Updated: Apr 3
Getting a puppy is a great adventure for the whole family and its easy to get caught up in all the excitement. But there are challenges every new pooch owner will entail.
There are many things to consider before giving a puppy a new home. There is equipment you will need such as bed, food bowls, toys, lead, crate, suitable restraint for the car etc.
You will need to register with a vet , I would advise taking your new prize possession for a full check up as soon as possible to check its nice and healthy. Often your pup will not have had vaccinations which will need started along with worming and flea treatment.
Insurance is an incredibly important consideration when getting a new pup, They can not only get poorly but accidents do happen especially with cheeky pups. Third party cover is an important consideration incase your puppy causes an accident. There are many different policies ranging greatly in price. I am not going to advise on a particular company but I would advise a policy that has 'life time cover' for each condition. Also be aware if your pet needs veterinary treatment, surgery, or even referral this can be very expensive, quickly spiralling to thousands of pounds at times so consider this when picking a policy. Click here for more info on pet insurance.
Decide if you have time, space and the lifestyle for a puppy. They can be a lot of work and need a lot of attention. Getting a puppy is no good if you will be out at work all day and the puppy left for hours. This can lead to socialisation problems and destructive behaviour.
Will your puppy be crate trainied?? I have personally always found crate training great. It gives the puppy a bed where they feel safe, where they can go and have their own space. Crates can be very useful for toilet training as they do not like to use the bathroom near their bed. The crate can be closed at night so you know the pup is not up to mischief and getting to any harm, Food and water bowls can be left in there.
It should be used as a positive den for your pup, not a place of punishment.
If a dog is crate trained it makes any visits to the vets where they need to stay in the kennels much less stressful. If they are used to a crate, a kennel isn't much different so we usually find the dogs that are crate trained are much more relaxed when in with us.
Puppy proofing your home is important as the new family member will be exploring everything. Certain items should be removed from potential destruction and some things should be moved for the puppy's safety. They like to chew, especially when teething, this can be your new pair of shoes, electrical cables.... mine took a notion to chewing the wall for a few weeks, they are not picky what they destroy!!
First few weeks
So the day you have so desperately been waiting for has finally arrived. It's time to pick up your new puppy. This is me picking up my puppy Millie 14 years ago!!
The first day in a new home can be very exciting but also quite daunting for a pup. They will be leaving their mum and siblings to go to a new home full of different smells, people and layout.
Their initial day should be very relaxed and positive, let them explore their surroundings and give them space if needed. Some pups will be incredibly confident but others may hide and be timid until they have adjusted. It can be a good idea to take an item of bedding from the breeders house that has the smell of the mother dog on as this can comfort the potentially anxious pup. You can install plug-in diffusers that emit pheromones that relax the pup. These also come in collar versions.
Set boundaries and routine from day one so the puppy knows what it is and is not allowed. Training takes a lot of time and repetition is key so don't expect miracles in the first few days.
Socialisation is incredibly important in the first 20 weeks of age. This is when they are learning how it is acceptable to behave and taking in all the new experiences like car travel, noises, smells and other animals so if your pup is not fully vaccinated when you get it, its a good idea to take them places and carry them so they can experiences a variety of environments from a young age. Puppies learn a lot from other dogs so puppy training and mixing with other puppy safe, vaccinated dogs is a great idea.
Puppies are intelligent wee things and need mental stimulation. Toys are an important part of puppyhood. Chew toys can help with teething and minimise chewing, there are activity toys to use when feeding and my pup always had a soft spot for a cuddly toy.
Puppies have a sensitive digestive tract so you should continue feeding the same food the breeder has been using for at least for the first week. You can then gradually introduce your puppy food of preference, gradually mixing it in with their original food over about 5 days. It is best not to use too many treats at the off set as this can cause diarrhoea. Choosing a good quality dog food is really important in the future development of your puppy.
A food I highly recommend is Royal Canin (click for link). I have always fed this to my pets and been extremely happy with it. It is available in slightly different variations depending on if your pup is a small, medium or large breed. It is very important that large breed puppies get food designed specifically for their growth and development.
Toilet training is easy for some and not so for others. In my experience the smaller toy breeds can be a bit harder to toilet train such as the Italian greyhound. It won't happen over night and the worst thing to do is scold the puppy if it has an accident. Every morning let the pup out straight away, their bladders are very small so it will likely be crossing its legs! The younger the pup the more frequently they need out. Always let the pup out immediately after eating as this often stimulates them to need a poo. It can be helpful to introduce a phrase you use each time that the dog associates with going to the bathroom, this eventually means the dog should go to toilet on command. A treat after toileting in the correct place is helpful- always use positive rewards and never tell the pup off.
In the initial few weeks a puppy pad by the back door can be helpful incase there is an accident.
So getting a puppy is an exciting time, will give you a fantastic companion and many years of enjoyment. Think long and hard before making the commitment and make sure you are well prepared as many owners are unaware of the responsibility, cost and challenges that come with owning a dog.