Eager to adopt a puppy? Before you bring a new furry family member home, there are a lot of things you need to consider. Below are just some of the things that often get overlooked when becoming a puppy owner.
Getting the right breed for your lifestyle
There are so many breeds of dog to choose from. In fact, the FCI officially recognises 360 dog breeds. These breeds come in different sizes with different temperaments and needs. It’s important to not just choose a breed that looks cute, but to choose a breed that fits your lifestyle.
For example, if you have kids and you love going on long family walks, an active docile breed such as a labrador or bernese mountain dog could be a good choice. If you live in a small apartment and have mobility issues, a small dog that doesn’t need long walks such as a french bulldog or dachshund may be ideal.
There are online guides and questionnaires such as this one at https://www.purina.co.uk/find-a-pet/dog-breeds/breed-selector that can help pair you with the right breed. You should be wary of the fact that all breeds are pretty lively as puppies. It’s worth also looking beyond pure breeds and considering mixed breed dogs (many of these dogs have a calmer temperament and reduced risk of health problems).
Choosing a reputable breeder
When adopting a puppy, it’s important to choose a breeder that cares about the welfare of their dogs and isn’t just looking to make a profit. While some people may be eager to rescue a dog from an unscrupulous breeder, you should consider the fact that these dogs may have a greater risk of health problems due to the way they have been bred and raised. This could make the experience of owning a dog more stressful and expensive for you.
There are a few signs that an owner is reputable and worth adopting from:
- They are happy to answer any questions you may have and seem very knowledgeable about the breed
- They want to ask you questions to get an idea of your lifestyle and home environment
- They are happy for you to visit their home (and the puppies and parents seem well looked after)
- They’re a Kennel Club Assured Breeder
- The puppy is no younger than 8 weeks when sold and has been microchipped
- They are not eager to rush you into adopting a puppy and ask you to visit the puppy a few days/weeks before taking them home
Timing it right
Looking after a puppy can be challenging and time-consuming. Ideally, you want to avoid adopting a puppy while dealing with other potentially challenging events that could be stressful for you and your dog (such as raising a newborn or moving home). You also need to be present to keep an eye on them and help them settle. It could be worth taking time off from your job or asking to work from home (if you have the option) if your job requires you to be away from home for long periods and there is no-one else at home to look after your puppy. You may also want to avoid adopting a puppy if you’ve got a holiday booked the week after, as this will make it harder for them to settle.
Getting the right size bed/crate
Your dog needs somewhere to sleep that feels safe and cosy. A bed within a crate is the best solution.
Most owners remember to buy a bed and a crate – however many make the mistake of buying one that is too small. Larger breeds of dog can quickly outgrow a small bed and small crate, which could mean having to buy a new one in a few weeks. A bigger bed and crate will take up more space in your home, but you don’t have to worry about your puppy outgrowing it.
Protecting your flooring and furniture
When it comes to puppy-proofing your home, it could be important to protect your flooring and furniture from damage. Paws are the biggest cause of damage – your floors and furniture can easily become scratched and stained from mud if you’re not careful.
The best flooring option for dogs is tile, but most people do not have this throughout their home. To protect carpets and laminate flooring, consider putting rugs or mats down in strategic places. This could include by the back door and underneath food/water bowls.
As for protecting furniture such as sofas and armchairs, you could consider placing slipcovers over them or adding throws – these will protect your sofa from scratches and mud. Many slipcovers are machine-washable, which makes cleaning them easy.
Buying toys that last
Toys are a great boredom breaker for puppies and can also help with pain when teething. Puppies are also less likely to chew furniture and other things they shouldn’t be chewing if they have toys to bite on instead. Unfortunately, some puppies are very skilled at destroying toys – in some cases, a toy may only last five minutes.
Buying new toys could get expensive if they’re constantly destroying them. This is why it’s worth investing in some tough toys that aren’t going to be easily torn to shreds. Check out some of these indestructible toys here at https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/pets/g5025/indestructible-dog-toys/. You can also save money by making some of your own toys.
Paying for puppy training
Some dog owners mistakenly believe that training is only for troublesome and disobedient dogs. In actual fact, all dog owners can benefit from training – especially when a dog is in its puppy stage. Training can teach shortcuts and easy ways of enforcing good behaviours, which can ultimately make you and your dog happier. The best time to look into training is when your dog is a puppy – this can stop bad habits developing early, which could be hard to train out later down the line.
While you can find various training tips online for free (such as here on this blog), it’s often worth paying for training to get more detailed and personalised advice. There are puppy training classes that you can join for socialising your dog and getting personalised advice. Alternatively, you can meet up with a puppy trainer for one-on-one sessions. There are also online puppy training courses available at sites like https://www.puppytrainedright.com/site/home.
Spending enough time with your puppy
Puppies need a lot of attention. As mentioned earlier, timing your adoption right can be important so that you’re not distracted with too many other tasks and not away from home for too long – ideally you want to adopt a puppy when you are able to take some time off or be at home regularly.
You should be able to enjoy a couple hours playtime with your pup each day. Puppies also need to be regularly fed throughout the day (3 to 4 meals for larger breeds, and up to 6 meals for toy breed pups). Puppies shouldn’t be left alone at home for more than two hours at a time. When left at home, it could be wise to keep them in their crate to prevent them destroying anything/getting injured.
Getting vaccines/signing up with a vet
Signing up with a local vet is something you should do as soon as possible when getting a puppy. It is important for making sure that your puppy gets all of their jabs.
Puppies can be vaccinated as early as 4 weeks, although typically they get their first jabs between 8 and 10 weeks. Second doses are given 2 to 4 weeks later, and boosters are then provided after about 6 months. These can protect against various diseases from kennel cough to parainfluenza, which your dog is at risk of catching when socialising with other dogs.
When adopting your pup, you should talk to the breeder to determine which jabs your puppy has had – a good breeder will be able to tell you which jabs are due and when. A vet will also be able to tell you which jabs your pup needs and help schedule them for you. Shop around to find a trusted and affordable vet (you could consider taking out pet insurance to help pay for vet fees – pet insurance is very cheap for puppies).
Brushing your dog’s teeth
The idea of brushing a dog’s teeth can seem silly to some owners, however it’s as necessary as brushing humans’ teeth. Most vets will recommend a brushing regime to prevent dental decay – it could save you a lot of money in future vet bills and keep your dog happier.
It’s good to get into the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth early while they are still a pup. You can buy specialist dog toothpaste and a dog toothbrush. Never use human toothpaste as it is toxic to dogs. This post offers a brief guide on how to brush your dog’s teeth: https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-brushing-dog-teeth.