There Are 100 Things to Consider Before Bringing Home Your New Puppy
Dog ownership is rewarding, but it is also a big responsibility. Almost everyone loves dogs, but not everyone understands dogs. They are cute. They are great to have around. They will end up being your BFF4E (best friend forever). But, having a dog is a lot like having a child. They are a lot of work and it is a labor of love, for sure. You have to teach your dog everything it knows, be there for it all the time, take it to doctor’s appointments, tell it when and what to eat to be healthy, go to the bathroom, get in and out of the car, and get enough exercise. That is the bad news – your job as a dog owner is never-ending. The good news is that you will have an increased sense of confidence and self-worth when your dog is behaving well and living the good life because everything he is doing is because of the time and hard work you have put into making your new dog the dog of your dreams that you have always wanted.
The tools and knowledge you can gain from browsing this site and the internet at large will make sure you are ready for a dog when you are ready for a dog. You are going to need dog gear like leashes, collars, potty training supplies, and toys for a new puppy, but what you will need more than anything is simple, easy to understand, easy to do yourself, advice from people who already own dogs. Learn common mistakes other dog owners have made, so you can avoid them. Learn tips and tricks that actually work for real dogs that you can try yourself.
Are you ready for a new dog?
Often, soon-to-be dog owners who are planning to bring home a new puppy do not realize what they are in for. Always, new dog owners are excited about their new addition. Everyone loves a cute, happy, playful puppy, with big twinkly puppy dog eyes, a wagging tail, and some slobber dripping off their exhausted, outstretched tongue. But, not always does everyone think about what happens when puppy playtime is over.
Before getting a new puppy, consider how it will affect your established daily routines. Do you like to sleep in in the morning or climb in bed early? Are you going to be able to wake up and get dressed in time to let your dog out in the morning or stay up late enough at night to let him out before bed, so you can avoid him having an accident on your carpet while you are asleep? Do you need 8-12 hours of steady sleep at night? What are you going to do when your puppy needs to pee 2 to 3 times per night? Will you be able to survive off short bursts of sleep instead of one long stretch? Are you holding down a 9 to 5 job that keeps you away from home during the day? Are there other people living in your home who would be affected by the puppy? Even though the puppy may be your puppy it will be impossible to make him understand that other people who are easily accessible may not want to be concerned with a dog. For example, if your new puppy has an accident in front of a roommate or loved one, should it have been their responsibility to notice your dog’s needs and let him outside to the bathroom? What if bringing your attention to the matter takes to long and your puppy makes an accident on the floor? How will you make time to exercise your dog if exercise is not currently something you fit into your schedule? Is there a safe fenced in area that is easily accessible for you to let your dog outside to play or will you have to accompany your dog each time he ventures outside of your house? Are there dog walkers or dog sitters available in your area? What about that vacation coming up next month that you already have plan tickets for? Can your dog come on the plane? Does it need to be boarded? Are you aware of all the medical attention a dog needs? There is spaying/neutering, heartworms, arthritis, hip issues, broken bones, cracked skin, fleas, ticks, and other dog-specific illnesses you will have to worry about. Many dog medical expenses are preventative, so you will be paying for a vet visit and treatment whether your dog’s under the weather or not. And, I hope you are obsessive compulsive about keeping your house clean because an untrained puppy will eat EVERYTHING. Dogs are trained through correcting bad behavior. If your dog is not making mistakes you are not getting opportunities for teachable moments. Something unpleasant happening is unavoidable. Oh, and what about smells? Can you handle smells? And bowel movements? As a responsible dog owner, you are expected to follow your dog around at all times with a tiny, often brightly colored, thin, hand-held plastic waste bag for hand-scooping up your dog’s doo when they decide it is going to be fun to defecate in public places. Sounds fun, right? What happened to twinkly eyes and wagging tails? They’re still there, promise, but all the other stuff comes along with it. Puppies aren’t all peaches and cream. There’s always some piss and vinegar mixed in there, too.
