You’re getting a puppy? Wheeee! How exciting!
Wait. Are you sure? I would love to be your friend helping you to think this through.
- They’re lovable and cute and cuddly and fun.
- They’ll love you to pieces.
- They’re uber-loyal.
GREAT! Let’s go!
Not so fast, friend. There’s more.
They also require a lot of care and training. And time. And money. Even if you get a free one from a friend.
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You have to potty-train them (aka, train them where TO, and where NOT to, go potty).
Because even when the person you get them from says they’re “just about” potty-trained, you’re now bringing them into a new environment, where they don’t get that your lovely, soft carpet is not grass.
And they’re babies.
It will be just like starting from scratch.
So, forget what the breeder or whoever it was told you about the puppy being potty-trained.
You’ll believe it when you see it.
I recommend having a week or two off from work to fully accomplish this unless you work from home full-time.
Using wee-wee pads to potty-train is optional – or you can use old newspapers. Some people like to use one of these methods to show the new puppy WHERE in the house they can potty. We prefer just potty-training them for going outdoors from the beginning.
(Exceptions made for extreme weather or deep snow.)
If you live by yourself and work out of the home, or if everyone’s gone during the day, it’s also hard to leave them alone. As puppies, they can’t hold their bladder or poop very long. It gets better as they get older, but it’s still cruel to leave them for hours without means to go outside and potty and exercise.
And you’ll probably be worried about them, or what’s going on in your apartment or house, when you should be focusing on work or whatever you’re doing.
And if you travel a lot? You will either have to:
- get a dog-sitter, or
- pay for boarding, or
- figure out how to bring the dog along.
This is the main reason I asked, are you sure?
Please note, also – they are used to being with the other puppies and mama dog/breeder.
If they are your only pup, or if they’re afraid of other animals in your house at first, they may:
- not show their smile or fun side, or
- cry much of the night, keeping you awake.
This is all normal and will go away as they get used to their new family and home.
You will also have SEVERAL vet visits. Make your first vet appointment ASAP.
You’ll want to get the puppy examined, start on the vaccine schedule, and get set up for heartworm prevention pills – some vets even give you a free first pill for this as part of their “new puppy” package. Call around and see what vet clinics in your area offer, as well as get pricing for the exams and vaccines.
Other things you’ll need:
- A collar
- A leash – Get one they will grow into when they’re full-size.
- A crate (cage) – Dogs love to hide under things, and they will quickly learn that this is their safe place. It’s like a den – especially if you cover or partially cover it with something. It will feel cave-like and cozy for them.
The pet store can help you with sizing – many cages have a divider so you can move it as the puppy grows and make the space bigger for them over time.
- An old t-shirt or article of clothing of yours for them to sleep with. Your scent will comfort them.
- Two bowls – one for food and another one for water. You could buy a water bottle to hang on their cage, but puppies won’t know how to work this at first.
- Good quality puppy food. Breeder/Pet store didn’t share? Start fresh and pick out a good brand.
Water down dry food to make it soft and easier for the puppy to chew. No adult dog food – puppies need a different mix for their growing bodies.
Get a small bag of food from the local pet store. Then have your puppy-food auto-delivered to your home from Petflow. No lugging a big bag of pet food!
- Some soft toys, a ball, chew sticks, and treats. Petflow can help you out here, also. Not too many treats, though – you don’t want your puppy to have to lose weight as an adult dog. I bet that diet dog food tastes just as good as our diet meal plans. 😛
- A brush or comb, depending on your puppy’s coat.
- Nail clippers. No, you can’t just use yours. 😉 Unless you pay for grooming, you will need to cut your dog’s nails every so often.
Pro tip: When cutting nails, keep the flour bin handy. If you accidentally cut too close to the vein in their nail (called the “quick”), it will bleed like they’re dying – and they will
- Puppy shampoo.
- Have the vet microchip your puppy when he’s big enough. (The needle bore is quite large.)
Hopefully this will never happen, but if he gets lost, or even stolen (SHAME ON THEM!) and the rescuers (or thieves) take him to a vet, this will ensure that you are reunited with your doggie.
- Register your puppy with your local animal control after their vaccine (including rabies) series is finished. Usually around 4 months of age.
- Monthly heartworm prevention pills. Usually you can buy 6 or 12 months’ worth at a time.
- When the puppy is big enough, take him/her to get spayed/neutered. Call around for pricing – some cities may have a spay/neuter clinic that this is all they do and therefore they have cheaper pricing, yet do an excellent job.
- Not essential, but you NEED to budget this into your monthly budget – look into pet insurance. You’ll be glad you have coverage when an accident or illness happens. Embrace Pet Insurance has you covered! They even have a blog on their site, with lots of helpful articles.
EVERY dog eventually will have something happen to it (Buckeye tore both menisci on her back legs just RUNNING around the back yard when she was 2, and recently got a cyst. She had to have surgery for all of these things – pricey!).
Are you ready?
Have you gotten a puppy? What did you end up needing to do or get that’s not on this list?