Hurray! So you’ve made the decision to bring a dog into your home. You’ve already picked out a reliable breeder or adoption shelter and now it’s all about preparing for that day when you’ll be bringing your puppy home. But, where to start? We’ve compiled 10 practical things to consider when collecting your first puppy that really helped us prepare before our first pet came bounding into our home!
1) Read up on becoming a responsible dog owner
There are many books available to help you read up on what is entailed in becoming a responsible dog owner and to understand the particular dog breed you’ve opted for.
All dog breeds are different in their personality traits, obedience, exercise, food intake and needs so it will be important for you to get to grips with what your dog is going to be all about.
2) Get yourself set up with the puppy basics
Your puppy is going to need the basic accessories in order to get you started. These don’t need to be the best of the bunch in terms of luxury items as it’s more than likely during teething your puppy will bite it to shreds anyway! So think about getting:
- A basic bed that is practical in terms of cleaning
- 2 x shallow bowls for food and water
- A lightweight puppy collar that is suitable for your breed
- A short puppy lead
- Toys that provide fun, exercise and learning opportunities
3) Puppy-proofing your home
Puppies, like children need to be looked after in the home. When you start to think about it, there are a huge amount of potential hazards in the home that you’ll need to consider in protecting your puppy until it learns from right and wrong.
Both indoor and outside should be fenced off until the puppy is big enough to negotiate them with ease. Look at getting a baby gate or similar to avoid potential accidents from happening. Certain research has shown stairs when too young can create joint or bone damage.
- Cables or hanging materials
Whether you like it or not, chewing is a fact of puppy life! So firstly get all your lovely shoes, clothes, handbags and anything else you don’t want chewed up out of the way! Make sure electric cables and hanging materials are stowed away and out of puppy eyesight.
- Fences and gates
All puppies will either try and follow you or as they become more confident in their new home, start to explore. Make sure the boundaries of your home are secure, particularly if you do live near a busy road to keep your puppy from danger.
- Check your garden
Believe it or not gardens can be dangerous places for puppies, as there are a lot of potentially poisonous plants. Read up on which plants may present a hazard to your dog and give your garden a once over. If you have a compost heap, you’ll want to ensure it is properly enclosed as fruits such as avocados can be highly dangerous for dogs to get hold of the pip.
- Swimming pools and ponds
Secure any water around you including swimming pools and ponds, as puppies won’t know what this is and how to act around them in the first instance. Things like fish ponds can be a huge attraction.
- Secure your cupboards and toilets!
As your puppy starts to get more confident and cheeky, you’ll want to consider fitting childproof latches to your kitchen cupboards and also ensuring the toilet lid is closed to avoid them using this for water.
4) Deciding who is leader of the pack in your household
Dogs work in packs, so when they come into your household it’s important you put them in their place of obedience. Asserting a ‘leader’ of this pack (so to speak) will ensure the dog knows who is the ultimate owner to take note of.
5) Agreeing day-to-day care
Dogs shouldn’t be left alone for more than 3 hours, and when puppies even less, if at all. So, you’ll want to ensure you have day care arranged. Whether that is you have someone who works from home or a day care centre to go to – get this sorted and agreed before you take on a dog.
6) Find your nearest vet
When picking up your puppy you should double check with the breeder or shelter what injections your puppy has had. Before they can go outside they need to have had a series of injections and worming tablets to keep them safe. If you’re not sure, go and check with your nearest vet and they’ll ensure your puppy is ready to explore the world.
7) Get pet insurance
You’ll want to ensure you are insured when you have a pet – as should anything go wrong such as your dog suddenly needs an operation, you’ll find you have to pay a large sum of money. Whereas if you are already insured, you’ll be protected from paying out high costs. There are a range of options here, but we find getting advice from your vet often the best bet.
8) Puppy food at the ready!
Puppies will eat quite regularly throughout the day at first, which will get reduced as they get older. They start on soft puppy food before moving onto harder food should you choose to change them over as they get older.
To avoid letting your puppy get an upset stomach, ask the breeder or shelter what they’ve been giving the puppy to eat and at what times of the day they’ve been feeding them and stick to this as best as possible in the first instance. If you are uncertain about the food, it’s always advisable to get recommendations from your vet.
9) Be prepared for the car journey home with your new puppy
If possible, take someone with you to help care for the puppy whilst you are driving home from your breeder or animal shelter. Ideally take the bed or a box for the puppy to sit in and take a blanket to run onto the parent dogs or sibling puppies to help retain the smell the puppy knows until it’s confident in its surrounding.
You’ll want to avoid loud screams and music to keep the puppy as calm as possible. Often travelling in the footwell of the car can help to avoid seeing unnecessary movement, which can sometimes lead to car sickness.
10) Let the puppy training begin!
Once you’re all settled, your responsibility to bring up your puppy as best as your possibly can truly begins! That includes training and socialising classes, regular exercise, training and acceptable behavioural skills around different situations, amongst having fun of course!
Having a new puppy is simply the best time, but can also give you a lot of responsibility – you now have another living thing to look after who depends on you for everything. So go out there and have fun – enjoy it, train it, love it!