Preparing for a new puppy

Preparing for a new puppy

Don’t let the anticipation of all that cuddly cuteness detract from the fact that puppies are also hard work. Preparation is your best bet to ensure a relaxed bonding experience with your new pup. We called on the experts to compile a list of the most commonly overlooked recommendations.

There’s more to it than vaccinations, a leash and constantly refilled water bowls, say Dr Katy J. Nelson, a Virginia-based veterinarian in the USA and member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council, and Dr E’Lise Christensen, a New York City-based veterinary behaviorist. Together they’ve compiled a hit list to keep you a step ahead of your all-over-the-place pup.

Know your breeds

Think it through: Whether you’re buying from a breeder or adopting from a rescue shelter, you should research the breed to ensure it’s a good lifestyle fit. “People don’t give adequate consideration to what breed they are getting; they see a dog they think is cute and get it without a thought as to whether or not their own personality and lifestyle is appropriate for the breed,” says Nelson.

Puppy-proof your home

New baby: “Puppy-proofing is much like baby-proofing. You must protect them from themselves,” says Nelson. In fact, the baby-proofing items found in home improvement or baby stores are just what you’ll need.

Poison free: It’s also very important to keep all medication locked away. The number one cause of animal poisoning is the ingestion of human medication.

Pup point of view:  “Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around to see the world from their level,” says Nelson, “and you’ll find plenty to puppy-proof.”

Preparing the kids

Running wild: Kids and puppies gravitate to each other but kids are understandably the least informed and the least restrained when it comes to puppies. It is very important that puppies have only positive experiences with children, says Christensen.

Soft touch: Kids need to be taught restraint and all puppy time should be supervised. “They should only touch the puppy gently and only at times the puppy is interested in interacting,” she says.

Distance required:  “Play remote games, such as fetch or chase the kibble/food rather than hugging, lifting or grabbing a puppy.”

Learn doggy body language


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Don’t assume: Misinterpreting body language is an area where adults can be as uninformed as children. It’s easy to assume a dog’s body language is self-evident, such as a wagging tail, but that’s far from the truth. “A wagging tail does not always mean a dog wants to be petted. Some tail wagging may even be a sign of distress and a warning that the dog may bite, says Christensen.

Choose a food

Transition time: Most breeders or rescue shelters will send you home with a short supply of the food your puppy had been eating. Use this at first and slowly introduce the food you’ve chosen, based on research and a consultation with your veterinarian.

Location, location: Christensen also suggests deciding on a single location for feeding and sticking to it. Regularity and routine are the cornerstones of a good training regime.

Start saving

Every dog has its day: Top of Christensen’s to-do list for responsible owners is to ensure adequate funds for veterinary bills and daily care. An accident or illness could see your dog expenses rocket from a few hundred per year in to the thousands. Create an account and contribute to it on a regular basis. If possible, take out insurance. When the time comes, you’ll be extremely grateful for the foresight.

Knowledge is puppy power

Especially if you are lacking prior experience, caring for a puppy does not come instinctively. Both experts urge you to do more of your own research on these and other care measures. “Educate yourself on what your dog needs to live a long and healthy life,” says Nelson.

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