All dog owners will agree that there is nothing more exciting than bringing a puppy into your home for the first time and spending time playing games and bonding with your new pooch.
However, it is important to remember that owning a dog is a huge commitment and is not a decision that should ever be taken lightly.
But if after careful consideration you do decide that you have the time, space and finances to dedicate to a pup, the next step is to have a think about the sort of pooch you want to bring into your household.
It may be tempting to rush out and bring home the first cute pup you set your eyes on, but it's unwise to pick a dog on physical characteristics alone, and instead it is advisable to carefully consider the type of pup that will best fit into your home and lifestyle.
Although every dog has their own individual personality, there are certain characteristics associated with different breeds or crossbreeds, and this may well influence the pooch you chose.
For instance, if you have kids at home, it's a good idea to opt for a breed that is known to fit in well with families - such as a Golden Retriever or a Spaniel - or if you have other pets such as birds and cats, it may be worth avoiding terriers and other dogs that have been bred to chase.
New dog owners should also think carefully about issues such as how much room they have at home and how much time they can dedicate to their pooch, as if you only have limited outdoor space a high-energy breed such as a Border collie or a Jack Russell may not be the best choice.
If you've decided to go for a pedigree dog, then the most important consideration should be that you buy your pup from a reputable breeder, and steer well clear of puppy farms and pet shops where the animals may not have been treated well.
If possible, look for a dog from the Kennel Club Assured Breeders list, as these breeders will have signed up for health screening schemes, such as testing for hip problems and eye conditions, which will help ensure the future health of your puppy.
Take the opportunity to handle with all the puppies before you make your choice. In general, you should go for a pooch that is playful, confident and happily munches down their dry dog food, rather than one that seems nervous and timid, as they are more likely to grow up into a well-adjusted family dog.
If you've got the time, space and love to offer a puppy, you may want to consider adopting a pooch from your local animal shelter or dog home rather than going to a breeder.
In this case staff at the rehoming centre will be on hand to help you pick out the best puppy to match your lifestyle and personality, and will also offer you advice on all the initial responsibilities such as vaccinations, microchipping and puppy-proofing your home.
If you decide to go down this route be sure to ask plenty of questions, such as whether the puppy will be happy around children and if they will be comfortable in a household with other pets.
You may need to re-visit the centre more than once and spend plenty of time getting to know a dog to decide whether they're the perfect pooch for you, but this can be a very rewarding way of finding your new pet.
Written by: Hannah Dyball