It’s important that your new furry friend can join in your life full-time and not become an afterthought once you have finished with a busy day’s work. Dogs have feelings too. Have you ever seen an ASPCA commercial on TV? Remember how sad all those dogs look? You do not want your dog spending its life staring back at you with the saddest of puppy dog eyes. It is even worse when it is your dog because you love your dog. You have built an emotional attachment and no one likes to see their loved ones sad or in pain. It’s a human syndrome, but you can’t help it. You’re programmed to care, so as long as you’re not a complete sociopath, you’re going to end up wanting to do things with and for your dog to make it happy. Go on walks. Play fetch. Buy it new toys. Try new treats. Keep its mind sharp by teaching it new tricks. Impressing your friends and strangers with the unique neat things your dog can do. If you’re the type of person who thinks you can keep your dog in a crate for 8-10 hours while you’re grinding away at work and that your dog will be a peppy, jubilant, ball of happiness, ready to get up and GO GO GO when you get home, you’ll be predictably mistaken. That’s not how it works. They’ll be happy to see you, but what are the chances you’re going to be physically and mentally tired after slaving away all day in a cubicle or at a manual hands-on job that really does wear you down? Fido needs to be a priority for you. Never forget that. You would never forget to feed a child or leave an infant alone for hours while you’re out without them. Dogs need your love and support as much as you can give it to them, too. All dogs. All breeds. All sizes.
Small children in your home are also something to consider. Most all puppies bite. They’re not usually being aggressive or vicious towards humans. It is more that dogs explore the world with their mouths. You know, not having opposable thumbs and all. Some puppies nip or bite harder than others. They don’t know any better. You have not taught them any better, yet. It’s part of the process, but not everyone is ready to handle that and young children especially do not always understand what’s going on. It’s super important to never leave a dog alone with a child. Even a good dog. You just never know. It may not be the dog’s fault. A child may pull a tail, or an ear, or try to ride a dog, or who knows. Kids have active imaginations and a moving toy presents way more possibilities than a cardboard box you cut a hole in and called a house.
Before Bringing a Puppy Home
Congratulations! You’ve decided to go through with getting a new dog and you’re bringing home a puppy. Puppies are awesome. Everyone should have a puppy at least once in their life. Older dogs are less work and can bond with new owners just as strongly, but there is a special feeling you get from raising a mutt from a puppy to an adult dog while you are learning and growing alongside it.
Now that you have made the decision, there are a few things you should do and take care of before you bring your new puppy home. Why? Because bringing home a new puppy is like bringing home a new baby. Except the baby can walk, thinks everything smells delicious, has razor sharp teeth and nails that shred through everything it sets its sights on and has the stealth creeping abilities of the greatest Shaolin samurai warrior – which can lead to a variety of fun-filled problems if you use your imagination.
So, how exactly do you prepare yourself for such a little furry ball of adorableness? You plan. Let’s plan!
Remember that a puppy is like a person. They need a place to eat, sleep, and be active. They need to be dressed in a collar and a leash. They need to have time dedicated to their daily upbringing. And, they will need you for constant support, guidance, and supervision.
Dog Gear Your New Puppy Needs
It is easiest for a new dog owner to think about materialistic dog needs, so let’s go over those first. There is an entire world of really cool dog gear out there – just take a look at our website to start – but you can get away with only the essentials when you’re just starting out. Dogs don’t actually need all the toys and apparel people buy them to be happy, but none of it hurts and usually, it makes an owner as happy to buy a dog a new toy or treat as it does the dog to receive it.
Your dog will need a collar. If for nothing else, your dog will need a collar so you can attach its rabies, town registration and identification tags to it. Collars are also a great way to create an image for your dog. If your dog is wearing a fun colored collar people may think your dog is nicer than if it is wearing a thick leather collar with spikes. But, to each their own. Dogs are like humans, but they’re still an animal and can be very fun to accessorize. Also, how absolutely cute does a dog look in a bow tie? Point made.
In addition, your dog will need a leash. Your dog loves you, but that does not mean he will stay by your side at all times on a walk. Even if he does stay by your side you may run into a chirpy squirrel that is too good for your dog to pass up. Many towns and cities even require that your dog is on a leash at all times when in public places. Having your dog on a leash is about having the ability to control your dog should it become excited for any reason. You will quickly be able to correct or nullify any situation and everyone will be at ease around you because they will never be worrying about the rogue dog wandering around. You never know if a dog is nice or not if you have yet to meet it, right? Most people will ask a dog owner if it is okay to pet their dog or not before doing so, but how can they do that if your dog is off leash? And, even if your dog is a good dog and off-leashes well, there are still places where leashes will be required or helpful – like when you are around other dogs in a veterinarian’s office – so, you will need one.
