Preparing for man’s best friend
We can spend months preparing for the arrival of a new baby, though many of us will happily take a puppy on a whim without considering that they are a baby of their own kind. Puppies also require preparation and specific care, so if you have already carefully thought about getting your own ‘man’s best friend’ (or even if it is already too late for that!), consider these pointers and make a puppy essentials shopping list!
Making your puppy comfortable
As with humans, bringing a puppy into a new environment can be unsettling so it is important that they feel comfortable. You should prepare a designated ‘puppy area’ in advance, making sure that it is clean and all breakable and chewable items have been removed.
Should I buy a dog crate or cage?
Although some people are not keen on the idea, buying a dog crate or cage is a great way to facilitate your puppy’s house training, but also to keep them comfortable. It is important that your puppy has somewhere that they can call ‘home’ within your home and go to as a sort of refuge if they feel scared or simply want a nap without any disturbance. A cage can also help to keep mess in one place, particularly if you have to leave the house for a long period of time during the day – puppies left to their own devices can be a nightmare!
When choosing your cage, make sure that you take your puppy’s growth into consideration. Your puppy may look tiny in their huge cage at first, but that will soon change!
Food and drink
Once your puppy is comfortable, you will of course have to feed it (especially since they are so energetic). As a first step, make sure that you have 2 clean bowls: one for water and one for food. As for the food, try and find out what your puppy was fed by their previous career or owner and stick to it. Changing a puppy’s diet too quickly can upset their delicate tummies.
Changing your puppy’s diet
If you would like to change their food, do it gradually by mixing the old food with the new one. When choosing a new food for your puppy, make sure that you read the labels. As with human food, it is not always clear what is actually in the packet. It may say ‘chicken’ though this is not always clear if it is real chicken or simply chicken flavour. If you are not keen on buying dog food, you can always try to make your own!
Wet Vs Dry dog food
If your puppy or dog does not drink enough water, it is advisable to choose wet dog food because it has higher moisture content. The down side however is this it is messy, has a stronger smell and has needs to be consumed once opened. Dry dog food however has a much longer shelf life, therefore is less likely to spoil and can be more economical.
All of that running around will eventually make your puppy quite scruffy and potentially very dirty too! You will need to purchase brushes and dog shampoo that are specifically adapted to your puppy. Some breeds have thicker fur and therefore need a sturdier brush to detangle their fur. The same applies to shampoo: make sure that you consider your dog’s skin type as some breeds have dryer skin than others.
You will also need to think about applying a flea treatment every month using either a solution or a tablet that you can hide in their food. Some dogs have a condition called Flea Allergy Dermatitis where one flea bite can cause a nasty reaction. Others will have sores, itchiness and scaly skin, so make sure that you prevent these problems with a simple flea treatment.
Some dogs dislike the grooming experience; however you can avoid this from the early days. Give your puppy a treat when grooming them and they will quickly associate being brushed and washed as being a positive experience.
Keep your house in 1 piece
When you bring your puppy home, you will have to accept that there will be some damage to your home, however the amount of damage can be minimised with certain rules.
Give them toys
Puppies often chew on coffee table legs and sofa cushions because they are teething and they need something to get relieve their pain! You can help this by buying durable toys for your puppy. Make sure that the toy is suitable for chewing and choose several different textures such as hard chewy toys and soft toys so they don’t get bored. Toys will need to be replaced often and they easily get destroyed, so consider this before purchasing the expensive, cute version.
Keep your puppy in one room
If you are worried about your puppy making a mess in too many rooms, consider buying a dog gate or even a baby gate. This will help you to keep your puppy from making too much mess in too many places and it can also provide you with a moment of peace when you just want to watch the TV quietly.
Keeping your puppy in one area can also help with training because he or she will be triggered to do his business in the same place as previous ‘accidents’. Let’s face it, accidents will happen, but we can keep them in the same place.
Whether you want your puppy to sit on the sofa with you or not is your choice, but make sure that you set rules early on. Another important point is to make sure that everyone in the household understands and has the same rules.
The same applies for commands: make a list of commands and stick it on the refrigerator. Making sure that everyone is using the same command for the same action will help to avoid confusion for your puppy and facilitate training.
Don’t lose your puppy!
Once your puppy has had the necessary vaccinations and has been cleared by the vet, you will be able to take him or her outside for the best bit – walkies! To get your puppy used to the outdoors, you will need a lead that is strong enough to withstand their weight. Velcro straps may come undone when your puppy’s curiosity gets the best of them and they go to explore somewhere new, taking their lead with them! It is therefore advisable to buy a sturdy lead, in materials such as leather if necessary.
On the off chance that your puppy does escape, make sure that you have a collar with an ID tag so that anyone who finds him can easily contact you and reunite you both.
Sounds like a lot of hard work? Well it is! Adopting or buying a puppy is a big responsibility that you should only take if you truly understand what you are doing and that it is a decision for the duration of the dog’s life.