer their canine companion to humans! To celebrate our love for dogs, we've asked three family bloggers to share just how long it took for them to fall in love with their four-legged friends. We've also teamed up with Carolyn Menteith, Agria Behaviourist and Trainer, to share her top tips on how to make sure your new pooch really is "the one" for you and your family.

Tin Box Dog

The moment Claire, blogger for Tin Box Traveller, met the blundering bundle of fluff that was Tin Box Dog (TBD), she was immediately smitten and knew straight away that she was the perfect puppy for her.

Claire was cautious about buying a furry friend as she'd previously owned dogs as a teen and knew the responsibility that came with them. However, after several months of discussions with Mr Tin Box, they decided to contact a breeder through the Kennel Club. With plans for children in the future, a family-friendly dog was a must, so they decided upon a Labrador Retriever as the breed is well-known for being loving, good with other animals and great with kids.

Before bringing TBD home, Claire made sure to prepare the home, ready for her arrival. She created a place for her new dog to sleep, made sure the garden was dog-proofed and found dog socialisation classes for TBD to attend. TBD was Claire's "first baby," and eight years later, she's still an important part of the family.

Read Claire's full post here

Oscar

Having always had a dog as a child growing up, Laura, blogger for Five Little Doves, knew that she wanted exactly the same for her own family. However, after their first dog Charlie passed away, her heart was broken, and she initially vowed that she would never have another dog. But after seeing pictures of adorable Cavapoochons,  she started to think that a smaller dog could be perfect for her growing family, and she found herself contacting a breeder to go and have a look at their litter. As soon as she set eyes upon Oscar, it took a split-second for Laura to know that he was the perfect little puppy to fill the dog-shaped hole in their lives.

Laura would compare owning a puppy to having a newborn baby, and it wasn't long before Oscar had the entire family wrapped around his little finger. As he's grown bigger, fluffier and noisier, Laura has embraced all of Oscar's quirks and character traits, enjoying every last one.

Read Laura's full post here

Hendrix

After saying goodbye to their previous dog, Louise, blogger for Pink Pear Bear, missed having a canine friend in the family. So, when her husband Dave persuaded her to go and visit a breeder with a litter of Labradors, she couldn't resist their lovable little faces, and she just knew they had to have one.

When deciding on a puppy, Louise put a lot of thought into the colour and knew that she wanted a yellow Lab over a black one. Her reason for this was because she thought that having a pale face would make it easier for the children to identify the dog's facial expressions. The minute she saw Hendrix, the palest golden in the litter, she knew that she wanted to take him home forever.

For Louise, socialising Hendrix was one of the most important parts of his training. From dog-friendly cafes to puppy play dates, she took him everywhere with her. Although Louise and Hendrix have been on a bit of journey getting to know each other, he's been the best thing for their family and she couldn't be without him.

Read Louise's full post here

We also spoke to Carolyn Menteith, award-winning Agria Behaviourist and Trainer, and it came as no surprise to her that Britain has such a strong bond with their pooches.

However, when it comes to owning a four-legged friend, responsible dog ownership is key, so Carolyn has shared some of her top tips for dog owners:

Carolyn's Top Tips for Dog Owners:

Choosing the right dog for you: It's so important to do your research before choosing your canine companion, as each breed has different requirements. Popular events such as Crufts and Discover Dogs are great places to meet a variety of breeds, as well as speak to the owners and learn about each breed's unique personalities. When choosing a new pooch, it's important not just to think, 'is this the dog I want?' but, 'would that dog want me?'

Finding a reputable breeder: When buying a puppy, a reputable breeder is extremely important, not just for health reasons, but also from a behaviour perspective. Brain development in dogs happens within the first seven weeks of their life, which is when they are with the breeder. If you miss this crucial period of brain development you can never get it back, which is why, quite often, puppies who come from puppy farms or irresponsible breeders can be a real problem behaviour-wise.

Kennel Club Assured Breeders are a good place to start as there are specific standards they must meet. A good breeder will also spend time quizzing you about whether you're going to be a responsible pet owner. However, you should always visit the puppies with their mother, so you can learn about where they came from.

Rescuing a shelter dog: When buying a furry friend, rescue dogs can be a fantastic option as what you see is what you get. You know what they'll look like, what their personalities are, and you'll have a good idea of what they are going to be like to live with. Before selecting a rescue dog, it's important to do your research and have a clear idea of the type of pooch that will suit your lifestyle, as when you arrive at the rescue centre, you'll want to take them all home.

Bringing your new dog home: The first thing to do is make sure your home is ready with everything your new dog is going to need, such as a bed and food. Give your new addition some time and space to settle in without putting rules and demands in place or expecting them to be instantly affectionate. They need time to investigate their new home and learn that it's going to be a safe place. If you have other dogs, a baby gate is really useful, as it can allow the dogs to get used to being around each other without having direct contact.

Responsible dog ownership: The first step of responsible dog ownership is to properly consider whether you actually have the time for a dog. Having a pooch is fantastic, but it's also a privilege, so you shouldn't make the commitment if you can't meet your pups needs.

Whether you're welcoming a tiny puppy or a lovable rescue pooch, pet insurance is vital for any dog. Until March 31st, Agria is making prioritising our pets' health easier than ever, with their 'Healthy Start' campaign. Customers taking out a full policy with Agria will receive £50 to spend on anything with their vet that supports their pet's health, such as vaccinations, dental checks and puppy packs.

Do you have a 'Puppy Love' story of your own? If so we'd love to hear it! Share your stories with us on Twitter using #Puppylove.

* Data acquired from a OnePoll survey of 2,000 dog owners