So you’ve decided to adopt a furry friend. Whether you’ve decided to buy a puppy from a breeder or adopt one from the animal shelter, there isn’t that big of a difference in the realities of puppy ownership. Puppies are not so different from human babies, in that they require a good bit of time, effort, and money; but ultimately, they’re completely worth it. With that being said, you’ll want to give your puppy the best possible chance it has to develop into a happy and healthy adult dog. Your puppy won’t be able to advocate for itself with words, after all. That is going to take some research on your part.
With that being said, let’s look into some of the things you can do to ensure that your home (and your family) is ready for your new pet. The more you prepare for a puppy, the smoother transition will be.
1. Contact a Vet
Ideally, your puppy will come to your home in perfect health, with some of its vaccines already administered, and perhaps even its spay or neuter already done. But even a puppy that is in great health and fully ready to go to their new home still needs to see a vet on a regular basis. As you prepare for a puppy, it will likely become apparent to you that puppies grow very quickly, and like growing human children, they need to have checkups a bit more frequently during their first year or so of life. A big reason why you need to have a vet ready before you even bring your puppy home, however, has nothing to do with your puppy’s immediate health. It has everything to do with how in demand good veterinarians are.
A good veterinarian will have dozens of people trying to get onto their client list, and only so many spots available. Before your puppy comes home, narrow down which veterinary practice is ideal for your puppy, in terms of convenience and reviews. Additionally, get an idea of how many veterinarians are on staff at that practice. Call the practice directly with preference of doctor, but some flexibility. Most practices have multiple vets available who treat dogs. You may not be able to get your first choice of vet; but the sooner you reach out to the practice, the more likely you will be to succeed.
2. Know What’s Happening When You’re Away
At a certain age, a lot of adult dogs are able to stay at home alone when their owners are away or at work. However, this is not always the case for every dog; some owners prefer to have someone watching their dogs at all times. Additionally, young puppies cannot be left at home alone for an extended period of time. While you should begin crate training your puppy from a young age, puppies under six months old shouldn’t be left in their crates for more than three or four hours at a time. If you’re lucky enough to work at home or have someone in your family who can watch your puppy at all times when you’re gone, then this won’t be an issue. Most of us need to come up with solutions for this problem as we prepare for a puppy, however.
Just like veterinarians, those that off quality pet care are in high demand. Therefore, you’ll want to get your foot in the door before your puppy comes home. There are two main options to consider. You could look into having your puppy cared for by a pet sitter. Most people find pet sitters through word of mouth in their community, or perhaps through pet sitting apps like Rover. Either way, you’ll want to interview any potential pet sitter thoroughly before making a commitment. It’s important to ensure that your puppy is being cared for by someone who is experienced and enthusiastic, and someone you can trust your puppy to be around. Of course, most pet sitters cannot necessarily devote as much time as a puppy would need; they more often offer their services for those with adult dogs. So another option you may want to consider is doggy daycare. Many doggy daycare centers are connected to or partnered with vet practices, so you could get a referral there. A quality doggy daycare will have great employees, as well as clean and fun facilities. The last thing you want is for your puppy to stay cooped up in a kennel all day; so consider doggy daycare centers carefully. With that being said, keep in mind that many doggy daycare centers will not accept puppies until they are fully vaccinated, so you may have to figure out alternative plans for the few months after your puppy arrives.
3. Search for Obedience Classes
Although the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks may not be exactly true, it is true that it’s easier to train a puppy than it is to train an adult dog. As you prepare for a puppy, think about what would make life with your puppy easier, not just on them but on you. The last thing you want is for your nice wood floors to be damaged because it takes months for you to housebreak your dog. But housebreaking isn’t the only type of training your puppy will need. If your dog knows even basic obedience, he or she will be much easier for you to manage. Every dog should know how to sit and stay, come to their owner on command, and certainly stop barking. That last ‘trick’ will definitely come in hand when your house is being visited by people your puppy doesn’t yet know!
As always, there is a good bit of demand for these services, so you should have your puppy preemptively enrolled in obedience classes. Most puppy classes begin with very basic commands. You’ll want to curve these classes around your schedule, as they’re typically as much for you as a dog owner as they are for your puppy. You need to learn how to be authoritative with your puppy, without scaring them. Many people find puppy classes fun and helpful, and even make friends through them. Plus, if you’d like for your puppy to learn more, you can enroll them in further classes.