Leashes come in many varieties. Braided rope leashes are very comfortable and look stylish because rope can come in many colors and patterns. They are made for small, medium, large, and extra large dogs. Rope tends to have a stronger tensile strength than other materials, so even a small rope may be able to hold back a large dog. If you’ve taught your dog to not pull while on a leash, however, any size leash should work. Retractable leashes are another type of popular leash. A retractable leash is an extendable leash. You hold on to a slightly larger, often plastic, handle area that contains the leash and allows you to control the length of the lead easily with a button. Which type of leash you choose is primarily a matter of personal preference, but more often than not you will find you do not have a need for too long of a leash, so a 4-foot to 6-foot leash is perfectly adequate depending on the height of your dog. Remember, the length of a leash is not only about how far your dog will be from your hand in relation to horizontal distance, but also take into account how much extra leash you will need to go only from your hand to your dog’s collar. Small dogs might need 2 feet of leash just to stand by your side while large dogs may only need a few inches.
When you have a new puppy you need to feed it. Puppies do not eat off the floor. Sure, they will. However, you are going to want to appoint a separate bowl or dish for food and for water to your dog. Showing your new puppy where it can get food and water is actually one of the first things you should do when you bring your puppy home. Dogs tend to feel more relaxed when they know they are safe, warm, loved, and are not going to starve or dehydrate.
What type of dinnerware you purchase for your dog depends on what size dog you have. Bigger dogs need bigger bowls. Really big dogs like Great Danes benefit from having really big bowls that are elevated from the ground. Think about all the times your parents or teachers asked you to sit up straight. When a dog has to bend its neck for an elongated period of time while it is eating – because it cannot go without eating – it is possible for the dog to strain muscles or develop another injury like joint pain. With a smaller breed of dog like a Cairn Terrier, you can use a bowl that sits on the floor. Either way, though, it is recommended that you get a non-slip bowl and feed your dog on a floor that is not carpeted. Metal bowls are cute, but you haven’t felt angst like listening to the sound of a dog push its food bowl around on ceramic tile while it’s huffing down some kibble since last time someone sat you in a corner and made you listen to nails on a chalkboard. Good news, there are many viable options and styles available due to the general popularity of dogs and dog owners like you. There are even fancy dog feeders that double as food storage containers, as well as automatic feed and water dispensers. Really, any amenities that are available to a human are also probably available for dogs. But, for your new puppy, a simple bowl for food and bowl for water will suffice.
To fill those bowls, you NEED to buy puppy food. Puppies have different stuff going on with their bodies than adult dogs, so they benefit from eating food that is specially designed for puppies. They are still growing and need extra nummy vitamins and minerals. It might be intimidating to buy the big bags of dog food – like the ones that you are not sure if they will even fit in your car – but remember your dog is going to live for like 6-18 years depending on breed and it needs to eat an average of 2-5 cups of food per day depending on what stage of life it’s in. You can buy dog food at a lower cost per unit price when you purchase in bulk. You’ll never need to buy a giant sack of dog collars because you’ll never go through them, but you could buy 10 giant sacks of dog food and as long as you keep it from getting stale your dog will eat every kibble.
Hopefully, you live in a place where water is readily available. Dogs need water. A lot of water. It is crucial to their existence. Your dog cannot live without water. If you do not have access to water you will need to find water for your dog to drink. Purchase it from a store or walk to the nearest clean river or spring and figure it out. Or don’t get a dog. Ouch, that was harsh, but when it comes to a dog’s well-being sometimes you need to make tough decisions for the benefit of the canine.
Your dog also needs a place to sleep. You might choose a dog bed or you might choose a crate. Both are good options. Dog beds come in all forms just like people beds. You can get orthopedic dog beds or memory foam dog beds. You can get dog beds that look like sofas and dog beds that look like people beds. They come at ground level and at elevation if you enjoy your dog being close to you while sleeping, but not in your bed.
You might be interested in crate training your puppy. In that case, you would need to buy a dog crate. Dog crates come in sizes to fit all dogs, but the general rule of thumb is that your dog should be able to stand up and turn around. If he can do that then the crate is big enough. Your dog needs to fit inside it not live inside it. Puppies can fit inside small crates, but when fed properly they will grow faster than you expect, causing them to quickly outgrow small crates, so plan and budget appropriately for your situation. Crates are also an excellent tool when you’re potty training. They are a convenient place to keep your puppy at night and for a short time after eating or playing where you will be able to monitor them and bring them to the bathroom before they have a chance to make a mistake in your home. It works so well because 99% of the time dogs will not go to the bathroom where they sleep.
