Adopting a puppy will go smoothly if you anticipate and prepare for the coming of that small bundle of joy and energy into your house. However your puppy finds his way into your heart and home, there are a few helpful guidelines that can make the transition easier on all of you.
A puppy, like a human baby, requires more than his weight in equipment from the beginning. Let’s look at the New Puppy Checklist of things you will need to own as soon as you chose your puppy:
- Travel Crate or Soft-Sided Carrier. This will help you bring your puppy home and take him to the vet or visits to friends safely. The crate goes in the back seat or cargo area, preferably seat-belted in. See Buying the Right Dog Carrier.
- Leash and Collar Or Harness. Expect to replace these as he grows, but it’s best to get a new puppy used to wearing his tags and walking on a leash. Apply for the ID tags as soon as you know your dog’s name. See Dog Collars: Which is Best for Your Dog?.
- Food and Water Bowls. These should be sturdy and easy to clean as well as size appropriate.
- Food. It’s a good idea to begin with the food your puppy’s previous caregiver used and then modify your choice as advised by your vet. See Puppy Feeding Schedule and Guide.
- Bed. Every doggy needs a soft, washable snuggly place to call his own. See Which Kind of Dog Bed is Right for Your Dog?.
- Crate. If you plan to crate train, the crate should precede the puppy into the house. See Buying the Right Dog Carrier.
- Piddle Pads and Newspapers. New puppies leak and, whether you are planning to train to pads or not, you will need some absorbent products for the first few weeks.
- Toys. A variety of safe toys to chew and snuggle with make a puppy feel at home. See The Best Types of Toys for Your Dog.
How To Prepare Your Home For A Puppy
Inviting a puppy into your life provides a great opportunity for housecleaning on a major scale. Since puppies will chew and swallow anything, make sure the floor is very clean of debris. Elevate and secure electrical cords. Time to give up candles, a glass menagerie and candy jars on the coffee table for a while. Cigarette butts, chocolate, grapes and ant traps are toxic and dangerous for puppies, so get any random objects out of your puppy’s reach.
You can puppy-proof rooms your puppy shouldn’t enter with baby gates. Do not use the old accordion-style gates; they are as dangerous for puppies as they are for toddlers. Gates that open easily, secure tightly, and can be seen through will protect your puppy from dangerous areas and will save your special rooms from puppy accidents.
Remember, puppies WILL get into things. So you will need to behave differently than you did pre-puppy. Do not leave grocery bags, purses, briefcases, backpacks or any easy-to-open containers on the floor. Block off stairs until you know puppy can go up and down without taking a tumble. Basically, think human toddler times 4.
Bringing home a new puppy is always a very exciting and special day that you will always remember. For puppy it may be the day he left his littermates and mother or the day his wandering from foster home to foster home ends, the beginning of the best part of his life, but also a terrifying day of changes and unfamiliar faces and smells. Try to reduce stress by making his drive home as calm and quiet as possible. Make sure he goes to the bathroom before getting in the car. You could put him in his crate, but a small and quiet puppy can be carried in a blanket by a family member or friend. Make sure you talk to him all the way home.
Entering your house should be made calm and happy for him. Keep his greeters down to immediate family and allow him to play and sleep according to his rhythms. Make sure he eats and, especially that he drinks and take him out often so he can relieve himself. It’s not a bad idea to put his crate in your room at night so he will feel you are near him and not be scared. A few plush toys in his bed substitute for companions.
There are many puppy dog breeds. Learn as much about all of them as you can so you can decide which breed’s intrinsic characteristics might be right for your family. Do not be swayed by dogs featured in movies or cartoons. ( Dalmatians are not really like that.) Make a decision based on your research. Of course, you might see a mixed breed puppy looking hopefully up at you from his cage in the shelter. And you just might fall hard for those puppy dog eyes and take him home knowing that, big or small, loud or quiet, sporty or couchy, this is the puppy for you.
About the Author: Helen Fazio and her dog Raja blog on pet travel and related topics at www.traveldogbooks.com. In their first book, “The Journey of the Shih Tzu,” Raja tells the wolf to woof story of the development of this amazing breed. They are working on forthcoming titles.
Photo: Johnny Jupiter