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Preparing for a new puppy

The essentials

  • Getting a puppy is both a rewarding and challenging journey — Putting in the prep work for your new pup can make your first year as a pet parent go much smoother.
  • Know your “why” when it comes to getting a puppy — Reflecting on your reasons for getting a puppy is a good idea to help set realistic expectations and prepare you for the commitment.
  • Patience is the key to pet parenting — From potty accidents to training mishaps, being a puppy owner requires a lot of patience and consistency, especially in the early weeks.
6 Phases of Getting a Puppy

So, you want to get a puppy?

If you’re thinking about welcoming a puppy into your home, get ready for a delightful adventure! The journey from the initial spark of wanting a furry friend to surviving that whirlwind first year is an exciting time of new experiences, joy, surprises, and, of course, a fair share of chewed shoes. It starts with the dreamy phase of researching breeds, picturing playdates in the park, and imagining cozy cuddles on the couch.

Next comes the excitement of puppy-proofing your house, shopping for the tiniest chew toys, and eagerly awaiting your new arrival. Then comes the first year, filled with adorable puppy antics, those “oh no, what have you done” moments, and the triumphs of successful potty training.

It’s a journey of love, laughter, and a few sleepless nights, but ask any puppy parent, and they’ll tell you: the cuddles, the wet nose kisses, and the tail wags make every moment worth it.

Why do you want a puppy?

Before you welcome your new puppy home, one of the most important steps is to think about the “why?” when it comes to welcoming a new dog. What is the reason you want to get a puppy? Do you want a family dog to grow up with your kids? Do you live alone and want a buddy? Do your friends all have dogs? Do you have some emotional ties to dogs?

Looking inward to figure out why you want a puppy can ensure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. The truth is that puppies are cute — and it can be very tempting to fall for those fluffy faces and wagging tails without fully considering the long-term commitment. However, understanding your motivations helps set realistic expectations as a dog owner and ensures you’re ready for the responsibilities and hard work that come with raising a young puppy.

Whether it’s the desire for companionship, the joy of watching your family grow with a furry member, or a connection to dogs that tugs at your heartstrings, knowing your “why” lays the foundation for a fulfilling journey into pet parenthood. So, before you succumb to the cuteness overload, take a moment to reflect on the deeper reasons behind your decision, and get ready to embark on a rewarding adventure with your new canine confidant.

Things to consider when preparing for a puppy

Once you’ve determined why you want a puppy, it’s time to think about some logistics. Here are some things to consider before you sign those puppy adoption or purchase papers:

  • Budget. Owning a puppy comes with various expenses, including dog food, grooming, veterinary care, and the right supplies. Creating a realistic pet budget helps you understand the financial commitment required to provide the best care for your new furry friend.
  • Pet insurance. While not a must-have, pet insurance can be a lifesaver in emergencies and unexpected situations. It helps cover veterinary bills, ensuring your puppy receives the necessary care without putting a strain on your finances.
  • Time. Puppies demand time and attention, especially during their early months. Consider your daily schedule and commitments to ensure you have ample time for a training plan, playtime, and bonding with your new companion.
  • Type of dog. The type of dog you choose plays a crucial role in your puppy parenting journey. Consider factors such as breed, age, size, and health history. Different breeds have varying exercise needs, temperaments, and grooming requirements, so choose one that aligns with your lifestyle.
  • Space. Assess your living environment and whether it provides enough space for your chosen dog breed. Some breeds thrive in smaller spaces, while others require more room to roam. Ensure your home, as well as other family members, accommodates your puppy’s size and energy level for a happy and healthy coexistence.

👉 A puppy’s first year can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, so make sure your piggy bank is stocked before Fido comes home.

Shelter vs. breeder

Do you want to adopt a puppy from a local shelter or rescue, or do you have a specific breed in mind and want to go through a reputable breeder? When it comes to bringing a new furry friend into your life, deciding between a shelter pup and a breeder’s selection is like choosing between two wonderful paths. Adopting from a local shelter or rescue not only gives a loving home to a pup in need but also offers you the chance to be a superhero in their story. These dogs often come with unique backgrounds, diverse personalities, and an overflowing reservoir of gratitude.

