After a lot of consideration and talking to your family, you have decided you want a puppy. Or maybe you decided you want an older dog. But have you considered everything?
Before you get all the toys, bed and food, make sure that you have considered the role you will now become…dog owner. If you have never owned a dog yourself, there are a few things you need to remember and consider. The first thing is you must know that being a dog owner cannot be taken lightly. New puppies and even new older dogs will wake you in the middle of the night. Sometimes out of loneliness and sometimes to go potty. They require training and schooling. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure your dog is obedience trained. You also have to think about the expense of veterinarian appointments. Depending on what breed you get and their size, these can be costly. These are a few things you must think about when you have decided to get a new member of the family.
Once you have thought about the different things from above, now it’s time to think about what breed or what kind of dog you want. Some people want purebred dogs and some want mixed breeds. You can’t go wrong with either. The only real difference between purebred and mixed is the purebred will come with a pedigree that you can trace the family history and medical history. Choosing the right dog is important regardless of purebred or mixed. You need to think about these factors…..What size of a dog do you want when they are fully grown? What are the exercise requirements for it? Are they known for there assertiveness and friendliness? The most important one you need to consider whether you have kids or not is how are they with children? Certain breeds have certain reputations that they have had for centuries, like German Shepherds are always the best guard dogs or terriers all have bad attitudes. I can tell you with both b and with other dogs they do not always follow those reputations. I’ve seen German Shepherd’s with no drive to work and I’ve seen terries be sweet. So while it is important to study the breed you have chosen to get, don’t always believe the reputations they come with. One of the great things with mixed breeds is that it will be fairly easy to guess temperament, size and appearance. But the one thing you should do is research what you want!
You’ve chosen the breed you want or you have chosen one that you want to adopt. The next is preparing to bring them home. Just like bringing home a new child, you have to prepare your house for your new best friend. This is when you want to buy toys, treats, grooming supplies and other necessities. Whether you live alone or are a family, you need to sit down and come up with a feeding and exercise schedule. Another thing you will need to do is prepare you house. Make sure to move all breakables and anything the dog/puppy can chew on somewhere else. Move any plants that could be poisonous to a dog and make sure all electrical cords are out of sight and reach. If you don’t have a fence you need to think where will they go potty at. If you don’t have a fence than you need to think about a tie out so the dog can stretch its legs. If you are adopting from a rescue or humane society, one of the requirements to adopt and even bring them home is having a fence. Inside your home you need to set up a place that is just theirs. A crate, which I highly suggest for any dog coming into a new environment let alone a puppy, blanket or bed can be their space. You want to make it so they know this is where they can go if they are scared or uncertain and it will keep them safe when you leave the house.
The day has arrived that you’re bringing your new best friend home! It is a exciting time for you and can be for the dog. But you need to remember that it can also be a scary time. For a puppy this will probably be the first time it is away from its brothers or sisters. I’d suggest taking a towel/blanket or a new toy with you to pick up the puppy. While you are talking with the breeder and signing contracts, ask them if you can put that item in with the puppies. This will give your pup a little comfort at its new home because it smells like its family. A dog coming from a rescue or humane society can either be really excited or a little fearful. All of these things are normal. The biggest thing you need to do for both puppies and older dogs is give them time!!! Especially for an older dog, it will take time for them to relax and understand that they aren’t going anywhere again that this is their home. I’m talking like 3 months or more for a rescue or older dog to finally completely relax. Make sure that you show them where their water bowl and food bowl is and then just let them explore. Keep an eye on them from a distance but let them check out their new digs.
It’s so exciting to bring home a new puppy or dog and you want to introduce them to all your family and friends. That is to be expected. But you need to introduce them slowly to people and you need to do it the right way. Do not let people, especially children, crowd the dog/puppy or get in its face. Depending on the breed of puppy you brought home they could be mouthy by nature and accidentally grab a hold of a lip or nose with teeth. With an older dog it can make them feel threatened and even though they are sweet tempered, any dog that feels threatened can get aggressive. The same goes for introducing them to other dogs and animals. If you force it or allow someone else’s dog to get in your dogs face, it could become aggressive. Make sure to study up on how to do introductions the correct way before trying them.
Once the puppy or older dog has relaxed a bit it’s now time to start potty training. This is mainly for puppies but older dogs will need to know where they are going to go potty and and you need to help them learn how to tell you they need to. There are several books and things from the American Kennel Club to help you understand how to teach your puppy potty training. But most of your older dogs will have this knowledge when you adopt them. This is also the time to start house training them as well. This is when you must set the rules of the house…right at the beginning. One example of a rule is….if you allow your puppy to lay in your favorite chair, they are going to think this is acceptable. But you need to also think..Do I want a 90lb dog sitting in this chair with me? It can get a little crowded that way.
Just like you and I have to have regular doctor visits, so do they. Make sure that when you bring your new puppy or dog home that you make an appointment with the vet you have chosen just to have a good thorough exam done. For puppies this is very important to make sure that they are on the path to get all their puppy vaccines and they are healthy. Make sure that you are feeding a healthy diet to your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about what kind is best for your dog. Another thing to talk to your vet about is about heartworm and flea and tick medicines. You will need to make sure that it also gets proper exercise. This doesn’t just mean playing ball in the backyard. This means going for walks, hikes or whatever to get their energy out. Make sure that you know what kind of bathing and grooming requirements your dog needs. It is your responsibility to make sure that your dog is groomed and bathed and their coats are brushed out. Another must do is know any and all health risks your breed might have.
There are things that you need to do to help make sure your dog is safe, with or without you. Make sure you get them microchipped. This can be done when they are puppies or adults. Most rescues and humane society’s will have this done for you the day you pick them up. BUT!! It is your responsibility to make sure the chip is registered AND you keep the information attached to it updated. If you move make sure you call and give the company your new address. If you get a new phone number make sure they have it. A microchip is no good if your dog is lost and you have not updated the information and no one can reach you to return your best friend to you. Some cities you have to a dog tag license. Make sure that your dog has their tag on them at all times. You also should get an ID tag made for them to wear with all your information on it. Again, get a new tag if any of your information changes. Make sure that your dog has shelter in the backyard. Even if they are only out for a short time, they need something to protect them from rain, snow, heat and cold. We all love to take our dogs with us on road trips. But we have to think about their safety there as well. Keep them in crates or use the seat belt harnesses. There is nothing worse than your dog jumping out the car window at a red light, or God forbid you’re in a car accident, your dog needs to be safe. Along with keeping them safe on the road, you need to make sure that you are prepared for any kind of disaster or emergency order to leave your house. Make sure that you have a dog emergency kit that includes a bowl for water and one for food. Fresh water and food and you have a canine first aid kit. Put emergency contact information in the pack as well in case you get separated. Another thing that I suggest you do and lawyers will recommend is having someone that will take your dog or dogs if something happens to you. Talk to the person you have decided would be best for them and make sure that they agree to it. There are so many dogs put in shelters and rescues after their owner gets sick or passes away because family members don’t want the responsibility.
This is just the beginning of your new life with your puppy or adopted dog. Hopefully it will be a long one and one full of adventure for you both. Always remember……..you are responsible for these animals health and well being. Give them all the love and care in the world, and you’ll get it from them tenfold.