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5 Things to Know Before Owning a Puppy

Are you ready for a new puppy? You’ve picked a name and loaded the kibble in the pantry and now can’t wait for puppy to come home. After all, it’s so cute and cuddly. But did you also know it can poop in the house, cost money, and shed all over everything? Here are six things you absolutely have to know before owning a puppy.

Owning a Puppy Means More Patience

Case in point: When Maria brought her 12-week-old boxer home from the breeder, it threw up twice in her car and pooped three times on her oriental carpet. Typical, say experts, who recommend preventing this and other first-day calamities by:

  • Bringing somebody with you to hold the puppy for the ride home from the breeder or shelter. It’s dangerous for a new puppy to roam loose in the car. Also, puppies almost always get sick on their first few rides, so bring a couple of old towels as well.
  • Introducing the dog to each room at home on leash. The point is to do it in a controlled way so the dog isn’t running crazy. Avoid those rooms that are off limits.
  • Making sure your new puppy has a quiet place to sleep — and not your bed. “I prefer a crate, but you can also find a quiet, but not isolated, spot in the house,” said Gajkowski.
  • Preparing to take the puppy out to do its business every hour or two. If it doesn’t go, take it out again 10-15 minutes later.

Owning a Puppy Means Fostering Positive Habits

Owning a puppy is a lot more than just playing with your new pup (even if that’s the best part):

  • Waiting an hour before offering food to your new puppy. It needs some time to adjust to the new environment.
  • Exhausting the puppy with play and potty breaks before bedtime. “It’s normal to hear some crying and whining when you leave it alone,” said Gajkowski. “If it doesn’t settle after an hour, take it out again.”
  • Taking it to the veterinarian. Preferably, do it the next day to make sure your puppy is healthy.

Owning a Puppy Costs Money

Be prepared to spend money on bills beyond just what you’ve paid the breeder or the rescue, when owning a puppy. That includes costs for:

  • Medical: Expect to pay for the normal course of vaccinations, along with deworming medication and blood and fecal tests unless your dog is unhealthy, in which case costs could skyrocket. (In fact, this is a good time to look into pet insurance.)
  • Lifestyle: Food, equipment (eg, a crate, bed, bowls, toys, dental products, treats, leads, collars, etc), pet sitting, grooming, and other services.
  • Training and socialization: Puppy classes and one-on-one training.

Owning a Puppy Means Training

If puppies aren’t socialized — or exposed to people, pets, and situations in a safe and controlled manner — they can become overly aggressive, shy, or insecure later in life.

To prevent these and other problems, when first getting your puppy, help him/her socialize by:

  • Enrolling it in puppy classes that combine obedience with play. Keep in mind, however, that most won’t accept your pup until it’s fully vaccinated (usually at about 16 weeks of age).
  • Setting up play dates with neighbours, friends and other animals.
  • Involving the puppy in your daily activities (eg, walking, shopping and even working if possible).

Owning a Puppy Means Constant Interaction

New puppy owners should know that all puppies need physical and mental stimulation, Gajkowski said. “You can’t just stick it in the backyard and expect it’ll keep itself entertained.” Instead, he recommends spending three to four hours a day engaged in play and exercise with your new puppy to show you care.