Dogs are called “man’s best friend” for a reason; they keep us company, they keep us safe, and they help us do work that we may not be able to do on our own. Dogs have come a long way with humans, and we love them just as much as they love us. It’s only natural to consider adding a new puppy to your family.
However, puppies can require a whole lot of work. Getting them housebroken, socialized, and trained can be a daunting task for anyone. If you’re considering adopting a new four-legged friend, be sure you know what you’re getting into by reading our guide! We’ll tell you everything you need to know about taking care of a new puppy.
An Important Question To Ask Yourself
Before we begin, it’s important to ask yourself at least one question before you commit to adopting your new best friend. Ask yourself, “Can I take care of a dog?”
Now, we know that seems like a simple question, but it’s a lot more complicated than you’d think. Dogs, puppies especially, require a lot of time and attention. They’re also a financial commitment since they need to be vaccinated and have regular vet visits. When you’re adopting a puppy, you have to understand that you’re adding a new member to your family and that they’ll need to be treated as such. Dogs shouldn’t be treated as fashion accessories (though you can certainly make your pup fashionable).
If you’ve really analyzed this question, and you can truly provide everything that a dog will need, then keep reading about what you’ll need to do to take care of a puppy!
Phase 1: Preparing Your Home
Before you can bring your new best friend home, you have to make sure that your home is ready for a puppy. Puppies often have a curious nature and have a whole lot of energy. That being said, you’ll have to have the house prepared for your puppy effectively. You’ll also need to have all of the items that a puppy needs to be happy and enriched.
Puppy-Proofing Your Home
To make your home ready for a four-legged friend, you’ll need to make sure that they can’t get into trouble.
When you’re preparing your home, consider the following things:
- Move breakables out of reach
- Keep low windows closed
- Lock any harmful chemicals/toxic plants away
- Fence in your yard, if possible
- Keep the trash covered
- Partition areas off in the house where the puppy shouldn’t be
- Put any electrical cords away that can be stored
Getting All the Right Supplies
If you don’t have a dog yet, then you’ll need to pick up items and supplies for your puppy! These items can vary, depending on your situation, but here’s a general list of things to purchase before you bring your new best friend home.
Make sure to buy:
- Puppy food
- Food and water bowls
- A harness with ID tags and a sturdy leash
- Comfortable dog bed
- Grooming supplies
- Delicious, healthy treats for training
- Puppy-safe chew toys
Once you’ve gotten all of these supplies, you’re ready to move onto the next phase of puppy ownership and care.
Phase 2: Pick Your Puppy
Picking your puppy is a big step. Because of the large number of puppies that need homes, adopting a rescue is incredibly important. When you’re picking a rescue for adoption, it needs to be understood that a puppy’s personality will develop over time. While the puppy you pick may be highly energetic at the shelter, they may grow into being a relaxed dog.
Asking shelter volunteers about the puppy that you are considering adopting. They spend a lot of time with these dogs and can give you an idea of what they act like around people, other dogs, and by themselves. These are all important perspectives when it comes to taking care of your new puppy.
Phase 3: Bringing Your Puppy Home
How you bring your puppy home helps establish their comfort level. Being introduced to a new place is a big deal for a young dog, and it can be quite intimidating for them. To make sure that they get used to their new home, give them lots of attention.
This helps them feel welcome in the new space to begin with. Additionally, their dog bed or crate should be brought into your room so that they can be close to you. This will help make them feel safer.
Establish a Routine
With puppies, routines are everything, but the first routine you need to establish surrounds their eating habits. Feeding your puppy at the same time(s) every day is important. This helps them know when to expect food and how much to expect.
Proper portioning is highly important for young puppies, and they may need more food than you think. If you’re unsure how much food your puppy should be eating, consult your veterinarian for an expert opinion.
Schedule Vet Visits Soon After Settling In
A big part of owning a puppy is making sure that they’re developing the way that they should be. A vet can help you determine that, as well as make sure that your puppy gets their four core vaccinations. Schedule a vet visit soon after your puppy gets settled in at home.
Phase 4: House Training
House training can be an overwhelming task for some, but a necessary one. The important thing to remember when house training a new puppy is patience and routine. Plan on taking your puppy at the same time every day and praising them for going to the bathroom outside.
When it comes to frequency, a good rule of thumb is to take a puppy out is to take their age and add one. For example, a two-month-old puppy should be taken out every three hours, minimum.
An important part of house training is not allowing your puppy to become accustomed to using potty pads indoors. If you allow this behavior to persist, they’ll begin to believe that it’s okay for them to relieve themselves indoors all of the time. Potty pads are counter-productive during house training.
Phase 5: Training and Socialization
Training and socialization should come in many forms for your puppy. Training should happen at home to encourage good behaviors, like waiting to be fed and respecting boundaries. Socialization can happen by having people with dogs come over, or by taking your puppy to the park once they’ve gotten all of their shots.
Leash training is one of the most difficult things to train a dog on. Many dogs like to pull naturally, and a standard collar and leash can actually encourage that behavior. When picking out a walking solution for a puppy, a leash and a harness should be purchased.
A good harness comes with a no-pull attachment on the front, which helps discourage pulling behaviors from the start. Being on a leash can be difficult for a puppy, but training can help make it easier.
Socializing with People and Other Dogs
If you plan on having company frequently or getting another dog down the line, your puppy needs to socialize with people and other dogs. If you skip this vital step, then your puppy might become irritable or protective as it grows into an adult. Socialization with other dogs should be monitored, as dogs can act unpredictably. When our puppy and the other dog have bonded, then they can be left amongst themselves more readily.
Positive contact with other people is highly important if you want to have a friendly adult dog. For the most part, puppies are very friendly to nearly all people. However, if your puppy isn’t given the opportunity to be around others, they may become overprotective of your family and can be skittish or aggressive depending on their temperament. Make sure that you give your puppy plenty of socialization opportunities.
Grow With Your Puppy
The most important part of taking care of a puppy is growing with them. When you adopt a puppy, you get a friend for life. Watching them grow into an adult dog is a pleasure, and it's something that should be taken seriously, but not too seriously.
While it can be challenging at times, it is highly rewarding. Remember to give your pup all of the attention that they need to grow into a healthy adult dog and to provide for them just as you would any member of your family. Doing so will lead to many happy memories with your four-legged friend!