So it's that time in your life where you are considering getting your first puppy. not one your parents got for you, not one your roommates had, but one of your very own. However, on paper adopting a puppy just seems so simple, but in practice there is just a bit more to it. In fact, just going out and getting a puppy can be a big hassle, but with a little preparation, it can go smoothly for both human and dog.
So what are some good preparations to make before you find that puppy of your dreams?
Create an Area for the Puppy
A dog needs to have a place of its own; somewhere they can go to relax and not have to deal with people. They don't need a whole room all to themselves, but rather just a space where they can be confined. When they are still puppies, this should be an area where they can still have sight of their owners, but out of the way of them as well. Place a playpen in the kitchen or place their crate in the den facing your desk. This allows for a limited area to explore and a limited area to clean up if they have an accident. It is best to sort out where this will be before your bring them home so you can set it up.
Puppy Proof Your House
If you are going to let your puppy wander a bit, even if it has gotten older, you still should puppy-proof the house before you bring them home. This means removing wires off the floor, cleaning their area well, securing the breakables, ect. Basically anything you don't want scratched, chewed or peed on, you should get it out of the potential puppy reach.
For items that just sort of naturally end up on the floor like shoes or the edges of furniture, spray an anti-biting spray on there. Spray that stuff liberally on table legs, shoes, dressers, couch edges, and everything below the knee. You'll be better off for it. Of course, owners should also invest in plenty of bones and toys for them to chew on as well.
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Be Anticipatory with Puppy Toys
A lot of first time puppy owners make the mistake that they should buy toys after they get their puppy. Puppies don't tend to have a whole lot of preference to what sort of toys they get. Owners should get a decent stock of toys and bones before they get their puppy so that they do not have to go out later to do so. Be sure to stock up on small toys and bones that a puppy can easily chew. Squeaky toys will keep them pretty busy, providing they are not scared of them and a good rope toy will entertain most. This is also a good time to pick up some treats so that owners can begin training. It may be a decent idea to get a few small sample of several different kinds, I've had pups that just despise certain kinds.
Select the Correct Size Crate with Bedding
For those that know exactly what breed of dog they want, then picking out a crate beforehand is easy. However, for those who have no idea, being pre-emptive with the crate is a bit harder. However, as long as you can decide on a particular size of dog you want, it is fairly easy. If you want a large dog, pick an extra large dog crate. For those that want a small dog, get a medium size dog crate. It is always best to go up a size, especially if you intend on that being your dog's sleeping spot when they are adults. Picking a size up will allow the adult dog to be able to stretch and turn around when they are fully grown.
For those that don't want to crate train their dog, having at least a puppy playpen will save you from a major hassle. Keeping a puppy confined when you can't watch them protects all your stuff.
For either crate or playpen, owners will want to get some nice soft bedding. This can mean a doggy sleeping pad or a bunch of nice blankets. Just something more comfortable than floor that they can curl up on. Try not to wash them too terribly frequently as your dog is comforted by their own scent.
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Buy Food and Water Bowls
This part slips a lot of minds, but your pup will need a place to eat and drink. The food and water bowls don't need to be the same size, as the puppy will likely end up drinking more than they eat as they grow so some may find it easier to get a bigger water bowl. However, owners should remember to change dog water once a day even if it is not empty. Neither human nor animal deserve to drink crappy stagnant water.
Get A Leash and Collar
While it is best to bring your first puppy home in a crate, within a few hours of getting them to your house, they will need to go outside to relieve themselves. For most places, unless you have a nice backyard, you will need to have your pooch on a collar and leash. Puppy collars are pretty easy to find and size, though you will likely only be using it for a short while, they outgrow them quickly. However, a puppy collar and a 2 - 4 foot leash will be a good starter set. This short leash will be excellent for leash training, once your puppy begins to understand that you're in charge while walking them, you can invest in a longer one.
Due Your Dog Food Research
Some people don't care about what their dog is eating in their food, but others are a little more choosey. Some commercial dog foods have been touted for having less than healthy ingredients, basically with little nutrients that dogs actually need, so people are steering away from them. For those that want to take better care of their dog, they need to do their dog food research to find what suits their moral needs. Do you want to go organic? Raw? Should you make your own dog food? Those are all questions new owners need to tackle. It is just a matter of getting recommendations from trusted sources (your vet, animal experts, ASPCA officials, ect) and reading labels to see what is really inside.
Regardless of what you decide to feed your puppy, you need to find the puppy formula for it. Most breeders will tell you what they fed your puppy so you can buy the same food too. Your puppy will have enough change in their life, so keeping the food they are used to, at least for awhile, will help ease their stress. Most people wait until they can switch from puppy chow to actual dog food before changing to their brand. For those that want to change sooner, mix their usual puppy chow in with the new stuff just to ease the transition.
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What to Do Shortly After Getting Your Puppy
Above are all the preparations to do before getting that new pup, but even after getting one there is work to be done.
Find A Veterinarian
You'll need one. Finding a vet isn't too terribly hard, it is mostly a decision between traditional and holistic or just finding one that you like. Most puppies these days come already fixed and with their first round of shots. However, they will need more shots as well as flea, tick and heart worm services fairly soon.
Register Your Pet with the City
Most cities require you to register your pet with them as well as register that they have their rabies shot. It will cost a fee, but most cities allow for it to be done completely online these days. Getting caught without these tags will result in a fine, but the tags are useful if the pet is lost.