The arrival of a new dog in your home is a special moment. The sense of excitement you and your family experience will be huge. But amid all the excitement, there are a few boring, practical considerations. If you are to get off to the right start, you need to prepare for the dog’s arrival and be ready to deal with a number of issues.
Before your puppy’s arrival - making your home ‘puppy proof’
Puppies are balls of exuberant energy. They will want to explore every nook and cranny of your home. You will find this entertaining – until, that is, they break or chew something precious or valuable. You will then regret not having made your home ‘puppy proof’. So the first thing you need to do in advance of your puppy’s arrival are to clear away items that you would normally keep at floor level within the house. For instance, you should move floor plants and ornaments. You should also put away shoes or slippers. Puppies love nothing more than chewing on these.
You should also remove anything precious or breakable that is at or below tail height. If you’re in any doubt, take it out. You will only have yourself to blame if a precious heirloom or valuable ornament gets broken by your puppy. If you have valuable furniture made of wood, you should consider moving it to a place where your puppy won’t be able to reach it. Puppies love testing their new teeth on wood – if you don’t want your antique table chewed, remove it.
You should also clear away in the kitchen and bathroom areas. Make sure nothing hazardous is within range of your puppy, for example, cleaning fluids and disinfectants. A mouthful of a poisonous substance could result in tragedy. Equally, make sure you secure phone wires and electric cords. Puppies love gnawing away at everything and cables are no exception. They can easily deliver themselves electric shocks.
Make sure you put away your children’s toys along with all the accessories and parts that go with them. A puppy could easily choke on them.
Finally, don’t forget to check out the outdoor areas in your home as well. These are going to be as much a part of your puppy’s environment as the interior of the house. If you have a swimming pool in your outdoor areas, make sure that too is secure. It’s also vitally important that you check for escape routes from your garden or outdoor areas. During its first weeks, your puppy will not know right from wrong. It could easily squeeze its way out of your property and run away.
Make sure everyone knows the rules
It’s vital that your family presents a united front in sharing their home with their new puppy. So you must make sure that everyone knows the timetable and the rules relating to the new arrival. Everyone should know details such as mealtimes and when the puppy needs to be let out to do its toilet. They should also be aware of the boundaries you have set the puppy, i.e. where it is allowed to go and what it is allowed to play with. It is vital that everyone sticks to the same hymn sheet. If a puppy senses a weakness in the discipline you can be certain it will exploit the opportunity!
If you have children, it’s important that they have been taught the importance of respecting their new dog. They need to understand the etiquette of being a dog owner. They need to understand it is not a new toy to be tugged at and pulled around the house. It’s a living, breathing creature.
Make sure you have all the supplies you need for your new puppy
There is a basic list of items that all owners need to have. These include a collar and a leash, for walking and training, complete with a name tag and indestructible chewing toys such as rope toys or ‘chewies’. You also need to have grooming tools, such as a brush and comb, dishes for the dog’s food and water and a comfortable dog crate or bed for it to sleep in.
Give your dog a name
One of the most important things you need to do early on is settle on your dog’s name. It needs to learn to recognize and respond to this name when you begin training, so the sooner you introduce the name the better. One little tip, keep the name simple – if possible one or two syllables. That way you will be able to use it quickly and effectively, something which will be vital when the dog goes out into the dangerous world beyond your four walls.
Travelling home with your puppy
Keep your puppy in a crate or a box while travelling home from the breeder, kennels or animal sanctuary where you acquired the dog. You haven’t begun to train it yet so it will not have any discipline within the car. It could urinate on your seats, eat the upholstery or even jump around distracting you while you drive. Keep it in a warm, box or crate – preferably with a passenger keeping an eye on it and reassuring it that it is safe.
Arriving home with your puppy
An eight week old puppy has spent its life so far within the safety of its family unit, probably with its mother and the siblings within its litter. So it’s no surprise that it will initially be nervous and perhaps even a little anxious about its new environment. It’s your first task to make the dog feel comfortable and safe. So you should give it as much attention and reassurance as you can during its first 24 hours. Show it where it is going to eat, sleep and to do its toileting. If it doesn’t settle down to sleep on the first night, don’t be afraid to place its sleeping box near you. It’s OK for the first night.
Introduce your dog to other pets in the house as soon as you can. Be sure to do this under supervision. If there are other dogs in the house, make sure the existing dogs are on a lead and not able to attack the new dog. It’s quite possible they will feel threatened. Be prepared to deal with this.
Beyond the first days
Once you have all these things under control you can begin looking forward to the next phase of your life with your new puppy. You will soon, for instance, be taking it to the vet for its first vaccinations and examinations. The groundwork you do at home during the first days and weeks will go a long way towards deciding how successful you will be.
Summing up, the arrival of a new dog in your home is a wonderful and memorable time in the life of your family. But it does require preparation and forethought. Without proper planning all sorts of problems can arise. And the longer those problems continue the more difficult it is going to be for you to gain control of your dog. Your mantra should be – start as you mean to go on.
Thank you for reading
Thank you for reading this edition of our newsletter series. We hope this information took you one step closer to making a good decision. If you need a bit more time to think, wait for next week's edition, which will discuss one of the things all parents are concerned about: how to make sure your dog does not bite your children.
If you'd rather have the contents of the series in a single downloadable ebook format, you can get it here.
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