This week I got to be part of a fantastic adoption day event put on by Saving Great Animals. They had rescued Cherry, a pit mix that they were told was spayed. However, as time went on the poor girl seemed to be getting sick. A trip to the vet indicated, not illness, but pregnancy. A great foster jumped in, took care Cherry through her pregnancy, and helped raise NINE pups, even when Cherry decided she could no longer nurse the little ones when they were about 4 weeks old. Wow, that is dedication.
So, this weekend, the new puppy parents all showed up to take home their new bundles of joy. 7 of 9 already have homes. I got to talk to many of the adopters about steps to take to make sure they got off on the right paw with their little guy or gal. All new dogs bring joy to a home, but puppies especially bring happiness into a house. But, these tiny additions can also bring some HUGE challenges. So I thought I would write a bit on getting ready for a puppy. Now, there could be books written on the subject,(Wait, there are! Countless books on how to raise your puppy.) so this is not the definitive “how-to” on getting a pup. I do hope it gives a few interesting bits of information for those getting a puppy or in the first stages after already getting one. Remember, there will be times, when you feel like you got the only BAD puppy in the world. You didn’t. And you are not alone in feeling that way. Again, puppies can be a handful and very difficult at times. But you are not alone. There is help. If you are having some tough times, don;t hesitate to look for help. Contact the rescue or shelter where you adopted the dog, contact a trainer, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and get help. Better to act now than to have a dog that develops habits or behaviors that make you hate him later.
So you’re getting a puppy.
There are few moments as joyful as when you bring home your new puppy. There are also few that can be as trying, so be sure you get off on the right paw.
First, puppyproof your home.
- Check to see if you have any houseplants that are known to be toxic to dogs; if you do, either replace them or put them somewhere where your puppy either can’t reach them or pull them down from the place you’ve put them.
Some of the more common poisonous plants are azalea, lilies, ivy and begonias.
- Electrical cords can prove fatal if they are chewed – run any visible cables under the carpet, tidy up and conceal surplus wire behind furniture where possible and consider using plastic cable covers or plastic tubing to cover any exposed cables.
- Small objects left lying around look like chew toys to puppies and can cause all sorts of problems such as choking, poisoning and intestinal blockages – children’s toys, sewing kits, yarn, pencils, pens, even the remote control are all items you need to be aware of and tidy away.
- Many medications, alcohol, tobacco and some human foods can be toxic to dogs. Keep medicines and cleaning products shut away in cupboards or on high shelves. Ensure food and tobacco products (cigarettes, tobacco, nicotine patches and gum) are also well out of reach. Do not underestimate your puppy’s ability to jump up and take things off low tables and shelves
- Trash cans look like a buffet to a pup but they are another potential hazard. Either put them in a cupboard or buy a strong, tight-fitting lid.
- Get down on the floor and look around from your puppy’s point of view. What stands out to you? What looks like it could be trouble? Remember, his view of the world looks a lot different that yours.
Start training immediately.
It used to be “common knowledge” that you should wait until your pup was about 6 or 7 months before beginning training, but research shows puppies are learning at their maximum potential between 4 and 12 weeks of age.
Start teaching them how you want them to behave right away, but make it fun and exciting. (As if everything isn’t exciting to a puppy.) Sit, down, come, find are all easy lessons to teach and to learn and will lay a foundation for much of the more “serious” training that should come down the road.
Housetraining is very obviously a high priority. Take him out often and watch for signals that mean he needs to go.
Look for puppy classes or play groups and get into them as soon as they are eligible. Be sure to talk to the trainer first to make sure his or her ideas about how a dog should be trained and treated are in line with your own. The social skills he learns now will be with him for life.
Finally, Remember that this is just a puppy and with that will come a few mistakes. Be patient in EVERYTHING.
New puppy checklist
__ Crate/bedding (get something easily washable)
__ Puppy Food
__ Nature’s Miracle or other enzyme cleaner. (Accidents will happen)
__Food and Water Dishes
__Collar and ID tags
__Brush and nail trimmers (get him used to grooming as soon as possible)
__ Paperwork(vaccinations, history, vet check, adoption form, etc.)
You are about to embark on a fantastic adventure. The puppy you take home today will become a part of your family and a part of your life. Enjoy.