Everybody loves puppies. With those adorable faces and irresistible eyes it’s kind of hard not to. But loving a puppy and being ready to take on the responsibility of one are two very different things. The truth is very few of us look beyond those cute lovable eyes and imagine a world with an adult dog. Rather we happily picture a fun filled world with that puppy.
While spending quality time just enjoying your new pet is important there are three areas every new dog owner needs to consider before getting a new puppy.
1: It’s A Lifetime Commitment
Your new puppy is only going to remain small and cuddly for a very short period of time. Soon after coming home he will start growing and exploring with a confidence you didn’t know existed. Sadly this is about the time many new puppy owners lose their enthusiasm for their new dog and start questioning if they had made the right decision.
When you are staring at that adorable puppy in the face it’s important to consider the following:
• The average life expectancy of large breed dogs is 15 years and small breed up to 20 years
• Even if you are diligent in your preventative care your dog will get sick at least once (likely more) unexpectedly and require a trip to the ER
• Annual vet care (more often during the first 6 months) is vital to a healthy pup
• Your new dog will need to be spayed or neutered
• Every good mannered dog has some level of training so you’re going to want to invest in training
When you think you are ready to bring home that new puppy it’s a good idea to sit down and really think through the lifetime commitment of 15+ years that will follow.
2: You Can Start Off Wrong
A common belief is that a puppy is just that, a puppy and should be protected, coddled and tolerated. But this mindset will cause more harm than good. Consider a puppy’s life before they are separated from mom. They look to mom for guidance, protection and expectations for life. Mom leads by example, protects only when her baby is in danger and corrects them for making mistakes.
Once that puppy leaves their mother they are seeking the next role model and you are the lucky winner. From your first encounter your new puppy is looking to you for that same guidance and discipline he received from mom. If you take advantage of this and put a few techniques in place you’ll be steps ahead in obedience and formal training.
The most important thing to remember is that every interaction is a training opportunity so plan them well. If you don’t want your dog to jump on you when you come in the room start now by preventing the habit from starting simply by placing your hand on his chest and gently applying pressure if he tries to jump. Coupled with a simple command of “no jump” your puppy will soon learn that behavior is not accepted.
You can find a variety of online dog training tips that will assist you with setting limits and enforcing rules from the very first day you bring your puppy home. Just remember that he expects you to set rules and will learn best if you follow through on a daily basis.
3: Rules and Expectations are Easiest Taught During the First Week
Truth be told most of us want nothing more than to dote on our new furry baby endlessly those first few days. But those first few days are perhaps the most crucial in setting limits and preventing unwanted behaviors in the long run.
During the first week your puppy is studying his surroundings and making mental notes on what he is and isn’t allowed to do. To make sure you get the most out of your first week consider the following tips:
• Before you bring your puppy home sit down as a family to discuss the rules. Decide which rooms your puppy will be allowed in, where he will sleep, rules about furniture and play and anything else you can think of.
• Set up a confined area using either a puppy fence or a crate that is centrally located to all the normal family activity.
• Decide on a schedule for meals, play, potty breaks and quiet time. Where possible delegate some of these routines to other family members to lighten the load on any one person.
• Prepare yourself and the rest of the family mentally to ignore all whining during those first few days. If you set up a routine and stick to it, your puppy’s needs of food, attention and potty breaks will be met.
During this first week all your efforts are in preparation for dog training your puppy after he reaches 12 weeks of age. If done properly you’ll set a foundation for fast obedience and a motivation to learn formal commands.
If you approach your decision of bringing home a new puppy with these three tips at the forefront of your decision you’ll never regret it and your puppy will grow to be a loyal and obedient companion.
Mikki Hogan lives in North Carolina with her family and dogs. Active in animal rescue she uses her talents as a dog trainer to prepare dogs for their forever homes and offers resources online for the everyday dog owner.