Bringing a new puppy home is certainly an exciting task, however many people underestimate just how much preparation and care has to go into this venture! There are also a number of expectations that either have to be met, or sometimes even relinquished (such as the expectation that your new friend will never have an accident in the house or shred something you love). Therefore adopting a new puppy comes with physical preparations, but also a lot of behavioural preparation, for yourself AND your puppy.
For the physical preparation, here are some things that are crucial to ensuring your new friend will have as seamless of a transition as possible:
- Gather all the supplies you need! This includes:
- Food and water bowls
- LOTS of poop bags
- Training pads
- Collar with ID tags
- Grooming items like a brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, and shampoo
- If needed, a gate
- Good carpet cleaner, as well as lots of paper towels or cleaning cloths
- Puppy food and treats
- LOTS of toys (puzzle toys, chew toys, and chase toys are all essential)
- Puppy-proof your space! If you’ve already had a child, you’ll be no stranger to having to baby-proof your home, and it’s truly not much different for a puppy. If you don’t have any experience with curious toddlers, there’s a few key things to keep in mind when puppy-proofing:
- Move electrical cords out of reach (or get a cord concealer if possible), since they can be a huge chewing hazard; this can also apply to electronics such as batteries, remotes, key fobs, etc.
- Make sure any chemical-based products (such as cleaning supplies and even medication) are out of reach or locked away
- Do a quick sweep of your home to check for any small items that could be choking hazards
- Move poisonous plants out of the way so they don’t get eaten
- Ensure all your trash cans are inaccessible
- Set up puppy gates for rooms you might not want your puppy to access
- If you have any fancy bags or shoes you don’t want to become potential chewing toys, keep them out of reach or in bins or containers that can’t be accessed (closets that can’t be easily opened, or bins that have a lid and that can go under a bed are great ideas for this)
- Keep a list of necessary contact numbers, such as for a vet, pet hospital, petsitter, groomer, etc.
- Introduce your puppy to your home and family! It is much easier to introduce a puppy to a home if you’re the only living person there, but when a family is involved, there are a few extra steps to keep in mind. Generally, it is recommended that you introduce your family to your puppy one person at a time. If you have other pets in the home, the importance of having pet gates grows tenfold. If you can have your pets get used to each other’s presence with scent and visuals first, it’ll make physical introductions much easier.
- Make sure you are following the schedule for dog vaccinations and checkups so you can stay on top of their health. Also, take note of any warning signs, such as repeated scratching, red eyes, inconsistent poop, lethargy, any discharges, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, and any cuts or abrasions on their paws.
In terms of behavioural preparation:
- Develop a consistent routine with your puppy. This involves feeding times, walks, and general training, whether for a crate, or for commands; puppies are extremely malleable, so it’s easiest to take advantage of this and start reinforcing good behaviour and habits at this early age. Maintain positive affirmations and mannerisms so you can build a strong bond!
- Be prepared for a few restless weeks; the first few nights are generally the hardest, since your puppy may cry and your instinct will always be to console them. If you’re crate training them, it is generally best if you abstain from relenting and letting them out of the crate when they’re crying, since then they’ll get used to it and will not learn to understand the rules. That being said, it’s also important to make sure your puppy doesn’t actually have to go potty – it’s best to take them out before bed and first thing in the morning for this reason.
Most importantly though, enjoy your puppy! You and your new friend will have so many fun adventures and make so many memories together. It’ll be one of the best and most rewarding experiences. Puppies reduce stress and anxiety, encourage you to move and be social, and even help with the development of children; they will completely embellish your life!
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