When you bring home a new puppy, your life as you know it is over- it is forever changed in the blink of an eye. Sure, puppies can be tons of work- but they also bring tons of joy to your world.
So, whether this is your first puppy or it’s been awhile, here are a few things that you need to know about owning a puppy from welcoming him into your home, to training him and keeping him healthy. These tips are going to help you get and keep him on the right track for a healthy life.
How to Choose the Right Puppy
So, you think that the time has finally come for you to bring a new puppy into your life. That’s great! In some cases, you will see that your future companion has found you. He has simply come into your life by chance and you have a sudden connection.
You know deep down that this is the one you want. However, it doesn’t always work like this. In many cases, you actually do need to take the time to go out and find the best puppy for you and your family.
First of all, you need to start by examining your lifestyle and think about exactly what you are looking for in a puppy. Do you want a purebred or a mixed breed? Do you want a big dog or a small one? What type of dog do you reasonably have time to take care of?
Your living situation should be a consideration when choosing what breed of dog to get. Some breeds like huskies and australian shepherds are more energetic and require more space to get adequate exercise. The bigger the dog, the more room they need to exercise.
Some other factors you must keep in mind are his grooming needs, his temperament, and any potential health issues you may have to deal with. Then, you must take the time to figure out where you plan to find your new puppy.
I highly recommend looking at local rescue groups for breeds you are interested in. Rescue groups tend to be very knowledgeable about the breed and can assist you in taking care of your puppy. Some pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills, which is a big no when buying a puppy. Do some background research on any location you plan to buy a puppy from.
You will need to have plenty of patience during this whole process. Once you have found the right puppy, you will have a friend for life.
How to Prepare Your Home for Your New Puppy
Before you come home with your new ball of fur, you are going to need to take the time to “puppy-proof” your home. This is very much like “toddler-proofing” your home, with a few differences. Get down on the floor and get a view of your home from the level of your puppy. You should make sure that electrical cords, breakable items, and potential toxins are up and out of reach.
You must also keep in mind that puppies can jump, chew, scratch, and climb- so make sure everything is placed high up or locked away. Unfortunately, even the “child-safe” latches are not going to work on a puppy that is curious and determined. Therefore, it’s best if you secure drawers/cabinets with locks/metal hardware.
Basically, it should be something that he can’t chew through and that you need thumbs to operate. Properly “puppy-proofing” your home will keep your puppy safe and give you the peace of mind every new dog owner needs.
Naming Your Puppy
When you welcome your new puppy into the family, the important task of giving him a proper name becomes quite important. Keep in mind that this is something you’re going to be using for the rest of his life, so make sure that you choose wisely.
You want to choose a name that has a nice ring and isn’t too long. It should be something that’s easy for you and everyone else to say and simple enough that your puppy can understand it.
You might want to name him something that describes his appearance or personality. Then again, you might want to choose a unique name. Check out some name suggestions to help you with this decision.
Once you have chosen your dog’s name, make sure that you’re using it regularly- it won’t be long that he’ll start learning his name and responding to it when you say it.
Gathering Necessary Puppy Supplies
You are going to need specific items for your puppy from the very beginning. Some of these items are going to be necessary for his well-being and others are going to be helpful for you. Some of the most important items include: leash, collar with ID, food/water bowls, and toys. You also want to get him a comfy dog bed and a crate/kennel (if you choose to crate train them).
Some of these items are going to last for a while, but others are going to need to be replaced- sometimes several times. Collars are typically adjustable to a certain point. You can purchase a larger kennel that he can grow into, but make sure you block it off with boxes, or other objects so it’s the right size for him as a puppy.
Finally, make sure that you budget accordingly because you are going to have some extra expenses associated with owning a dog. Along with the items listed above there will be medical expenses too (some routine, some unexpected).
You might want to get dog insurance to cover unexpected expenses. If you choose to do this you can get a better deal when your dog is young. A lot of insurance plans aren’t available to some dogs after a certain age.
How to Choose Your Puppy’s Food
Your puppy’s health and well-being are very heavily dependent upon his diet. Before you choose a puppy food, make sure that you take the time to do some research. Discuss it with your vet and other pet professionals as well as other dog owners.
These days, there seems to be no end to the choices in dog food. Some owners feed their dog the premium foods, and others believe that the natural/holistic diets are best. The homemade/raw diets are becoming more popular too.
