Preparing for a New Puppy
If you've decided to bring a puppy home, chances are you've already determined that this is the right pet and the right breed for your household. If not, take a few steps back and do it. Adopting or purchasing a puppy that is incompatible with your family will only lead to stress and unhappiness for you and the animal.
The most obvious step in preparation is making sure you have all the things a puppy will need. Buy a large bag of quality puppy chow, and make sure to get a "large breed" variation if your puppy is expected to grow to a large size. Chew toys are another essential. Puppies are, essentially, four-legged newborns that grow up really fast. Everything in the world is new to them and they'll want to explore it. Encouraging a puppy to play with his or her toys and not other objects from an early age will help prevent destructive tenancies later on. Bite sized treats are ideal for puppies, as their jaws and teeth are not yet as strong as those of an adult dog. Use them to reinforce good behavior and during training exercises. Puppy pads may be helpful in house training, though not all puppies respond to them. Grooming supplies and carpet cleaner are likely to come in handy.
It's important that you don't put off purchasing the following items: a collar, a leash, and a kennel. Despite how much you may want to just let a puppy run free at first, letting him or her adjust to being restrained will make life easier on everyone. A dog that has grown used to a bare neck may not rest until he manages to find a way out of his new collar; a dog that has never been leashed may rebel when finally put on one for a walk. It's best to get a puppy used to it during a very young age, while they are easier to control.
Be prepared to start crate training a puppy the very first night. Buy a kennel that is large enough for him to sit, stand and turn around it, but not large enough that he will be encouraged to relieve himself at the other end of the kennel. Be ready to put up with lots of whining at first, but rest assured that kenneling is not cruel--dogs are den creatures and a kennel will serve as a den.
There are other things that can help prepare the household for the arrival of a puppy. Make sure that everyone in the family knows what they will be responsible for when it comes to caring for the young canine. It may be helpful to create a schedule for everyone to follow regarding the puppy's care. Also be sure to puppy proof the house and let everyone know what it takes the keep it that way. Creating a checklist of things that need to be kept out of reach/sight of the puppy may make this easier.
If there are other animals in the house be prepared to socialize the puppy accordingly. If there is a chance that the older pet(s) may become aggressive toward the puppy then try introducing them on neutral grounds away from the home and then bringing them home together.
Set up an appointment for the vet and look into obedience training if you do not plan to handle this yourself. Read up about the breed(s) and seek out others who have successfully raised a puppy if you've never done it yourself. Covering all these bases before a puppy is brought home will help make it easier to handle anything that may come up. Make life with the new, furry family member an enjoyable experience by taking the time to properly prepare.
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