Once you've decided that you're ready for the commitment of owning a dog the next thing you'll need to do is to decide where you want to get your puppy from.

And while you may have been tempted by pups you see in pet shop windows, you need to be very careful about this source, as often dogs sold in this way are from puppy farms where both mother and puppy are kept in poor conditions.

Not only is it important that owners don't support the cruel practice of puppy farming, but dogs that come from this environment are often less healthy due to their tough start in life and may well rack up the veterinary bills.

Fortunately, there are a number of far better options to choose from that will help ensure you bring home a happy, healthy and loving pooch.

"Most people will be thinking of getting a young dog so they need to think carefully about where to get their puppy from," says Nick Honour, canine behaviour specialist with The Behaviour Company. "There are plenty of options - kennel breeders, home breeders, shelters, the internet and many others."

And even when you've decided where you want to get your puppy from there are still a number of considerations that you need to bear in mind. For instance, if you opt for a breeder it's best to find one that is part of the Kennel Club Assured Breeders Scheme. Or if you choose to adopt a dog from a shelter you'll need to decide whether you want an adult pooch or a younger pup.

The important thing, however, is to do your research and explore all the options open to you so you can be sure you make the right decision and provide a loving home for your new pet.

"The first few weeks of a puppy's life are vitally important in forming their character so think carefully about the environment your puppy has come from," Mr Honour adds. "Before you get your dog it's well worth reading up."

Written by: Hannah