In celebration of National Puppy Day on March 23rd, we would like to share some helpful tips on getting a puppy. Getting a puppy is a big commitment and can be a lot of work but is also very rewarding.
Once household discussions have established that everyone wants a dog of a certain age and breed, where to get the pup-from a shelter or reputable breeder is more or less determined, the primary caretaker of the pup should be identified.
Take some time with the family to establish some rules. Will the puppy be allowed on the couch, in certain rooms, etc? Will puppy classes be in his future or will you be home training him? Basic puppy classes can serve as a great learning experience for him but mostly for you. If you have small children, you may need to have a discussion about when, where and who can hold him. For example: You can only hold the puppy if you’re sitting on the floor. This will help to prevent the puppy from taking any tumbles while being held or carried by the little ones.
The area that the puppy will spend most of his time for the first few months will need to be puppy-proofed. This includes moving any loose electrical wires, household chemical, plants, rugs, and breakables. Once you think you've completely puppy-proofed, lie on the floor and look around again to get a puppy's eye view.
Setting up a cozy crate with the door open in the area where he’ll be is ideal. This will be his safe place and can go in there as he pleases. The puppy can be trained to go into the kennel at night as well.
Find a veterinarian that you know and trust. Puppies need vaccines and examinations every 3 weeks until they are about 17 weeks of age. Your vet will also likely run multiple fecal tests throughout these visits to check for common but dangerous intestinal parasites. You will need to decide if he/she will be spayed or neutered. It is in your pet’s best interest to be spayed or neutered. Ask us at what age we recommend performing the surgery, as it differs with some breeds.
Don’t take your puppy out and about until he is fully vaccinated. It’s important to get through the entire puppy vaccine series before exposing him to potentially contaminated areas such as dog parks, pet stores, etc.
When you pick up your pup, remember to ask what diet he was fed. We will also help you pick an appropriate diet for your puppy. When starting a new food, gradually change the food by mixing some of the old with the new, gradually increasing the amount of the new food. This change should take about 3-4 days and will help to prevent gastric upset.
Consistency is very important. Plan your schedule for feeding, pottying, naps, and play. From Day One, your pup will need family time and brief periods of alone time. Solitude may be new to him, so he may bark, whine or howl. Don't give in and comfort him or you may create a monster. If you reinforce the behavior by giving attention, he will quickly learn “If I make a fuss and make noise, they come play with me.” Give him attention for good behavior, such as chewing on a toy or resting quietly.
A new puppy is truly one of life's joys. Preparations and a well-planned first 24 hours can give your new family member a great start.