So you added a new furry member to the family this Christmas! Congratulations! Getting a puppy is super exciting! They are cute, cuddly and extremely entertaining. Three years ago I rescued my dog King around Christmas time. It was wonderful, but there are a few things I wish I would have known first. He was somewhat of an ‘impulse buy’, and some things I was not ready for. It’s all fun and playtime at first; however, while they are just the *cutest little fur babies everrrr* (said in a baby talk voice)-they are a HUGE responsibly and there are steps to take early on to ensure an easier life for you and your new puppy.
- Health. Make sure your puppy is up to date on their shots/heart worm/flea medications. An appointment with your local veterinarian is crucial when you first get your puppy so you can make sure they are in tip top shape. This is also a time to decide if they will be ‘fixed’. Heads up- many puppies will have worms in their poop at some point. It’s disgusting. Don’t freak out, just go get the medication necessary. Here is a quick checklist of what to do.
- Training. Proper training FROM THE BEGINNING is the only way to get your puppy with you, and not against you. Puppy training schools are becoming more popular, or just a simple search on Google for puppy training tips can point you in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to be the boss! Your puppy will test your limits, just like a toddler- be strong!
- Puppy pals. I personally think it’s a good idea to get your puppy interacting with other dogs/puppies early on. This way they won’t be as aggressive towards ‘dog strangers’ as they grow up. Dog parks are a fun (and sometimes free) way to let your puppy get some energy out while learning to be social, not scared. This site can help you search for a park near you.
- Exercise. This one can be fun. Puppies have A LOT of energy, and they will use it one way or another. If you’re smart, you will give them an energy outlet. This could be daily walks, jogs, toys to play with, a large yard to play fetch, or even the dog park. If you don’t give your puppy a way to use their energy, they will find it themselves. It could be chewing your shoes, digging the carpet, gnawing on your doors or walls…if you give them a healthy way to stay active, you both will be much happier.
- Attention. Although I know puppies are not the same as babies, there are a few general concepts that apply to both. One of the big ones is attention. Puppies need A LOT of attention (as if potty training isn’t enough…) If you are going to have a super long day at work one day, try a puppy daycare! Or maybe you have a friend that can watch your fur baby while you are busy! If you neglect your puppy, not only will they get into trouble (making messes on your lovely carpet, chewing through those super expensive shoes you got for Christmas, the list goes on…), but they could actually go into a puppy depression. Keep them busy and you both will be happier.
- Money. Pets cost money. If you consider this from the beginning, it won’t be as frustrating later on. Remember that it is probably more expensive when you first get your puppy though. At first, there is vet bills to get all the vaccines and medicines necessary, puppy training costs if you decide to go that route, buying a bed, toys, kennel, food, bowls, leash, soaps…it can add up fast! Think of it as a puppy-start-up cost. But remember to keep on top of year checkups and keep up for vaccines. This costs money, but it’s worth it to have a healthy growing puppy.
- Lastly, the puppy stage. Having a puppy can be wonderfully challenging at times. It’s very easy to forget that they won’t be a puppy forever! My dog King is 3 years old, and he has only recently started to evolve into an adult dog. While it can be frustrating, they will grow older and learn how to behave. Again, kinda like kids! Only you don’t have to wait 25 years for a dog to become smart…. ☺️
Bringing a puppy into the family is such a fun stage. This is the puppy that will be with you for years: greeting you after work, cuddling with you after a long day, and put a smile on your face when it seems like the world is dark. Appreciate them for the innocent and loving creatures they are, and don’t eat the yellow snow!
(If you have not gotten a dog yet, but are thinking about it, click here to compare different breeds, and find out what will work best for you!)