Tis the season for presents and love, and puppies certainly make it on Santa's list.
Bringing home a new puppy can be exciting, but can also be intimidating for first-time pet owners. If you've made the decision to welcome a new family member and are nervous, DON'T BE!
Look no further, we have put together our top tips for getting a new puppy and welcoming them home.
Decide Where to Get Your Puppy
Congratulations! You've made the decision to add a new member to the family, but you're wondering where to get your puppy from. We recommend to either adopt from a shelter or to get your puppy from a reputable breeder. Each one has its pros and cons, so we summed up some things to consider with each option.
Adopting from a Shelter
Many dogs end up in shelters all over the world. They end up there for several reasons, but it doesn't mean they deserve to stay there forever. In fact, most of the time, dogs end up at a shelter is not their fault.
We recommend adopting a dog as your first option. You would be saving a life and might save some money in the process. Visit your local shelter to visit the dogs and ask questions about the adoption process.
Buying from a breeder
Adopting a dog may not always be the best option, especially if you are looking for a specific breed. Welcoming home a new puppy allows you to start from the beginning, and train them according to your lifestyle. Here are some tips if you choose to get your puppy from a breeder:
Research Reputable Breeders
When buying from a breeder, you must do your research before you pick a breeder. Look at the breeder's history, reviews, and only buy from reputable breeders that demonstrate genuine love towards their puppies.
Beware of Puppy Mills
Puppy mills are breeders or facilities that put profit above all. Dogs that come from puppy mills are usually kept in poor living conditions and are not given proper medical attention. Not to mention, dog moms are often over-bred. This could lead to puppies that are often sick, have birth defects, and potential behavioral issues.
Meet the Puppy's Parents
Meeting the puppy's parents is a crucial factor in choosing your puppy. Often time only the mother will be on site but always request to meet both parents if possible. This will allow you to evaluate their temperament and health concerns.
Deciding where to get your new puppy from can be a tough decision. Look at the pros and cons of each option and decide based on what works best for you and your family. Also, be cautious of buying from puppy mills.
Prepare your family members
Bringing home a puppy is a lifelong commitment. Everyone in your family must have a mutual understanding of the responsibilities and care involved with adding a new member to the family.
Dogs require time, love, and attention. Ensure you have a sit down with your family to create a plan to prepare and maintain the dog, discuss a schedule, financial aspects, etc.
Topics to Discuss With Family
- What will be the feeding and walking schedule
- Who is responsible for feeding and walking the dog
- Who will be responsible for taking the dog to the vet
A dog is a big responsibility, everyone in the family needs to be on the same page and understand the importance of your new family member.
Puppy Proof Your Home
It is crucial for the safety of your dog to puppy proof your home BEFORE you bring home your new pup.
Puppies are curious, energetic, and can sneak their tiny noses into everything. Especially during the holidays, a house full of treats, decorations, and presents. You want to be well prepared before you bring home the puppy so you can focus all your efforts on spending time with your new baby once you bring them home.
Puppy-proofing is very similar to baby proofing. Here are some things to consider:
- Cover any sharp edges and electrical outlets
- Gate any unsupervised areas
- Secure any hazardous products
- Remove any items you don't want to be chewed…..like shoes
- If you have a backyard, make sure there are no escape routes
These items are essential because it keeps your puppy from getting into unsupervised areas, getting injured, and eating something they're not supposed to.
Puppy proofing your home will not only keep your dog safe and out of danger, but also helps to establish boundaries and obedience.
Go Shopping for Your Dog
To ease the introduction of your new family member, you should have the following essential items on hand:
Collar and Leash
Every breed is different, they all have their unique jobs in nature. For example, some are herding dogs, some are hunting dogs, and others are sledding dogs.
Choosing the right collar and leash is important because it can help train your dog to walk on a leash properly.
We don't recommend extendable leashes as they're a safety risk and can teach your new dog bad behavior.
If you need help picking the right collar, check our post How to Choose the Right Collar for Your Dog.
Food and Bowl
I think we can all agree that a full belly equals happiness. Well, the same goes for your dog!
Find out what food your dog was eating at the shelter or with the breeder and purchase a small bag. You don't want to change your dog's diet immediately. Instead, ease it out by mixing it with the new food over two weeks. Every food brand has its own specifications to transition, make sure you read those guidelines on the package.
As for your bowl, any regular dish should do. If your dog is a fast eater, consider getting a slow feeder or puzzle bowl. It helps your dog eat slower by working around the puzzle to get food instead of gulping it all down.
