The slogan ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ was coined by The Dog’s Trust nearly 40 years ago. The charity reports that online searches for “new puppy” in the weeks before Christmas increased by 44% in 2019 compared to the previous year. Sadly, the charity also reports that many new dog owners looking to rehome their dogs by about March.
Have you recently become a new puppy owner or are considering bringing a dog into your life? If so, are you prepared for training, house-proofing and picking up a fair bit of poop? Read on to find out everything you’ll need to help them become a bright-eyed and waggy tailed adult dog…
Considerations before bringing a puppy home
If you feel that the time is right for you to bring a puppy home, firstly ask yourself:
- How much time can I realistically devote to a new dog?
- Can you afford to feed them, cover unexpected veterinary bills and any other need they may have, like lifelong medication?
- Does your home have enough space for a dog? Do you have a garden or park close by?
- Will everyone in your household be on board with a new housemate? That’s your partner, kids and any other pets?
- Circumstances can change, but where do you see your life in a few years? You need to be able to see your dog in your future before bringing one home.
Your next consideration should be picking a breed that suits you and whether your lifestyle and schedule can accommodate some upheaval. Could you provide the level of exercise and activity that a Husky or a spaniel needs? Or does the slower pace of a bulldog suit your lifestyle better?
Pure or crossbreed?
How much attention and training your puppy needs will need to be thought into – different breeds of dogs will require more or less than others. Also, how much time and money are you willing to invest in grooming? Some long-haired breeds will need hours of grooming every week.
Adopting or buying a dog
Research suggests that over 130,000 dogs come into UK rehoming charities each year, many of which will make loving family pets. All shelter dogs will have been vet checked, vaccinated and microchipped, and will be a lot cheaper than buying a pedigree puppy! Plus, for owners who do not have the time to socialise and train a new puppy, getting an adult dog from a rescue home can be an ideal option.
Like most purchases these days, many puppies are bought online but this does not come without its dangers. Many illegal puppy farmers have created lucrative businesses abusing female dogs by continually breeding them, often in squalid conditions and with a lack of basic veterinary care and/or medication. To find out more about puppy breeders, you can read our post here.
Preparing your home
Before bringing your new puppy home you will want to get organised and make sure the house is puppy-proofed for their arrival.
Consider getting a stair gate and avoid letting your puppy up and down the stairs until they are 4-6 months old. The reason for this is they could harm themselves by falling or damage their young ligaments and developing joints, causing long term damage.
Make sure that anything poisonous or dangerous has been removed from your home or garden, like slug pellets, anti-freeze or exposed electrical wiring. Check out our post on the 7 deadliest things found in the home and garden to pets, here.
Bedding & Puppy Crates
You’ll want to create a cosy area for your puppy to curl up in at night, so a comfortable bed like the Beco eco-friendly bed is a great option. A stylish dog bed, made from recycled plastic and hemp, that’s machine washable, hypoallergenic and odour free is ideal for a young pup. Most people choose to have a puppy crate where you can keep their bed, toys etc. – this is the best way to keep them safe at night or if you’re leaving them alone for a short period of time.
Car harness and travelling crate
You will inevitably need to take your puppy for a car ride at some point. It is now a legal requirement in the UK to correctly restrain dogs in cars. Drivers can face up to a £2,500 fine if they are caught driving when their dog is not adequately restrained. The RAC Car Harness is good quality and conveniently converts into a walking harness for when you reach your destination.
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Collar, leads and harnesses
Some dogs will prefer the classic collar and lead, others will go for the harness option – it is up to you to become attuned to what is comfortable for your dog. If they are happy, trotting along by your side then a lead may suffice, however, if they are a bit of a puller, and you notice heavy panting and straining at the neck, you may be better off with a harness. It’s all trial and error to find out what suits them best. Make sure the collar, lead or harness is suitable for age, breed and size. You should also frequently check that it fits correctly – not too tight or too loose.
Its recommended that you introduce your puppy to a grooming regime early on in small, gradual sessions so they can get used to it. A short-haired dog like a beagle or a boxer will still moult so will need a short-bristled brush to remove old hair. A long-haired dog, like a Sheepdog, will need their thick coat detangling almost daily. It’s important to groom after walks to make sure the likes of a tick hasn’t burrowed itself within their long fur.
Remember that dogs with white coats or thin coats will need extra protection in the sun and may need extra dog sunscreen to be applied to their nose and ears.
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Teaching your puppy to play is one of the most important factors in their development. Not only is it good for their jaw and dental work but also provides the stimulation their minds need to stop them from scratching and chewing the sofa or your new trainers. Opt for some interactive toys like ropes and frisbees to keep biting to a minimum and so you can play with them to increase that bond.
Puppy’s first visit to the vets
Whether your puppy came from shelter or breeder, they should have their first vaccinations from 8 weeks of age. They will not be able to go out and meet other dogs until the complete vaccination course is completed. You should also get them registered at the vets and book in a check-up. At the appointment, you’ll be advised on microchipping, further vaccinations, worming and neutering.
Training your puppy
Some puppies will cry at night during the first week or so, but this soon improves. With regards to toilet training, leave some newspaper by the door but take them out if they are showing any signs of needing to go to the toilet and also after every meal. praise them when they do go outside and try not to make too much of a fuss or become annoyed with them with the inevitable accidents that will occur. You will want to positively reinforce good experiences during their younger years so give treats and plenty of praise.
Start to get them used to outside surroundings but taking them out with their lead and collar on but do not walk them in public places until they’ve had their full vaccination course. They are still very susceptible to picking up viruses.
Puppy socialisation is regarded as being the most important thing you can do in their first 4 months. Ideally, try and book into some puppy socialisation classes, which are provided by most vets.
This article is for guidance only and if you have any concerns about your pet you should always seek the advice of a qualified vet.
If in doubt contact your veterinary practice
And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!