Puppy training pads are another popular item for new puppy owners. They aren’t essential, but they can be quite helpful. The idea of puppy training pads is that they let off a scent that attracts your puppy to use them as a bathroom spot, so you can put them in places where you would like your dog to be when he is thinking of going potty. If you miss him and there is an accident then at least he went on the pad. To speed up housebreaking you need to provide your dog constant supervision. Interrupt him when he makes a mistake. Carry him outside if you can. Reward him with treats and praise when he goes successfully. But, protect your home while he’s learning. Your dog can learn more from failure than success. It’s okay when he pees indoors because you can use it as a teachable moment. It is not okay if he continues to do it over and over and over again. But, some dogs do. And, some owners inevitably aren’t the best with being consistent with their approach and expectations even when they have the best intentions. It happens. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means you will need to buy more puppy pads. An important note is that not all puppy training pads are created equal. Some are less absorbent than others – meaning, just because you have a pad down does not mean the floor underneath will not become saturated with urine.
When puppy potty training mistakes happen in your home you need to have something to clean the mess with. Normal cleaning products WILL NOT WORK. Dogs noses are just that good. Once your dog has marked an area he will continue to go in that area repeatedly because it smells like his scent, so it’s his area. You need a cleaning product designed specifically for removing dog urine odor like Nature’s Miracle or you will never stop your puppy from using your home as a bathroom once it has become an act of habit.
In order to best teach your puppy new tricks and good behavior, you will want to buy treats. And, just because you love him, but that is a given. Treating for love should be limited, as overtreating can lead to weight and health issues with dogs, but treats for training are often the easiest way to teach your dog a new activity.
As with everything dog related, there is dog treats that are made especially for puppies – puppy treats. Dogs love food and dogs love to work or have a job. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Most dogs will do anything for a tasty treat because it makes them feel good to work and because of how yummy the treat is. That is why dog treats are such a popular obedience training tool. As awful as it might sound, it can be simple to convince your dog that what you want is what he wants when you are holding a treat over him. Woof!
When you are done treating, your dog might want to play with a toy. Guess how many different types of dog toys are available in today’s pet market? There are over a million varieties. You can get a dog toy that looks like a duck, dog, cat, squirrel, rat, bird, gopher, woodchuck, rabbit, bone, ball or other AND you can find them in every color of the rainbow if you really want. Dog’s eyes are different than you human eyes, however, and they tend to see the color blue more definitively than say the fluorescent green color of a typical tennis ball.
Dog toys haven’t changed too much over the years. Dog’s don’t have a sense of needing more all the time like humans do. They are still perfectly happy with plushies, balls, and ropes. You could even DIY your own dog toys if you are crafty, but most dog toys are not too expensive and available at your fingertips whether you are out shopping at your local pet store or browsing Amazon products from your smartphone.
Many dogs love squeaky toys. Many owners do not. Most dogs who love squeaky toys or toys that make a noise when the dog chews on them tend to love those toys until they have chewed them apart, torn them open, shredded their insides, and killed the little plastic thing that has been making this most amazing sound for the entire 10 minutes since bringing the toy home from the store. Look, small dogs do better with smaller toys. Not all small dogs. Terriers, for instance, will rip up a plush dog toy just as fast as a Bulldog, but in general, your average discount brand squeaky toy will not hold up to many dogs. They are nice, but you will waste money buying new ones over and over if that is a concern for you. You are better off buying better quality toys chew toys if you are buying chew toys. Like a Nylabone or a toy from the Kong line of dog toys. You can almost always find a toy for every dog, but some dogs will naturally be able to chew through anything. That does not mean you should not buy that type of dog a chew toy if that is your dog, but you might need to do more experimentation on finding the toughest chew toys for dogs that are aggressive or obsessive chewers.
Rope toys are also very popular. Rope toys come in all sizes and colors, so you can mix and match with your dog’s size and accessories. Small rope toys for small dogs and larger rope toys for larger dogs. You can buy giant rope toys for giant dogs, but they are also excellent for if you have more than 1 dog and those dogs like to share the same toys at the same time. Imagine 2 dogs face to face, playfully snarling at each other, while they are playing tug of war over a 6-inch rope. That scene would make you feel a lot calmer to watch if those dogs were tugging on a 10-foot rope, so it didn’t look like they could bite each other’s faces off at any moment, right?