A crate is one of the most essential items to house train your dog. It helps you to potty train and teaches your dog to be independent.
A crate should never be used to punish your dog. Instead, it should be a safe haven (dog den) where your dog feels comfortable.
Every little change is a stressful experience for puppies.
It's no mystery that dogs love treats. Having treats when you first welcome your puppy helps create a positive environment for them.
It also allows for easier training through positive reinforcement.
It is an easier transition for your puppy and yourself if you are prepared with the essential supplies before you bring the dog home.
Take your New Puppy to the Veterinarian
When you get a new puppy, you always want to make sure you take them to the veterinarian within the first 48 hours.
Whether you are adopting or buying from a breeder, you want to check your puppy's overall health with a professional.
Here are some common topics to bring up and discuss during your first veterinarian appointment:
- Current vaccinations
- Full-body inspection
- Fecal exam
- If your puppy is not eating or looks nostalgic, ask for a good calorie booster
- Thoughts on neutering or spaying
Taking your puppy to the vet helps avoid any health surprises.
Start training your new dog ASAP
Having a well-mannered puppy is something that comes with a lot of hard work and dedication. The earlier you start training your puppy, the faster you will create a routine between yourselves. Here are some things to consider when you begin to train your puppy:
Establish a routine for your puppy
Dogs are creatures of habit. When you create a consistent schedule, they'll have a better sense of their good behavior.
Enroll your Dog in a Puppy Training Course
If you want to fast track your dog's obedience, we recommend enrolling them in a group dog training program as soon as your puppy is 10 weeks old.
In a training program, you will learn from a professional how to teach your dog basic obedience and address behavior issues at an early stage.
Here are some things you can expect your puppy to learn in a basic obedience course:
- Potty training
- Basic hand commands
- Leash walking
- Safety commands
Training your dog is a long journey and requires a lot of patience. If done the right way, you will reap the rewards for many years to come, so make sure you start as soon as possible.
Training classes are an important step in establishing good behavior and obedience at an early age. The sooner you start, the better!
Socialize your Dog
Socializing your dog at an early age is important as it helps them become more friendly and build confidence in their adulthood. Ideally, a puppy's socialization should begin immediately, the right time to socialize your dog is between 2 to 4 months of age.
Interaction and experiences in puppyhood are critical; you should aim to make each initial socialization a positive one.
Here are the top ways to socialize your dog:
Walking allows your puppy to be introduced to new scents, environment, noise, and people. This exposure at a young age helps your dog to become more comfortable and avoids anxiety. Scheduled walks also help build good behavior and establish a routine.
Having People Over
Your new fur baby is sure to attract some new visitors to the house, and that is alright. Interacting with new people is a great way to start the socialization process for your pup. But make sure to follow your dog's lead, don't overwhelm the dog.
Dog parks are a great way to make new friends, exercise, and expand your pup's curiosity. However, dog parks also pose a risk of interacting with unvaccinated dogs and not having professional supervision if a situation arises.
Make sure always to be alert and mindful of rough players.
Enroll in a Dog Daycare
Enrolling your dog in a reputable dog daycare is one of the best ways to diversify your pup's socialization skills.
A doggie daycare allows your dog to interact and play with other dogs while under the supervision of a trained professional. It is a perfect solution to worry-free socialization, as all dogs in daycare have the appropriate vaccinations, and have been pre-assessed for any behavioral issues.
Most daycares require up to date Bordetella, DAPP, and Rabies vaccinations. If your puppy is under four months old, you are only required the second round of vaccinations. These vaccinations include hepatitis, distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and coronavirus given in a combination as one vaccine.
Take Your Dog to the Groomer
Taking your puppy to a professional groomer at an early age helps to create a positive experience for your dog. Start off with a simple puppy trim, this helps your puppy to be familiarized with the concept of grooming without being overwhelmed.
Do not groom your dog at home. This can cause stress, possible infections, injuries, and a simple mistake that can traumatize your puppy. This will make it very difficult for your dog to be accepted into a professional groomer in the future. So don't hesitate to contact your local dog grooming experts and schedule your appointment.
Socializing your dog plays a huge role in making your dog friendly with people, kids, and other dogs. It also helps with anxiety. The earlier you start the better
Overall, adding a four-legged member to your family is a wonderful decision and taking the necessary measures mentioned can really help ease the transition.
If you live in the New Jersey area, make sure to check out Puppy University for your dog's grooming, training, and daycare needs.