So.....you've decided you are adopting a puppy!! Now What?!! Where do you look? Well.....there are many places you can get a puppy and many different opinions on what temperament to look for. I am just going to keep this to a minimum!
Rescues. Believe it or not, there are lots of puppies at rescues! There are also more than just SPCA and city shelters, there are many privately run shelters....having said this, these people are doing a wonderful service but generally do not have the resources to do any form of temperament or behaviour assessment. This means, if you are looking at a puppy a bit older, above the 16 week mark, there is potential for problems that the rescue does not know about such as resource guarding, separation anxiety, and reactivity towards people, dogs etc.It's something to be aware of, but there are many, many lovely puppies looking for homes too! At 16 weeks old, there is also much that can be done to address these issues!
Online. (Including backyard breeders) Well, this is very broad. Be very weary of kijiji and craiglist pups. You have no idea about where these pups have actually come from and these people are charging money for their dogs (usually!) If you are going to go this route, ask a lot of questions!! Meet the parents and at the least, meet the mom! This can tell you a lot! Does she let you see the puppies, or is she guardy with you or the pups? How do the pups play together? What is the home like that the puppies are in? If the puppies are not in the home environment (ie: in a garage), leave and do NOT adopt this puppy!!! Petfinder is a good resource, a lot of rescues advertise on it and it is quite user friendly. Are there toys around for the pups to play with? How about some other novel objects for them to investigate? This is crucial to confidence building at this young age!
Breeders. Breeders can be an excellent resource for many reasons. They know their breed! They should be able to tell you the good and the bad!!! You still need to go and visit the home etc. They also need to tell you about testing for medical problems that run in the breed and if they test for that. They generally offer a health guarantee too. Nothing is really a guarantee but they do their best for the breed they care about the most. They also often have rescues that they work with (for their particular breed).....this is how I found my first rescue, a 6 month old Griffon Wirehaired Pointer!!
Pet Stores. I am not even going to say more then, JUST DON'T DO IT. EVER!
Look for a puppy that plays with the other puppies but doesn't get into little scraps with them!
Look for a puppy that is inquisitive but not shy, fear at the age you will be looking at a pup, is generally genetic and will be harder to work with as a result.
Grab a toy and look for a puppy that engages with you.
Call the puppy with some happy sounds and see if she/he follows you!
Go with the one that “feels” right because in the end, socialization and training will be the ultimate key!!!!!
The heavy temperament testing we used to do is no longer done, my only red flag I look for is fear, a puppy sitting alone instead of engaging with people or siblings.