If you want to go beyond the basics in the dog toy department you can. There are plenty of inventors who adore dogs, so there are a lot of awesome dog toys out there. You can find techy dog toys that bring technology fads like heart rate monitoring or selfies into your dog’s life. You can find toys to challenge your dog’s brain if you have chosen a breed that desires extra mental stimulation. You can get toys that automatically launch a tennis ball for you, so you can give your dog the gift of playing fetch with the utmost ease on your part. You can get agility training toys, or toys for training advanced retrieving techniques, or those sweet little canvas toys that people toss for their dogs who participate in pier jumping – you know, you have probably seen on tv where a dog jumps off a long runway into a pool of water while trying to fetch a toy in mid-air? There are dog toys for EVERY OCCASION. Indeed, there are so many options of dog toys that selecting the best dog toy for your dog has the potential to be overwhelming. But remember, you have your dog’s entire life to make this kind of purchase. When you are just starting off, a chew toy and a tennis ball are totally cool, as far as your dog is concerned. He’d be fine with all of your slippers, favorite shirts, and any small objects you have left on the floor too, but a chew toy and tennis ball sounds much less traumatic.
That covers the essential materials you will need or at least want to consider buying when you bring home your new puppy. If you have a collar, leash, food bowls, food, water, treats, and toys you should have everything you need for the day you welcome your dog into his forever home.
Things to Think About for Your Puppy’s Sake
In addition to materialistic things you should buy for your puppy before you bring a new dog into your home, there are other things you ought to do and think about.
Puppies eat everything that fits in their mouths.
You need to know that puppies will eat anything that fits in their mouths. It does not matter one bit if it is food or not. They cannot even discern whether food is food that is for them or is not for them. They are going to eat it.
To prevent your dog from causing harm to itself and from ruining your valuable or irreplaceable possessions you need to clean every area in your home that the puppy will have access too. Especially picking up the floors and underneath overhanging lips of low cabinet doors, under couches large enough for your puppy’s snout to fit under, under beds, and in closets or spaces you might not go, but might seem like fun places to a little dog.
Positively reinforce good behavior. Interrupt and redirect poor decisions to good ones.
If your puppy does destroy something of value to you remember he did not do it to make you upset. He is a dog and just does not understand the gravity of what he has done. Yelling at a dog only teaches a dog to fear you or not respect you. A dog that fears you is not the best friend you would hope your dog to be. It is better to be more petulant about supervising your pup. If you had had an eye on him when he first discovered your valuable possession – or you had cleaned up better before you brought your puppy home – the accident may not have happened or at least you would have been able to interrupt the unwanted behavior and correct it by redirecting your puppy to an acceptable activity.
Where will your puppy sleep at night?
Before you bring your puppy home, designate a safe space your dog can call its own and rest its head. In most aspects of their lives, dogs benefit from consistency and repetition. Sleep is no different. Often, your dog is going to want to sleep nearby you. It is natural for a dog to want to be near its person. Some dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in their beds, but most dog experts advise against that. It comes down to an Alpha/beta mentality. In a real wolf pack there are 2 alphas, so dogs have inherited this belief. The 2 alphas get to sleep on the good bed. The rest of the pack sleeps elsewhere. Put 2 and 2 together and you can see how if you allow your dog to sleep in the King and Queen’s bed all of the sudden the King and Queen are not quite as much royalty in the dog’s mind and they may start unconsciously disrespecting boundaries you have established. Snuggling with a dog is wonderful, but letting them sleep in your bed sends the wrong signals, so it is important for them to have their own designated area to rest their heads at night when the lights shut off.
Where will your puppy eat its meals?
As you know, you will be showing your puppy where he will be eating as soon as you get him in your home. Before he gets there it is important that you consider the place he will consider the doggy dinner table. Where will you put his food and water bowls? Dogs can be sloppy eaters. They can spill food and water. They tip bowls over and move them around. Sometimes they like to be alone while they eat or protected by being in a corner, so they will feel safe from anything sneaking up on them. Strategically positioning your dog’s food bowls in your home can become a sticky situation, especially if you are dealing with multiple dogs.
