When you think of a puppy, your brain will automatically think of cuteness, fun, playtime, adventure, love, etc.
However, be aware that welcoming a new puppy is hard work and will require major investments, in both time and resources.
Before making such an important decision you also need to think long-term. Let’s not forget the average lifespan of a dog is between 10 to 15 years.
We’ve prepared a non-exhaustive list of things you need to know before welcoming a puppy into your home, based on our experience with our own!
Get your supplies
You can find a variety of checklists online, but most important items are:
Food and water bowls; bed; toys; gates; food & treats; collar; leash; grooming tools; shampoo.
Get your home ready
Dedicate a space for your puppy with the gates, preferably a living area where there’s movement and noises. Throw in a bed and some toys for occupation.
Our experience has proved that you need to store away everything that is lying around and that may be chewed in the long run. A puppy does not know what is good or bad, you will have to teach them, but best is to hide your valuable goods for a while.
Do your homework
All breeds are different and you need to be aware of your dog’s character traits to ensure everything goes your way once the puppy is here.
We recommend reading lots of articles on your dog’s breed to be as best prepared as you can.
Take time off
If you can, please do.
It will certainly not be as fun as spending some time overseas but we do feel it is necessary to be home at least for a week, and even more if you can!
High quality food
Purchase high quality puppy food. Depending on the breed you have chosen, a puppy can very quickly become a giant dog and they need their fair share of good quality proteins to grow strong.
Also make sure the treats are adapted to your dog’s size and age. If you feel you are giving too many treats a day, switch to kibble, they won’t see any difference!
Our advice is to feed your puppy three times a day for at least 6-8 months – to ensure good digestion and to avoid upset stomachs. From 8 months onwards, 2 times a day is sufficient.
Time to bond and to house-train
This is basically what you’ll be doing during your first week off. Spend time with your new dog so you can form a bond, get to know each other, you are about to live together for a good decade!
A puppy needs to go outside every 2 to 3 hours at first, especially after play time, nap time or after being fed. You need to have a constant eye on your dog (including at night) to make sure they integrate that potty = outside. If you do that, your dog is likely to be house-trained within a short couple of weeks.
Start training early
Our best advice is to start training asap. There is no need to spend hours outside at first, start with the easy commands such as sit, down and stay and focus on these before moving forward to the next.
The first thing we’ve always taught our dogs is to sit and stay before eating. They need to understand that you are the one to decide when they can eat. They will learn quickly, and it will stick!
Start training with treats at first, and then progressively lose the treats and congratulate with pats or with a happy tone of voice.
We also recommend training at lunch time with the kibble food!
Once the basic commands are in, continue on to the next ones (heel, walking with the leash, etc).
Patience is key
This all does not happen overnight; you need to be patient and consistent. Our experience has shown that you get a decently trained dog after roughly a year. There is no space for complacency!
Be confident, feel good about yourself and your dog will follow your steps.
Implement a routine
It’s always best for dogs to have a structured routine. Night is for sleep, morning is for walk, food and potty, then comes playtime and nap time, food again, etc.
For instance, our own dogs know that 8pm is dinner time, and be sure that they will never lose an opportunity to remind you what time it is.
Teach your dog to stay alone
As bad as it sounds, it’s important for your dog to tolerate being alone for a while. Whether it’s only 15 minutes or a couple hours, they need to be comfortable being alone. Overprotecting your dog can lead to depression or self-harm when left alone when they grow older
If your puppy cries, let it!
Your dog needs to be able to handle any type of situation in any type of environment. If you live in the countryside, force yourself to go on walks in the city (and vice versa).
Meet with other dogs, with kids, with friends. Puppy school is the icing on the cake, but taking your dog with you on any occasion already helps.
Find a good vet
You are likely to visit the vet at least once a year (and in reality, many more). It’s important to find one you trust and to have a good relationship with them (after all, they are your precious creature’s doctors)!
Watch this space for more updates on the Pets Ark!
The Pets Ark family