How to Be a Prepared Puppy Parent
There are few things more adorable than a playful puppy. And there are few things more exciting than bringing yours home for the first time. You and your pup are going to do everything together and be lifelong friends, and you’ve probably already been dreaming of this experience for years.
Before diving right in, however, there are a number of things to take into consideration in order to make sure you are able to give your pup a good life in its forever home. Many dog owners consider adopting a puppy comparable to having a baby. Although this certainly isn’t true in every sense of the analogy, there are a handful of similarities.
If you are thinking about bringing a puppy into your life, be sure to take into account all of the inevitabilities of puppy-hood. Furthermore, think about life for you and your dog beyond just the first year. As you prepare for a new, furry family member, here are a few things to help you get fully ready.
As most dog owners will tell you, home proofing for your pet is an essential part of dog ownership. If you forget something or don’t home proof at all, they will inevitably get into trouble the second you look away. This behavior can be exceedingly frustrating for you and potentially dangerous for your pup. Try to not get frustrated though; your puppy doesn’t know any better and you are learning as well.
The best way to puppy proof your home is to start on their level. From a dog’s eye view, what are they going to be able to see and get into?
Consider things such as:
- Electrical cords that can be chewed on.
- Garbage cans that could get knocked over.
- Home cleaners that may be broken into.
- Shoes and other floor clutter that might look like good chew toys.
- Food and drinks on counters that may smell yummy.
- Small holes and crevices they could sneak out through or get stuck in.
- Floor plants that could be toxic if eaten.
- Home decor that can be easily knocked over or broken.
Once these things have been identified, take steps to remove the problems, whether it is finding a new home for the trash can or spraying electrical cords with vinegar so they taste bad.
Beyond damage control, also evaluate the rules you want in place for the home before your puppy ever gets there. For example, will they be allowed on the bed? The couch? What about in the kitchen while you’re cooking?
Another thing that many new dog owners don’t really think about before jumping in is just how expensive having a dog can be. Before adopting, it is valuable to incorporate pet expenses into your family budget. And definitely do not just consider the first year basics, pets are a long-term commitment, and you will need to be able to provide for them medically and otherwise through life and into old age.
When first starting out, here are things to make sure you have budgeted for:
- Collar, tags, and micro-chipping
- Regular veterinary appointments
- Food and treats
- Food and water bowls
- A crate and bed to sleep in
- Leash and poop bags for walks
- Training classes
Some of these things can be more or less expensive based on what you’d like for your dog. For instance, raw food diets are all the rage for pets, which can be a good or bad thing both for the health of your dog and for your wallet. Some owners love raw food diets because they are easier to digest for their pups, while others dislike issues such as potential bacterial illness.
Researching on your own and determining what works best for your dog is the best way to make a final decision. Likewise, your puppy may be easily entertained with a cheap tennis ball or may need a few more toy options to keep from chewing on the couch leg.
Before getting a puppy, it is critical to really evaluate your lifestyle and decide if you really do have the time to give a dog a good life. Dogs need a considerable amount of attention, which means building your evenings around dog-friendly activities. You may not be able to go out with friends for happy hour after work because your pup needs some time out of its crate. And it may be more difficult to go on vacation because you also need to pay for a dog sitter.
It’s equally important to find a breed that suits the way you already live. For example, are you active enough to keep a high energy dog under control? Or do you really just need a dog that is content to cruise the backyard and neighborhoods on shorter outings? Will your puppy actually
You may also find that you have to cancel certain events because your pet is ill. Having emergency money on hand and the time flexibility to take your pet to the vet is important. While some medications for people may also be safe for pets — for example, medicines such as Cipro can be given to your pup at a dog-sized dosage — they still need to be prescribed by a veterinarian at the correct dosages.
All of these lifestyle changes are part of owning and loving a pet and need to be thought about prior to adopting.
Finally, before bringing your new fur baby home, make a plan for the training you hope to accomplish and how you are going to make it happen. Obviously, potty training your puppy is the big one. Some of the best ways to work through this one are to create a schedule, use positive training techniques, and be vigilant about signs they need to go outside.
Many people also like to have their puppies crate trained so that they can be comfortable in a safe space while their owners are away. This can be a great thing if your puppy is destructive when you are out of the house. It can also be beneficial for dogs to have a safe space to sleep in at night or to go to if they get anxious around a lot of people. Dogs are den animals and enjoy having an enclosed space to call their own, and a crate can provide them with that.
Depending on the amount of training you would like for your dog to have and the amount of experience you already have with training a pet, training classes may be a good option. These classes can be a great way to gain confidence as an owner and build a stronger bond with your puppy. They can also be a great start for learning valuable skills such as: to sit, stay, come, and walk nicely on a leash.
Getting a puppy is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. In preparation for getting a dog, be sure to take steps to puppy-proof your home, budget appropriately, adjust for any lifestyle changes, and think about the types of training you’d like your dog to have. All of these things are part of the process of developing a lifelong, happy relationship with a loving pet — have fun!