Choose a room in your home that has a washable floor. There are going to be spills and messes. Do not put a dog’s food on a floor that you cannot clean. You will get mad at your dog for reasons beyond his control and it does no good for any parties involved. Take action ahead of time to set you and your dog up for chow time success.
When will you be able to take your puppy to the bathroom?
All new puppies require housebreaking or potty training. If you have been through it before or ever been to someone’s home who allows their pets to urinate inside you understand that the lingering odor of ammonia is not a pleasant smell nor one you should be okay with having in your own home. In order to house train a puppy as quickly as possible you will need to be vigilant. Look at your day as it is now and schedule in regular times that you will commit yourself to bringing your puppy outside, so that your puppy will know that it is supposed to go potty outside and that it will have ample opportunity to do so.
Vigilantly house training a puppy means being aware of and staying on top of your puppy’s bowel movements. You know he needs to go and go often, but adding an entirely new puppy routine to your life can often make it easy to forget things that should be routine. Like taking a break from what you are doing to take your dog out on a leash, let it potty, and reward it for a success.
Having a potty training strategy that you can follow can be a big help. Scheduling potty breaks and making sure you, a friend, or family member is available to be responsible for taking your puppy to an appropriate location to potty is going hasten the process of housebreaking. If you do not allow your puppy to fail you can successfully turn your puppy into a potty training success story.
Where will your puppy go to the bathroom?
Hopefully, your puppy will go to the bathroom outside, but you should plan on having a place where you would like your puppy to go ahead of time. It could be your front yard, your backyard, the side of your home, or out in the woods. The point is that there should be a place that is OKAY for your puppy to go because there are definitely places that are not. You need to help your puppy understand both types of potty areas.
Can you provide regular meal times for your puppy?
It is a good idea to feed your puppy at the same times every day. He will enjoy and get accustomed to the routine and you will be able to better manage housebreaking. Puppies typically need 15-30 minutes after eating to digest before they are ready to go to the bathroom. During that time, crating your puppy can be an easy way to keep an eye on him, so no unnecessary accidents happen. Otherwise, keep your puppy constrained to a playpen or equivalently confined area for easier monitoring and scooping up to go outside.
Adult dogs typically eat twice a day. Puppies need to eat nearly twice as much. They need more food because they are growing and are more active than adult dogs. Active dogs burn more calories, so require more food intake to gain weight. Puppies require that extra food intake to grow anyway, so when you factor in all the energy most puppies have you end up with a dog that needs to eat 4-5 times a day. That is a lot of food! And involvement from you. And potty training after meal time.
Are you able to sufficiently exercise your puppy?
Dogs need exercise. It keeps them physically fit and prevents them from becoming overweight – looking at YOU, heavy treaters – but exercise also helps to calm a dog’s mind. No one likes a neurotic canine. Going for off-leash adventures or to dog parks where your dog can run is a great way to exercise your dog and let him burn some of that energy. If you are restricted to leash walking due to your geographical or municipality’s limited supply of dog activity outlets then it is up to you to be involved with the exercising. Are you physically able to walk up to 3 times a day for 15-60 minutes with your dog and do you even have a place you could do that?
Some dog breeds require more exercise than others. I hope that you chose a dog breed that fits your lifestyle. People who are couch loungers should shy away from dogs who need to run like Huskies. People who love to run marathons likewise should avoid lap dogs and teacup breeds. Dogs with short legs like walks too, but they are not able to keep up with you if you want to tether them to your waist and go for a bike ride. It is not difficult to determine if a dog is right for you or not, but not everyone takes time to stop and consider how the cute little ball of fur at the animal shelter, pet store, or online photo site is going to fit into their existing lives.
Can you afford the Vet bills for your puppy?
From the moment you get your dog, you will regularly be visiting the Vet’s office. Dogs need shots for this and pills for that ALL THE TIME. It is eye opening how big of a business the vet is once you are a part of the wheel. At least once a year you will be at your veterinarian’s office shelling out a few hundred dollars for Lyme prevention or heartworm medication. That does not even take into consideration if your dog has or develops an actual illness or medical issue. A hip disease is common in larger dogs. When the option is to pay a few hundred dollars or tell someone to put down your best friend for good, it is not really a decision at all. You pay the vet to save your pal. Unless you can’t. Will you be able to? Not all dog related medical problems are due to old age. Consistently, one of the top 3 reasons dogs are injured – or worse killed – is because of car accidents. Puppies are just as likely if not more likely to run out unknowingly into a busy street into oncoming traffic.