When you are researching foods, make sure that you take into consideration the taste, quality of ingredients, and whether or not the proper nutrients have been included. The food should be healthy and nutritious and something that your dog will enjoy.
As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the dog food, the better quality it is. Usually these brands have a more diverse list of ingredients & nutrients which are beneficial to your pup’s overall health. It’s worth it in the long run to spend a little bit more on a higher quality dog food. Imagine what your health would be like if you only ate the cheapest food available!
How to Keep Your Puppy Healthy
You really want to do some research and find a veterinarian before you get your puppy and bring him home. Then, a few days after you have brought him home, you need to get him in to see the vet for a basic exam. You want to make sure you do what you can to make this experience pleasant for him.
Your vet will be able to pinpoint any potential health issues early and give you advice for taking care of your dog long-term. Plus, this first visit will help to open up the lines of communication for you and the vet.
During the first six months of your puppy’s life, you are going to see the vet on a regular basis. This will typically begin with vaccinations and eventually will lead to spaying or neutering. If you do plan to spay/neuter your puppy, it should be done around six months of age.
If you want to keep down the cost of health care for your dog, you might want to consider pet health insurance, which may cover around 80 percent of health care costs.
Getting Your Puppy Vaccinated
One of the most important aspects of your puppy’s early life is the vaccination series that he will be getting. Most vets have moved to a three-year protocol instead of annual vaccines for adult dogs. However, the process is different for puppies.
Just like babies, puppies at least need to be getting the basic vaccines. Plus, these regular vaccination visits allow the vet to keep a close eye on the overall health and growth of your puppy. Discuss the best schedule for immunization for your puppy with your vet.
How to Housetrain Your Puppy
One of the very first things you will be teaching your new puppy is housebreaking. This can be a difficult task- some breeds catch on more quickly than others. As soon as you bring him home, this process should begin- but you must remain patient.
Typically, puppies are not really able to control their bladders/bowels until they are at least 12 weeks (3 months) old. If you have a younger puppy, stay patient with him.
Getting started with this process early on helps to establish a routine for your puppy. Then, as he begins to grow and develops more control over his body, he’ll know what he’s supposed to do.
You should make it a habit to take him to a “potty spot” as soon as he is finished eating or drinking. However, keep in mind that accidents are going to happen, so always be prepared, patient, and consistent.
Basics of Training & Socialization
In addition to housebreaking, there are lots of other things that you will need to work on teaching your dog. One of the first things you should do is socialize him. Then, leash training will establish the groundwork for teaching basic commands such as “stay”, “sit”, and “come.” These will help you to avoid some common behavioral issues.
Remember though, puppies are naturally curious and active- and they are teething. Everything will go in their mouths, including your hands. You want to work on breaking this habit by giving him more acceptable things such as chews and toys.
You want to discourage mischievous behavior by offering him something else such as playtime or walking. When he does shift his attention, reward him with a treat and/or praise. Training a puppy is definitely challenging, but the rewards are worth it.
How to Bond with Your Puppy
The moment you bring a new puppy into your life, that bond is established and continues to grow as he does. You can nurture this through grooming, general exercise/playtime, training, and affection. You might want to consider going to an obedience class, taking part in dog shows, and training in dog sports such as flyball or agility.
One great way to bond with your dog is to get involved with animal assisted therapy. If you have a puppy that is right for this, you can start having him trained early on.
He can visit people in nursing homes or children in schools to help them read/learn. Strengthening and preserving the bond between canines and humans is beneficial to the health and happiness of you and your dog.
If you have a baby in the house you can check out this infographic on introducing your dog to your baby.
If you’re looking to get a puppy make sure you do plenty of research on the specific breeds you are looking at. I suggest contacting local rescue groups to get more information on the breed. You can get an owner’s perspective and learn more about what it’s like to take care of and raise that breed of dog.
Any reputable rescue group will be full of passionate volunteers willing to help out the pups in any way possible. Be skeptical of groups that don’t have many requirements for taking a dog home or seem to be lacking in their knowledge of the breed. You should get a genuine sense of caring for the breed from the rescue group.
Bringing home a puppy is a major change- one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can’t simply bring home a dog because you don’t want to be lonely. You must spend time with him and take care of him. These tips will help you to get started with your new puppy!