Bringing home a new pet is an exciting time for any family, but one that comes with challenges, too. Here's 10 tips to lend a paw - from the transition home to keeping your new best friend happy and healthy for years to come.
1. Research your pet's breed
This is one of the most important things you can do before you bring home a new family member. Know the breed characteristics of the puppy you are thinking about getting (and that breed's associated hereditary risks) so that you know what to expect down the road. They may be small now, but will they grow to be 100+ pounds? Is it a breed that needs a lot of outdoor space? Will they require regular grooming?
This is a little harder to do if you are adopting a mixed breed dog from your local shelter, but don’t let this discourage you! Often, the shelter employees will be able to tell you the breed and background of the pup and help you find a pet that fits your family lifestyle.
2. Teach your children how to interact with a puppy
If you have children at home, a puppy can be rambunctious and may nip your kids during play times, just like he would if he were playing with his litter mates. Teaching your children how to pick up, handle, and play with a puppy will avoid potentially harmful situations (for both the child and the pup!).
3. Buy a crate to train your new puppy
Crate training is a great way to help your dog adjust to a new home - especially if there are going to be times in the future when you have to leave the house to go to work.
You can also purchase baby or puppy gates to create a safe environment in which to raise your new addition. Puppies are naturally curious and will want to explore all areas of the house. Putting up gates to block off “forbidden” or dangerous areas early will teach the pup where he can and cannot venture.
4. Buy chew toys
Everyone knows that puppies LOVE to chew, but it is important to encourage them to chew on the proper things. If you catch your pup chewing on your favorite pair of shoes or the leg of your antique chair, sternly tell him “No” and give him something appropriate to chew.
5. Buy a leash and collar
Your puppy will not naturally know how to walk on a leash, but luckily, you can train them quite easily. Allow for some supervised time each day to wear his collar and leash so that he can get used to how it feels when you head out for your daily walks. If he keeps pulling on his leash, try a training collar. Avoid retractable leashes especially for younger pets still learning the ropes.
6.Buy ID tags and consider getting your puppy microchipped
Tags with your address and phone number will be invaluable if your puppy wanders from home. For added peace of mind, get your new puppy microchipped. Unlike tags, they won’t ever get lost and will increase the chances of bringing your best friend home. Just make sure to keep the information updated.
7. Plan to bring your puppy home when you’ll have extra time to spend with him if possible
Holiday weekends or the start of vacation time are perfect opportunities to bond with the new member of your family – provided you’re not hosting the holiday party at your place.
8. Plan for lost sleep, especially during the first week
Your new puppy has been through a lot, and he may be nervous to be without his mom and litter mates overnight. Having a new puppy is a lot like having a new baby--plan to be awakened several times during the night.
9. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian within 48 hours to get your new puppy checked out
Your vet will check for any congenital abnormalities and can answer any questions you have about how to care for your puppy. They can also help you better understand the importance of protecting your new puppy with dog insurance.
10. Learn how to raise a puppy BEFORE you bring him home
House training, crate training, and behavior training do not come naturally to puppies and will be a learning process for both of you. Do your best to know what to expect from your puppy during his early life with you.
Raising a puppy is hard work, but by putting in an extra effort in his early years, you will be rewarded with a well behaved, healthy adult dog to keep you company for years to come.
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