In my previous life as a farmer, in addition to my conservation work in breeding rare farm animals, we also bred champion show dogs.
My partner was the genetics expert, so he focused on making sure the dogs we bred had enough genetic diversity to be healthy, intelligent, and long-lived.
My focus was on posture. I loved taking care of newborn puppies. I loved all of the work that went into making sure our pups were raised well socialized, fearless, and balanced so that those we would have back home would make wonderful lifelong companions to some happy families.
Because I put so much time and effort into making sure my pups were well socialized and behaviorally healthy, my relationship with them never really ended when I brought them into loving homes. Especially in the first few months, I kept in touch with my adoptive parents to provide tips and advice on getting started with their new family member.
Now, years later, I still get emails with photos and updates on how they are doing – and I feel like a very proud dad!
Nowadays, more and more people seem to be open to adopting puppies. It makes sense because so many people work from home more often and have the bandwidth to deal with the excitement and responsibility that a new puppy brings into a home.
When you are thinking about giving your heart and home to a new puppy, there are a few things you need to know in order to be successful in the first few weeks and months of this new relationship. And I’m here to help!
Puppy safe your home
Before you take your cute little ball of fur home with you, you need to make sure that your home is as safe as possible for both your new pup and your belongings. The puppy protection process is similar to protecting a home from toddlers, but there are differences.
First, get an idea of the puppy perspective of your home. Electrical cables, potential toxins, and fragile items should be kept completely out of reach. Keep in mind that your puppy can jump, climb, chew, and scratch, so put whatever you can very high up or in a locked closet.
If necessary, install sturdy baby or pet guards to keep your puppy away from certain rooms in your home. It’s a good idea to keep your dog away from the kitchen (especially the trash can) and stairs.
Buy the essentials
Your new puppy will need certain things to start with. Some are essential to your pup’s wellbeing while others are very helpful. The most important items include a leash and collar with identification, food and water bowls, and chew toys. You should also get yourself a comfortable dog bed, and preferably a crate or kennel.
Some of these items can outlast as your puppy ages, but many of them will need to be replaced as your puppy grows. Collars can be adjustable to a certain point. A kennel can be purchased in a larger size for the future, but should be closed with boxes or other items so that it is the correct size for the pup.
It is also important to properly prepare for the costs associated with dog ownership. Make a budget and try to stick to it. Be sure to allow extra money in your budget for unexpected costs.
Choose quality foods
Your puppy’s diet can make all the difference to their future health and wellbeing. Before you decide on a puppy food, do your research. Talk to your veterinarian, other animal professionals, and other dog owners. Remember that if the food you have chosen does not quite suit your pup, you can gradually switch to a different food.
In today’s dog-friendly world, the choices in diet seem endless. Some owners like to feed premium foods, while many feel that a holistic / natural diet is best. Home cooking and raw food are also becoming increasingly popular. I do the latter for my dogs and have had the best luck with it. But it’s quite time consuming, so if you decide to prepare the meal for your pup, be ready to focus on the time.
Make sure you choose a food that is suitable for growth – not adult dog foods or “grooming” formulas. They grow a lot in the first year of life, so they need a lot of protein.
Choose a veterinarian
Within a few days of taking your new puppy home, you should take him to your veterinarian for a general exam.
You will see a lot of your veterinarian over the course of your puppy’s first six months. This starts with puppy vaccinations and usually leads to neutering or neutering. Typically, puppies should be spayed or neutered around six months of age.
Your veterinarian can help you identify potential health problems early on and advise you on long-term care for your dog. The first visit also opens the doors to communication with you and your veterinarian. To keep your pup’s expenses down, you can get pet health insurance that can cover up to 80% of your dog’s health care costs.
Vaccines are good. Grab them.
Vaccines protect your puppy and other dogs from potentially fatal diseases. Just like human babies, puppies (and kittens) need basic immunizations in order to take over when maternal antibodies wear off. The puppy vaccination series is one of the most important aspects of your dog’s early life.
Routine vaccination visits also allow your veterinarian to see your puppy every few weeks and monitor his or her growth and general health. Talk to your veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your puppy.
House training is one of the first things you teach your new pup. This process can be quite frustrating at times, although some puppies catch earlier than others.
House training should begin as soon as you bring your puppy home, but it takes patience. Puppies are usually unable to control their bladder and bowels until they are around 12 weeks old. If your pup is younger just be patient.
Starting early can help get your pup into a routine. By the time your dog grows and develops control over his body functions, he will already know what to do. In general, you should bring your puppy to the designated “potty place” immediately after eating or drinking. However, accidents do happen, so be prepared, consistent, and patient.
Connect with your pup
The bond you have with your pup starts the moment he walks into your life and never stops growing. You can cultivate this bond through affection, exercise, grooming, play time, general exercise, and participation in various activities. You may want to take an obedience class, begin training in canine sports like agility and flyball, or attend dog shows.
And don’t forget, we’re here to help. We offer really great virtual puppy courses. Our five-session online course is for puppies six months or younger. Topics include nibbling and biting, potty training, teaching your puppy to come when called, and more! Work items include a live Q&A session hosted by your trainer following each weekly presentation.
Please register on our website at pasadenahumane.org.
Jack Hagerman is vice president of community relations for the Pasadena Humane Society.