How will you train your puppy?
No dogs are born knowing how to sit, stay, fetch, lay down, and come. You have to teach them everything you would like them to know. How will you do it? There are many different training methods out there – although many are similar – but which training methodology will you choose to follow and institute with your dog?
Positive reinforcement training is an effective humane way to entice your dog into making the right decisions. With praise and lots of high-desirability treats, you can convince your dog to work for you. On their own, dogs will try to figure out what pattern of actions they did that earned them a reward. When you are training it is a good idea to reward with high-value treats when you are beginning to teach a new behavior. It is never good to over treat your dog, so eventually, you want to work towards reducing the size and amount of treats you reward your dog with for the action you are teaching until you can work all the way down to only praise, with the occasional treat. You do not want your dog to think he is not good enough for treats anymore. Keep him guessing as to how well or how many times he needs to repeat a behavior correctly when you are rewarding with treats and your dog is more likely to give earning those treats his best effort time after time.
Maintaining your dog’s energy levels can also help with training sessions. Some dogs train better when they are all hyped up. Some cannot focus unless they have been worn down with a walk or jog first. By observing your dog every day you can make assumptions about your dog’s energy levels and needs for achieving the best mental state of mind for listening and learning. As a quick tip, it is best to try training sessions before feeding your dog. If your puppy has just finished eating his meal it is less likely that he is going to want to eat more when you try to tempt him with a treat.
It is important to train your dog with treats, but also to work him off of the treats. You want your dog to learn, but you need your dog to listen whether he is hungry or not. Learning a command like down could save your dog’s life one day.
Will Your Puppy Travel With You?
Will your puppy travel with you? Do you travel? WIll you need to transport your puppy in a car, train, or airplane? There are situations and rules to consider for each scenario. Dogs are not often allowed in the passenger area of a plane or train. In some cases, you are required to crate your pet in a carrying crate of a particular size. If that is the case, consider the length of the trip and if your dog will be okay with limited or no food, water, and bathroom opportunities. If you are planning a long trip soon after bringing home a new dog you may want to reconsider one or the other.
What if your puppy gets lost?
Do you know where to look? Who to call? Make sure you have an emergency call list on-hand just in case. If you let the proper people know you are looking for your dog it will be much easier to reclaim your pup if someone other than yourself picks them up.
You can buy a GPS tracking collar for your dog for a few extra dollars. In an ideal world, every dog would have a GPS tracking collar. Then there would never be a lost dog. You can get one for under $100 and if that seems affordable then it is definitely worth the purchase. You will understand if your dog ever backs out of his collar, breaks through a screen door, zips out past your legs while you’re accepting a package, or otherwise escapes you. Dogs are not like runaway children. They do not always think to come home. They will chase squirrel after squirrel until they are so far away that all they can do is chase another squirrel. They would come home if they knew better, but they do not. Setting yourself up to be able to locate them quickly seems like a no-brainer.
Can you socialize your dog?
Puppies need friends. Going for dog walks and getting some exercise is great, but a dog does get a great deal of emotional enjoyment from socializing with other dogs. Visiting a local dog park or scheduling puppy play dates with friends who also own dogs are great ideas for introducing your dog to others. Joining local puppy classes or groups is another great way. You can check with local shelters or veterinarians offices, as well as searching the internet to find ones that are available near you.
How will you deal with teething?
Puppies bite stuff. They explore the world with their teeth. It is what they do. How will you deal with puppy teething? It is recommended that you interrupt unwanted biting and redirect to allowable biting, such as giving your puppy his chew toy in place of your slipper. Are you ready to keep a watchful eye on your puppy’s playtime, so he plays appropriately and doesn’t end up in puppy time-outs?
Have you picked out your flea prevention product?
Dog’s get fleas and fleas are the worst things you could ask to have in your home. It is even worse if you have a dog who jumps into your bed or sleeps on your furniture. The best way to avoid fleas in your home is to treat your dog with a flea prevention medication. These are usually a pill or liquid you can apply to your dog’s skin on a monthly basis. Keeping your dog flea free will keep you flea free and that should never be undervalued. Flea bites are itchy and fleas multiply rapidly.
