There’s no denial over the fact that puppies are difficult to resist. Whether they’re at the shelter, friend’s home or from a breeder, these soft and adorable bundles of fur seem to melt people’s hearts every day. As much as the cuteness factor plays a role, adopting a puppy requires also critical thinking. How big will the puppy get? Do you have enough time to cut out from your busy schedule? Who will take care of him? Puppies require lots of time, care and understanding!
So while the heart says yes, it’s important to also question the brain before plunging into the commitment of puppy parenthood. And it’s quite a commitment indeed! Puppies will depend on you for daily feedings, walks, potty training, exercise, training and socialization. Not to mention the fact that puppies grow fast, so if you fail to start early training you can soon end up with an 80-pound dog that drags you on walks and terrorizes people with his boisterous jumping. So before finalizing those adoption papers, it’s important to conduct some research and learn what owning a puppy entails so to prevent unnecessary heartbreaks and disasters down the road.
Where to Look for a Puppy?
There are several places to look for puppies, but not all are good sources. Despite what pet stores may claim, many of their puppies are unfortunately supplied by puppy mills that mass produce puppies in deplorable conditions. Consider that animal shelters and breed specific rescues have always dozens of puppies in need of good homes. Breeders are also good sources, but you’ll have to be picky in choosing reputable ones who health test their breeding stock and give importance to temperament.
What Age Should the Puppy Be?
It’s very important to adopt puppies that are at least 8 weeks of age. For certain small dog breeds, puppies may need to be at least 12 weeks before they go to their new homes. Separating puppies from their mom and litter mates too early may lead to problematic behaviors. It’s important for the puppies to stay long enough with their mother and siblings so to learn important social skills such as bite inhibition. In certain states, it’s even unlawful to sell puppies that are under a certain age.
How to Pick the Right Puppy?
All puppies are cute, there’s no doubt about that, but is the puppy a good fit for you and your family? Hopefully, a good breeder will screen potential puppy owners and match them with the best puppies. Not all puppies are created equal, and even within a litter there are puppies that do best with more or less experienced owners.
Selecting a breed that is a good match for your lifestyle is imperative. Are you an active person looking for a dog that will accompany you when you go jogging or on hikes? Are you laid back and would rather walk a dog around the block? Are you looking for a dog that gets along well with children? Do you have other pets in your home? These are just some of the many questions you should ask yourself. There are several online quizzes to help you make a good choice.
What do Puppies Need?
Your new puppy will need several necessities before you take him home. Food and water bowls are basic necessities, but you will need much more. Consider purchasing a collar that can be adjusted as your puppy grows. Also, make sure you have a leash so you can attach it to the collar to take your puppy on walks. Be careful though not to walk your young puppy in places where he can catch infective diseases, at least until he has completed his whole vaccination series. Consult with your vet.
You will also need age-appropriate toys, products to clean up messes, grooming tools and a soft place for him to sleep. A crate or small play pen will also be needed for potty training. Make sure you purchase one of the right size; if it’s too large it will defeat its purpose of preventing the puppy from soiling where he sleeps and you’ll likely end up with a puppy who eliminates in one end of the crate and sleeps comfortably on the opposite end!
Other than basic necessities, puppies will also need loads of socialization and training. In puppies, there is a brief window of opportunity during which they should be exposed to as many experiences as possible so they can learn more about the world surrounding them. This window of opportunity generally closes between 12 to 16 weeks. Make sure your puppy gets to meet as many children, adults, seniors, dogs and other pets as possible. Puppy classes are a good place to meet other puppies and learn appropriate social behaviors. Early socialization and training can be started as soon as your puppy comes home.
Bringing the Puppy HomeSo you have chosen a puppy and now the big day has finally arrived. Make sure your home is well puppy proofed so to keep your puppy safe! Close supervision is important as young puppies will want to mouth and chew everything they can put their mouths on. When you are unable to supervise your troublemaker, it’s best to have him in a crate or a pen.
Expect to take your puppy outside quite frequently as young puppies haven’t attained yet bladder and bowel control. Depending on how old your puppy is, you will likely have to also take him outside several times during the night. When your puppy goes successfully potty outdoors, make sure you praise and reward him and continue to do so until he is successfully potty trained. Make sure you diligently clean up any messes with a good enzyme-based cleaner that removes any traces of smell.
The Puppy’s First Night
The first night can be a bit stressful on the puppy, especially if this is the first time he is separated from his mother and litter mates. It’s not a bad idea to keep his crate or pen nearby your bed, so if he starts whining, you are there to reassure him. Things get better though the following nights as he habituates to all the new smells, sights and sounds. Puppies adjust quickly and sooner than later they’ll be acting as if they’ve known you for a lifetime.
As seen, puppies can sure be a handful! Potty training may feel like a long time if you’re not prepared on what to expect. Your puppy will also need ongoing training, exercise and mental stimulation for the rest of his life. Doing as much research as possible and learning what to expect can really help you through your journey.