4 Things to Know Before Getting a Puppy
Getting a puppy can be very exciting. You're adding a new fur baby to your home that will bring loads of joy, adventures, and cherished memories. But you need to do some preparation beyond just asking yourself, "Should I get a dog?" The things to know before getting a puppy include deciding if you should get a puppy or an adult dog, choosing the right breed, learning how to puppy-proof your home, and putting together a complete "new puppy checklist" that includes all the basic supplies.
1. Decide If You Should Get a Puppy or an Adult Dog
Your first decision is whether you should get a puppy or an adult dog. Puppies are adorable, but they take work too. They won't be immediately house trained or know basic commands like sit and stay—that's all up to you. They need lots of attention, exercise, and patience when they chew on something or make a mess. But they're well worth it.
Adult dogs tend to be calmer (depending on the breed) and need less oversight. Some are already trained. Of course, you also don't know about their past, so you may need to help them unlearn some bad habits. There are pros and cons to both puppies and adult dogs.
2. Pick Your Breed
You'll need to do some research to find the breed that's right for you.1 Even if you choose a mixed breed, you may want to know something about his parents' breeds and background. Some breeds grow large and some stay small. Some need a lot of exercise, some can be rebellious, some are better with kids and cats than others, and some are quiet. Sometimes you can try out a home visit first or even foster puppies before you adopt.
3. Puppy-Proof Your Home
Just like you baby-proof a home, you'll want to do the same before you bring your puppy home. Puppy-proofing includes making sure there aren't any unsafe plants, medicines, or foods that might make your puppy sick. Watch out for cabinets, cords, or even purses that your puppy might get into.2 Put up puppy gates if there are any stairs or unsafe areas where your dog might get hurt.
Don't forget to puppy-proof your back yard too. Make sure there aren't any little holes in the fence where your pup can escape. You might even want to set up a smaller enclosed area within the yard rather than giving him access to the whole space.
4. Complete Your New Puppy Checklist
Now that you've decided what breed (or mixed breed) you prefer and your home is puppy-proofed, it's time to go through your "new puppy checklist." You'll want all of these on hand to help your pup feel right at home.
- A crate: Some puppies feel safer having a crate they can go to for a little quiet and security. A crate will also keep your puppy safe when you can't supervise him. You might also want to include a crate pad for comfort. Remember, crate training can take some time.
- Puppy food: Even if you already have an adult dog, you can't feed your puppy the same food. They need puppy food formulated for their little growing bodies. If you can, find out what he's already eating and change it gradually so his tummy's not upset.3 And don't forget to get some treats for when he's a good boy.
- Toys, toys toys: Puppies like to play and chew! Make sure your treasure trove of toys include puppy pacifiers for when she's teething. Get a ball for playing fetch. You can even get a puppy chew toy starter pack.
- The basics: Don't forget the basics like a leash, collar, food and water bowls, a comfy dog bed, and grooming supplies like a brush and comb.
- A veterinarian: Who's your vet going to be? You'll need to get vaccines and set up a spay or neuter appointment down the line.
- Patience: You'll need to house train your pup, which might include a few messes along the way. A good dose of patience is very helpful. Obedience classes might be fun too. Puppy play dates are also great because these can help socialize your puppy.
- A sense of adventure: Your puppy is experiencing a lot of firsts in his life. So be excited about experiencing them with him! Go for car rides, walks, trips to the park, and play games in your own back yard.
Getting a new puppy is exciting, but it's even more fun when you're prepared. Follow this new puppy checklist, and you'll be right on track for welcoming your new fur baby.
- Eley, Amy and Wickwire, Emily. "6 Things I Wish I knew Before Getting a Dog." Today, 21 March 2017, https://www.today.com/series/things-i-wish-i-knew/adopting-dog-what-know-t109481.
- Heuer, Victoria. "10 Things to Consider Before Bringing a New Pet Home." PetMD.com, https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_multi_10_things_consider_before_pet_adoption.
- WebMD. "Bringing Home a New Puppy." Pets.Webmd.com, https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/bringing-home-new-puppy#1.