If you find your dog, home, or self are infested with fleas you should clean immediately and thoroughly. Buy special flea shampoo for your dog. Get a flea bomb for your home. Search yourself and wash all over, making sure you kill and remove any fleas you find. Heat kills fleas, but the flea bombs, powders, and sprays you can buy give you extra protection from not only fleas, but the eggs the fleas have already laid in your bedding, floor cracks, and carpets. Eliminating all the problem points in one fell swoop is like cutting off the head of a snake. Once you are done you are done, but if you fail to get them all they will keep on living and multiplying until you do.
What are you going to do about shedding?
Most dogs have hair and those dogs shed. Dog hair does not care if you just cleaned your living room. Dog hair does not care if you are wearing black today. Dog hair flies off your dog’s back all day every day and sticks to everything it touches – clothes, couches, chairs, children, etc. Have you thought about how you are going to prevent shedding or deal with it once it does happen? Will you regularly take your puppy to the groomers?
How about bad dog odor smell in your home?
Sometimes dogs smell bad. Unless you are bathing your puppy with nice smelling perfume filled shampoo products multiple times a day there will undoubtedly be times when your dog will smell less than pleasant. You might know or you might not. He is probably still going to give you dog hugs, jump on your bed, lay on your couch, sit in your chair or otherwise sleep in your clean laundry like this. Are you prepared to deal with that? Have you checked out some pet odor reducers? Cars are not off limits either. Dogs make cars smell like dogs. If you are not rocking a leather interior I hope you are ready for heavily investing in air fresheners.
Did you know that dogs need their nails trimmed?
Dogs nails grow the same as yours. At some point, they get long and become uncomfortable for your dog and need to be trimmed. Not all dog enjoy having their feet touched or nails trimmed. Have you considered touching and playing with your puppy’s feet regularly from the very first time you bring him home, so he can become accustomed to being touched there? Consider if you are not going to be the one trimming your dog’s toenails then your dog will need to feel comfortable allowing a total stranger to touch one of the most sensitive areas on their body.
Will the climate you live in affect your dog’s health?
Climate conditions can have a big effect on a dog’s health. Dry climates, for example, can cause the skin on a dog’s nose and paws to try out, become chaffed, and crack. You may want to consider if you live in an area like this, so you can keep an eye on how your dog is doing and apply paw and snout care lotions as needed. Conversely, dogs who live in hot humid climates may need help cooling down. If you live in the desert or you know 90+ degrees is the norm then you should take into account that your dog will need help chilling out. There are products available designed to help dogs cool down if you find that you need them.
Do you have stairs in your home?
Puppies have short legs. Sometimes stairs are difficult. If you have stairs in your home consider keeping all of your dog’s gear on a single level of your house. Also, consider carrying your dog up and down the stairs as needed until he is a little bigger and can figure them out. Wooden stairs are sometimes difficult for dogs, as it is easy to visually miss a step and they tend to be extra slippery. Falling down a flight of stairs can seriously injure your dog, so consider putting up doggy (or baby) gates as a safety precaution at the tops and bottoms of your staircases.
What are you going to feed your dog?
You know where you’re going to feed him and what you’re going to put the food in, but what type of food are you going to serve your puppy? There are many to choose from. All dog foods list their ingredient lists on the back of their packaging. You should look at the ingredient list and make sure the ingredients that you are looking for are listed in the first 1-3 items, as those are the ingredients that make up the majority of the dog food. Better food will start with ingredients such as beef or chicken and not something like gooey fishmeal ground from intestinal tidbits.
Puppies benefit when you consider special dietary requirements. It is why you can go to your local grocery store and get food that is specially made for puppies. You should do that. You would not feed a child food that was made only for adults, right? Consider your puppy your short-term child – they grow much quicker!
Is your puppy’s breed nocturnal?
Some breeds are nocturnal. That means they naturally like to sleep all day and be awake at night. If you don’t work the 3rd shift it can be quite bothersome listening to your dog pace around your home while you are trying to fall asleep. You should always do a little research before choosing a new puppy, but if it’s too late at least you will be better off for knowing. It is always easier to make your dog’s natural instincts work for you rather than against you.
Is there anything else you should think about?
This is not a comprehensive list of things you should consider when buying a new dog. It is a long list of important things to think about, but there are definitely more things. Maybe not such important things, but definitely more. Every dog is different. Some dogs will present unique situations and circumstances for their owners. Some dogs may be your average everyday canine. You never know ahead of time, but you always love them all the time. Every dog’s life matters.