First Time Puppy? Know What to Expect and Prepare
From the endless cuteness to the scent of diarrhea, be ready for some loving memories.
Your life is about to change. Get ready for it.
Photo by Dan Visan
1. The commitment
I assume you have passed this stage, but one last reminder doesn’t hurt. Millions of dogs end up on the streets because their people didn’t take them seriously enough.
Dogs demand daily care.
They require that we are involved with them daily. They need proper training, playtime, outdoor enrichment, socialization, physical exercise, and mental stimulation.
Deprived dogs are unhappy dogs. Unhappy dogs develop problematic behaviors. Problematic dogs are dumped. Most dogs are not happy with 20 minutes walks around the block. You must walk your dog twice a day, one hour each walk, for the next 10-15 years.
Take a moment to realize how life-changing this is.
If you can’t imagine finding the space and time for a dog’s needs, skip the whole idea of bringing one in. Take this lightly, and you’ll find yourself in a very unpleasant situation.
Having that settled, let’s see what do you need to do if you expect your first puppy soon. Keep in mind that these are the essentials that your new dog will need when he/she comes in. As you move forward, you will know better than any one else what’s best to do for you and your dog.
2. Create a safe space
Your puppy will miss the safety of his/her mother’s breast and the fun with the siblings. Think about it. One day they are happy and unbothered at home and the next day they wake up in an entirely different place with people they don’t know. Their baby minds are shocked.
Here is the solution:
- Be there. What you’ve got to do is fill the void with your gentle presence until your puppy becomes used to their new environment. Make sure you are there for your new dog. Loneliness will only make it worse for him or her. You don’t want your dog’s first impression of the new home to be anything else than positive. Ideally, take some time off, dedicated to make them feel comfortable.
- Keep it down. Say no to visitors for a few days. Avoid excessive noise. Provide a few quiet, fun and cozy first days with some good food and toys. Avoid anything that gives a puppy extra pressure.
- Talk to your kids. Kids should be well-informed about the new dog and everything that this involves. Kids and puppies can be too much for each other, instruct them how to behave
- Prepare your home for a puppy. Very soon, the shock will subside and their mischievous playfulness will come through. Puppy playfulness can be harmful to them and frustrating for us if not supervised. Hide electrical cords, toxic material, socks, books. If constant supervision is not possible then restrict your puppy when you are away. Trainers recommend crates. I don’t, but I can’t deny that I have seen them do good.
3. Set the rules and stick to them
Your puppy will have to know early on that living with you comes with rules. Restrictions are good for a dog as long as they enjoy freedoms too.
So, before you bring the puppy home, talk with the rest of the house members about what is allowed and what is not: Can the dog be on the couch or not? Which rooms will be open for the dog? What are the feeding times? (At least three times a day for a young puppy.) Where is the dog’s personal space going to be? Who will be in charge and of what? What vocabulary do we all use?
Then train. A soon as your puppy feels like home, start the training. This way, puppies learn to understand that they are not the center of the world and that cooperation is needed. They learn that your voice matters.
And perhaps the most important piece of advice for today, do not fall for the easy path of dominance. That’s lazy. Be the leader your dog will want to look up to for guidance. Have you heard about positive reinforcement? That’s the way to go.
4. Expect mess
Your puppy will most probably cause a cute mess. She/he has little sense of what boundaries are yet. Playfulness and curiosity can get puppies very mischievous.
If you expect a puppy, expect a mess.
Pretty much everything that exists signals playtime. Your puppy will likely want to pull your sheets, chew on your nightstand, rip up your cushions, ‘read’ your books, see what’s in the fireplace, or wrestle with your plants. What’s more, there is no right time and place for puppies to pee, they just pee. Keep your mop at hand and don’t shout. You are going to make it worse.
Shouting at a newly brought-in puppy is a bad idea. You need a strong basis of trust and love before you show that you can be tougher.
Instead, train, take precaution, and puppy-proof your house. For your dog’s safety, the longevity of your belongings, and the sake of your nervous system.
5. Get the essentials
There is a lot of advice online about what you should get for your puppy, and most of it includes a lot of money for unnecessary items. For example you don’t need to buy a puppy blanket. If you are able to stay warm at home, your puppy will have no problems with cold. If you find your puppy feeling cold you will work it out better that buying an overpriced puppy blanket from the pet store. For example, give them an old sweater.
If tomorrow is the day your new dog comes home get these:
- Food. I searched the whole internet about this before I got my first dog. If you ask 20 experts you will likely get 20 different answers. What is good food for my dog might be less good for yours. A suitable diet (raw/dry/cooked meals) for my dog can be detrimental (I have seen it) for yours. I went from a super premium dog food to a less premium one and it sat better with my dog. So, don’t fall right away for the grain-free, super holistic, human-grade, organic, best food in the market. You might have to change a brand or two before you find the one. One is for sure, your new dog will need good food soon after they come in. This will warm their heart.
- A nice bed. Give your dog some personal space. A bed, a corner that will be theirs. You don’t need to buy those overpriced beds for dogs. Be creative. Find old pillows and cushions and create a cozy corner. Old cushions are a better start if you expect a puppy that likes to rip up fluffy stuff and pees everywhere.
- 2 Bowls. For food and water.
- Toys. Puppies are either asleep or playful. Since we can’t constantly be there to play with them, they need some interesting and fun toys to keep them busy. Chewing toys are the best.
- Harness and leash. Don’t spend much here because your dog(s) will need new equipment as they grow bigger.
After a few days and nights, your dog will be feeling like home. They won’t be missing their siblings or their mom. They will have you.
Now is a good time for your first visit to the vet.