4. Prepare Your Yard
Not all puppies have the benefit of a big backyard to run around in, and not all puppies need them. Some dogs are perfectly content to have daily walks, and otherwise live in something as small as an apartment. Other dogs need a yard to run around in, and if you have a yard, you should be prepared for your puppy to take over it as they grow up. But this doesn’t mean that you can simply let your dog loose in your yard without any preparation or modifications. For one thing, you’ll want to make sure that you have your yard puppy-proofed, ensuring that there aren’t any holes for them to fall into or toxic plants for them to eat. For another thing, if your yard isn’t fenced, you may want to begin speaking with fence contractors.
There are a lot of issues that come with keeping a dog in a yard without a fence. It’s becoming less advised that dogs, and certainly puppies, are kept on leads or chains in yards without fences. For one thing, the dog can hurt themselves, becoming distressed and tangled up in their leads. For another, they are left defenseless if another dog is to wander into the yard. Most dogs also become anxious if they are left tied up in the backyard. It’s better for them to be able to run around in a safe, fenced-in yard. You may want to consider a wood fence, as some dogs learn how to climb over a chain link fence.
5. Prepare Your House
No matter how ready your house is to welcome a puppy, there will still be some level of puppy proofing that you’ll need to do in advance. For example, you’ll want to make sure that areas that you want to prohibit your puppy from entering are sectioned off with a baby gate. Additionally, you may want to cover your furniture until your puppy is fully housebroken and trained to stay off of your chairs and couches. Puppies may not intend to make a mess, but they’re inherently a little messy, even after they’re housebroken. As you prepare for a puppy, you need to keep this in mind and be ready for some level of frustration. On that level, be ready to invest in some pet stain remover. There are also more specialized products that you need to consider as a peter owner; you may want to buy a spray that will deter your puppy from having an accident in a specific area. If your puppy has a longer or more high maintenance coat, consider investing in a vacuum that will pick up dog hair more easily.
Of course, you may also have to make bigger changes to your home in advance of getting a puppy. As you prepare for a puppy, you may notice issues in your house that could use some updating. Now is the time to get in touch with plumbers, for example, if your house currently has water damage or leaks. Trust us when we say that any problems that exist in your house will probably be sniffed out by your puppy. For that same reason, you should discuss any exposed wires that your house may have with an electrical contractor. Puppies have a knack for getting in trouble, and therefore the more prepared and ready your home is, the better.
6. Identify Dog Friendly Places
Before you even begin planning for your puppy, you need to have some basic things out of the way. If you rent, you’ll want to make sure that dogs are allowed by your landlord. If you live in an area with an HOA, you need to make sure that you prepare for a puppy in a way that is compliant with their rules and regulations. But you’ll also want to make sure that you’re preparing for your puppy on a broader scale, ensuring that they will have places to go out and about in your community. This is especially important when you consider how crucial it is for puppies to be socialized from a young age. It’s one thing to have a dog that barks when people approach your house, to back up your alarm systems. It’s another matter entirely to have an aggressive dog.
Many towns and cities in the United States are actually becoming more dog friendly over time, with many restaurants and stores allowing dogs where they once did not. You should also identify dog parks in your area, and as you prepare for a puppy, get ready to get the licensing necessary for your puppy to visit those parks. However, you should make sure that your puppy is fully vaccinated, and a little bigger before they begin to interact with adult dogs, all of which should be in the same size range as your dog. Look for areas in which you can walk your puppy. Not only will they make friends; you probably will, as well!
As you prepare for a puppy, it’s normal to get a little overwhelmed at points. Puppies are big responsibilities, especially in the beginning. But as they grow up, you’ll quickly realize that dogs are the best possible companions you can have, and that they’ll never let you down. Whether you had to discuss the purchase of an expensive puppy with your accountant before putting down a deposit, or you’re adopting a mixed breed puppy from the shelter, the results are the same. You can get a lot out of owning a puppy; you just need to prepare for a puppy properly.