Getting a puppy for the first time is an exciting adventure for both you and your puppy, and dog ownership is extremely rewarding. Introducing a puppy into your home is a life changing, long-term commitment, and the journey you and your dog take together can be filled with immense joy and happiness, but is it a journey you are prepared for? Here are some things to think about before bringing home a puppy.
What is the right breed for you?
Choosing a puppy is not a decision to be taken lightly. Often, puppies that are taken home following an impulsive decision are later found at a rehoming centre when they become too much to handle. Before choosing a puppy, there are a few things to consider:
Each dog breed has different personality traits, characteristics, temperaments, shedding rates and energy levels. You should therefore think about the breed that would most suit your current lifestyle. For example, if your ideal weekend is lounging on the sofa watching TV, then don’t choose a breed that requires a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, such as German Shepherds. If you have children, you should consider breeds that are known for the patience and tolerance of children and love of family life, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers.
It’s easy to bring home a small, more controllable puppy, but puppies that grow into large, energetic dogs may not be suitable for a small flat or a house without a garden. Consider your surroundings before settling on a breed.
If you work all day, do you have the appropriate means to provide the necessary care to a puppy? Puppies can only hold their bladders for a few hours at a time, and must be let outside within 30 minutes of eating/drinking to aid toilet training. Also, certain dog breeds are more relaxed than others, while some high-energy breeds, such as Border Collies, are not always suitable as ‘house pets’ due to their need for mental stimulation. Consider how much time you have available to commit to your puppy before choosing the breed.
Bringing a Puppy Home
Bringing home your puppy is an exciting time for you, but you have to remember that this is a stressful time for your pup. Your puppy will require time to settle into the new surroundings and routine. This transition can be made less stressful for your pup by ensuring they have a safe, comfortable area in which they can sleep, such as a crate or bed. Take it slow and do not overcrowd your puppy, let them explore in their own time and they will soon settle in!
Before bringing home your pup, you should think about puppy-proofing your house. Puppies are extremely curious and they love to explore with their mouths – and they don’t differentiate between their puppy toys and your brand new sofa! You must ensure exploration areas are safe from potentially harmful items and practice teething redirection techniques with your new pup.
Your first few nights with your new puppy can be stressful for you both as your puppy adapts to the change. Your pup will be missing his family and so a certain amount of crying is inevitable. Patience and consistency with your training here is important to avoid unwanted behaviours later on.
Establishing a routine for your puppy throughout the day and night for feeding, exercise, toilet time and sleeping will allow your puppy to feel comfortable, confident and safe in its new surroundings. Owning a puppy will be both rewarding and frustrating, but consistency with your training methods will ensure your pup grows up into the perfect companion!
Socialising your puppy should begin straight away. Between 3-12 weeks, your puppy is most receptive to new experiences, and so it is important to socialise them to allow them to become comfortable around new environments, people and other (fully vaccinated) dogs. Puppies love attention, and so positive affirmations will work wonders for guiding your pup into appropriate behaviour and will improve their responsiveness to your commands.
Remember to be patient – your puppy is new to the world and while it explores and experiences new environments, bathroom mishaps and minor destruction is inevitable. Patience and commitment during this time will ensure your pup grows into a great companion, and all the hard work will be worth it!