On the flip side, if you have your heart set on a specific breed and love the idea of raising a puppy from the very beginning, a reputable breeder could be the best fit for you. This option ensures that you’re getting a dog with a known health history and characteristics tailored to the breed. Whichever path you choose, the good news is you’ll be embarking on a journey filled with wagging tails, wet-nose kisses, and a lifetime of unconditional love.

Puppy preparation

Putting in the prep work before you bring home your puppy will go a long way in ensuring your four-legged friend is set up for success. To ensure your pup’s safety, the first step is to puppy-proof your living space. Think of this process as baby-proofing with a furry twist!

Secure loose cords, tuck away tempting (and potentially toxic) items, get rid of any toxic plants, and create boundaries and safe spaces using dog gates and barriers to manage where Fido can go. You’ll also want to have a designated quiet place with a comfy dog bed and a proper size dog crate for crate training your new young pup.

Next, you’ll need to stock up on puppy essentials. Here is a list of things that can make puppy prep go much smoother:

  • Nutritious puppy food
  • Food and water bowls
  • Puppy pads for potty training
  • A leash, collar, and ID tag
  • Plenty of toys (especially teething toys)
  • Grooming supplies, like a gentle brush and puppy-safe shampoo

Lastly, make sure to consider any of your puppy’s unique needs when creating that all-important new puppy checklist.

👉Keep windows and doors secure and locked to prevent puppy escapes.

Your new puppy’s first day home

When your pup finally arrives at their new home, get ready for a symphony of excitement and curiosity as they explore their new surroundings. You’ll want to start potty training right away. Choose a spot in your yard or use a pee pad indoors and reward your pup when they do their business there. Accidents will happen, especially in those early days, but an important part of the process is patience.

From day one, it’s also important to establish a routine that works for both you and your new puppy, covering everything from mealtimes and potty breaks to energizing walks and play sessions. This is when you’ll also want to introduce your pooch to the whole family, including any other pets who might be sharing the spotlight, plus any small children or human babies who might need a refresher on the rules regarding pets. It’s a day filled with plenty of amazing moments and so much fun, from that adorable puppy nuzzle to the pitter-patter of tiny paws exploring their new kingdom.

Establish a veterinarian relationship

It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of responsible pet ownership — the vet. Do your due diligence, research, and find a reliable local veterinarian for your pup. Get that vaccine schedule organized and make sure your puppy’s first exam is on the books. When you’re at the clinic, cut through the fluff and have a serious chat with the vet about practical matters, including potential pet insurance for your pup and any first-year necessities you should know.

Once they’re fully vaccinated, you can start creating a plan to get them properly socialized. Ultimately, It’s important to maintain a good relationship with your dog’s vet, because they play a crucial role in your pup’s health and happiness.

Surviving the first year as a puppy parent

Making it through the first year with your new furry companion requires a mix of diligence and resilience. Here are some tips for your first year:

  • Health visits. Keep a keen eye on your puppy’s health — regular vet visits aren’t just a one-time thing. Your vet can help determine the best check-up schedule for your pup.
  • Training. Start obedience training and socialization as early as you can. Consistent training ensures good manners, and introducing your furry friend to different people, places, and animals creates a calm and friendly companion.
  • Patience. There will be challenges, and it’s important to have boundless patience. Reach out to fellow pet parents and professionals when you need encouragement and guidance.

Surviving the first year is a journey, not a sprint. Buckle up, stay resilient, and enjoy the wild and wonderful ride of puppyhood.

Frequently asked questions

What age do puppies come home?

Puppies typically come home at around 8 weeks of age. This is a crucial time for their social development, and it allows them to adjust to their new environment while still benefiting from maternal care up to that point.

What’s the best way to potty train a puppy?

Consistency is key in potty training. Establish a routine for feeding, play, and bathroom breaks. Supervise your puppy closely, reward them for outdoor success, and be patient during inevitable indoor accidents. Positive reinforcement and a regular schedule make a world of difference.

How much does a puppy cost in the first year?

The cost of a puppy’s first year varies but typically includes initial veterinary expenses, vaccinations, food, grooming supplies, and basic training tools. On average, you might be looking at a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, depending on factors like breed, size, and individual needs.

Should I get a puppy or an adult dog?

The choice between a puppy and an adult dog depends on your lifestyle and preferences. Puppies demand time, patience, and consistent training, but offer the chance to shape their habits from the start. Adult dogs may require less hands-on training and may be a better fit for those with busier schedules. Consider your ability to meet the specific needs and energy levels of each.