- Puppy Gear
There are some basic supplies that all new puppy owners should have on hand: quality puppy food, a 6-foot cotton leash, an adjustable collar, food and water bowls, easily washable towels or blankets for bedding, poop bags, and some dog toys. Traditional Kong toys are great for stuffing with peanut butter and keeping a little one busy. A crate is also recommended as a safe place for the puppy to be when they can’t be attended, as well as a great housebreaking training tool.
- Clear your Calendar
When you first bring home the puppy, it’s great if you can plan to be home, spending time getting the puppy use to his or her new environment and bonding with you. Ideally you work up to leaving the puppy for short periods of time, gradually extending the time up to 3-4 hours over the course of a new days or a week. Remember, puppies can’t hold it very long in the beginning, so having someone available to let the puppy out regularly is important. A general rule of thumb is to not expect puppies to be able to hold it more than 1 hour per month in age, so at 8 weeks, the maximum a puppy should have to wait is 2 hours.
- Puppy Proof your Home
Look around and move or pick up anything that could be a potential danger for curious puppies; things such as electrical cords, poisonous plants and small items that could be easily swallowed. Now is also the time to put away shoes, socks and children’s toys. Put them in a closet with a door, or up out of puppy’s reach.
- Make Rules
Both puppies and dogs in general, thrive on consistency and pattern. Think about the dog your puppy will become and what you want that dog to do or not do. For example, will you allow your dog to get on the furniture. It’s much easier to prevent a bad habit than to break one that has already taken hold. This is also a good time to have a family meeting and make sure everyone knows the rules for the puppy and is in agreement. It’s very hard on the puppy if one family member allows something and another family member doesn’t.
- Be Patient
It’s easy to get frustrated when you think your puppy should understand more quickly than they seem to be. Like people, puppies learn at different rates, but a keep in mind that it can take 30-50 consistent repetitions before a dog understands a command.
- Introduce Other Family Pets in a Neutral Area
If you already have a dog, it’s best if the new puppy and existing dog can first meet outside, ideally in a neutral area such as a park. Go for a walk together and then go inside the house. This will allow the dogs to get to know each other a bit and reduce territorial concerns for the existing dog. When introducing an existing family cat to a new puppy, let the cat investigate, while keeping the puppy on leash or behind a gate. Both older dogs and cats need to be able to have a place they can go to get away from the puppy when they need a break or a little down time.
- Go to the Vet
Ask around to get input on the veterinarians in your area and visit them in advance to find one you are comfortable with. Soon after getting your puppy, take them to be looked at by the vet to make sure they are healthy and up to date on their vaccinations. Take cookies and make the experience as positive as possible for your puppy. If the vet you choose does not offer 24 hour emergency service, find out who to call in case of emergency and where the nearest 24 hour clinic is located.
- Identification and Registration
All puppies and dogs should have your contact information on their collar – include the dog’s name, your name, and a phone number or two. In addition to your own phone number, consider putting that of your veterinarian, or a trusted friend. Microchipping can be a good option as well. Some towns require a dog to be licensed, so make sure you know the regulations in your community.
- Enroll in a Puppy Class
Look for a puppy kindergarten or socialization class in your area. This is a good way to learn some basic training skills, as well as to give your puppy the opportunity to experience being in the company of different kinds of dogs and people during the puppy’s key developmental phase.
- Ask for Help
Having a new puppy can be overwhelming at times, even if you’ve had dogs before, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Talking to other people who are either going through a similar experience, or have done it in the past, can be both helpful and comforting. Here are some resources to consider: Seek out other puppy parents to share stories and ideas. Visit your local owner-operated pet supply store; usually these store owners are in the business because they care about pets and are happy to lend an ear, as well as offer advice. Talk to an area dog trainer or to your veterinarian.