Expanding your Pack
BY SAM BALZANO
A puppy can be a paw-some new addition to your family – as long as you are properly prepared. Puppy prep can be extensive and exhausting, but setting your new family member up for success can make a world of a difference. Our newest addition, Blue, has taught us more than we could have imagined and I can’t wait to help you prep for success with your new furry family member. A puppy is a huge financial and time commitment, so before you pick a pup make sure you are capable of committing to them for their whole life and pick a breed that will fit well with your lifestyle. Make sure you look into the exact requirements of tending to the breed you chose to make sure that you are giving them everything they could need.
Do Your Research
Once you have made the decision, the real first step in preparing for your new puppy is to research where you are getting your puppy from. Forced breeding and puppy mills are not only damaging to the mom and dad dogs, but they frequently lead to health and behavioral issues in puppies. Be sure that your pup is getting the absolute best care in their first 8 weeks before they come home to you and your family. A new puppy should not be separated from their litter or mom for at least 8 weeks after they are born, so make sure that this rule is being followed before you commit to a pup.
There are a lot of supplies you are going to need to have ready as soon as your new puppy comes home. This is part of the reason you need to be financially prepared to get a new puppy as these costs can rack up, especially in the beginning. Essential puppy supplies are:
- You will 100% need a crate for your new puppy, and I recommend getting one that allows you to adjust the size of the crate as well. This will allow your crate to ‘grow’ with your fast-growing puppy without having to revisit this cost down the line. This will help with adjusting to sleep and potty schedules, as puppies will avoid relieving themselves where they sleep.
- Collar and Leash
- Getting your puppy acclimated to a leash and collar as early as possible will make teaching them commands, and overall respect, a much easier task. Even if you have a safe place for your dog to be off-leash it is still important to get them used to wearing a leash and a collar. Be sure to always remove your puppy’s collar before they are put in their crate or playpen, or during any unsupervised playtime.
- Bowls and Food
- Find out from your breeder or shelter the kind of food your puppy has been fed thus far and start feeding them the same food. You can transition your dog to a new kind of food, but this is not recommended until they have acclimated to your home for a week or two. Puppies can get very excited during feeding time so it is best practice to buy bowls that will not slide on the ground during meals.
- This is a personal recommendation to have in your home, but I truly feel like it makes a huge difference for our pup. He has his own space to play safely and unsupervised inside, which is essential in letting us continue to work and function on a day-to-day basis. This allows us to let him play and nap throughout the day without having to have eyes on him 24/7 and keeps us from having to crate him during the day. This designates his crate for nighttime sleeping and has helped him develop a proper sleeping schedule at night.
- Cleaning Supplies
- Stock your house with paper towels, disinfectants, pee pads, and poop bags – you will be needing a lot of these! Your puppy does not develop full bladder control until around four months old, so be patient, as they are trying their best too.
- Make sure to have different toys available for your new pup. Stuffed animals can serve to provide a lot of comfort for your small pup, and teething toys are essential in those first few weeks. Designating what is appropriate to play with and bite early on can save you a lot of trouble as your pup gets older and more adventurous.
Puppies are rambunctious and are constantly searching for something new to teeth on or to get your attention with, get on their level! Literally, crawl on your hands and knees around your house to get the perspective your pup will have. Make sure to cover outlets, tape down cables, hide food, and move anything valuable or dangerous to a higher shelf. Your puppy is still bound to find something to chew on that they shouldn’t, but by taking these precautions you can avoid any serious damage to your puppy or your stuff.
Make a Schedule
One of the most important things to remember with your new puppy is that you are in charge. This means you need to make a schedule for your pup to set them up for long-term success. Schedule potty breaks around feedings, and make sure to include training and play as well to keep your pup well rounded and sleeping properly. Every dog is different, so make sure to communicate with the shelter or breeder about what their schedule looks like before you bring them home. Be prepared to also wake up once or twice a night to take your pup to the potty during the first few weeks, as they do not have much bladder control at this age. If an accident happens, which it will, it is important not to blame your puppy, but instead to make sure you are paying attention to signs that your dog needs to relieve themselves and to take them out frequently in the correct place. Puppies learn very quickly, so keeping to a schedule and reinforcing good behaviors with treats and love will help you leave the accidents behind very quickly.
Find a Vet
Before you even bring your new puppy home you should find a veterinarian that you trust and get your dog on the schedule for their first appointment. Recommendations vary, but your pup will likely need vaccinations around 10-11 weeks old, and the vet you want to use may have a waitlist. Make sure to get them on the schedule and always have a contact you can call in case of questions or emergencies.
The number one thing to remember when your new puppy comes home is to give them love and patience. Accidents and mistakes are bound to happen, and everything definitely isn’t going to go as planned, but as long as you continue to work with your pup they will follow suit and become a good dog as they grow up.
Pro Tip: If you already have a dog at home make sure to prepare them for the new puppy as well. Try to get your current pup used to the scent of the puppy and make sure to do a slow introduction to allow both dogs to get used to each other. Let your dog smell the puppy through a crate or playpen before allowing nose-to-nose introduction can help avoid overwhelming either dog. This is a huge change for them too, so extra love and positive reinforcement is going to be best for your dog’s success.