Dani has experience bringing a puppy home and offers advice for a smooth transition.
Puppies are so adorable. They have big, wide eyes, and they readily show love and affection, instantly making your heart melt. But getting a puppy is a big commitment, so before deciding to welcome one into your life, make sure you're ready. Here's are a few things you should know before taking the plunge. (For more about how my dog Bear came into my life, scroll to the bottom.)
1. Find Out Which Breeds You Are Allowed to Have
If you own your home, this step may not be as important, unless you are a part of an HOA (home owner's association). If you are a part of an HOA, you may want to check and see if they have any rules about the type of dogs you are allowed to have. If you live in an apartment, this step is ESSENTIAL before you start looking for a puppy. This was something that I learned the hard way.
After I adopted Bear, I found out that my current landlord doesn't allow Chows, therefore we have to move. For us, it was okay because we wanted a bigger apartment anyway, but if you don't want to move, make sure you get a breed that is allowed.
Some places restrict the size of dogs that you are allowed to have. You must research different breeds to find out how big a puppy will become as an adult. With mixed breeds, it can be a toss-up sometimes, unless the puppy is mixed with two large dogs or two small dogs, so make sure you ask questions about how big a puppy will grow before you adopt him.
Other concerns that you need to be aware of are breed bans from your municipality and insurance company. There are also noise ordinances in some places, which is especially important if you plan to keep your puppy outside when he grows up.
2. Figure Out Which Breeds Suit Your Lifestyle
Before jumping into which breed suits your lifestyle, it is important to assess if having a dog at all is good for your lifestyle. For example, after we adopted Bear, I found out that Chow Chows are not good with children at all. Thankfully, we don't have kids, but my husband's nieces and nephews come over to visit sometimes. Bear does not like them at all! He often tries to control them and limit which rooms they can go in. We have to really keep Bear in check when they come over.
Are you financially ready for a dog?
First, determine if you are financially ready for a dog. You must be prepared for regular veterinarian care, costs of dog food, supplies and toys, and determining if all the members of your family are willing to share the responsibility of having a pet. Once you have a green light for these things, then you can begin to determine which breed is right for you.
Can you give a dog the attention it needs?
Next, research different characteristics of dogs. Different breeds of dog have different characteristics that may or may not suit your lifestyle. For example, one of the most important characteristics to pay attention to is the breed's need for attention. If you have a very busy lifestyle, you will want a dog that is independent and doesn't need a lot of attention.
An English Bulldog, for example, is a spoiled and attention-needy dog. They get severely attached to their human and want to spend as much time with you as possible. If you ignore them, they will show how hurt their feelings are, and it might be hard to get back on their good side.
Another example is if you live in an apartment complex, dogs like border collies or other high-energy dogs would not be good unless you have a dog park that they can run in. Otherwise, they'll redirect that energy into destruction and tear up things in your home.
3. Figure Out Where to Get Your Dog
Many animal shelters have beautiful puppies and dogs for adoption who need good homes. A lot of them will already have given the puppies vaccinations, worm treatments, spay/neutering services, and may possibly even give you supplies. They will charge an adoption fee, which could be up to a few hundred dollars, depending on the shelter and the services they provide. Most shelters are reputable, but it is still important to do some research on them. Checking news articles and reviews can be helpful.
If you decide to get a puppy from a person, a breeder, or a pet shop, it is very important to do research on them. Make sure that your puppy did not come from a puppy mill, because dogs that come from these mills are not properly socialized and could have behavioral problems down the road. If you are getting a puppy from a person or a breeder, make sure that you are able to see the mom that the puppy comes from. If the mom is scared, shy, or aggressive, don't get that puppy.
4. Get Some Supplies Ahead of Time
You may want to get some of your supplies before you bring your new puppy home. I recommend getting things like dog crates and/or pet beds or anything that needs to be assembled beforehand. This way, when your puppy gets home, you can immediately begin the training process instead of fumbling with construction.
It is important to have a leash and collar before you get your puppy, especially if your puppy is older and runs around a lot. You don't want to have to begin your relationship by having to chase your puppy around a parking lot. I would also recommend puppy pads or a blanket for the ride home. Your new puppy may not be used to cars and could possibly become car sick.
Other supplies can be bought either before you get the puppy or after you get the puppy. Many pet supply stores allow you to bring your pets in with you while you shop. This comes in handy because you can wait until you get your puppy to make sure you get the right type of food, the right sized dishes, etc. You also get to show off your new puppy.
Finally, don't forget to buy a dog tag and put your contact information on it. This is so important in case your puppy gets lost. Microchips are another great option (still get a dog tag even if you get the microchip) and they are relatively inexpensive.
5. Enjoy Your New Puppy!
Now that you've gone through the checklist, and hopefully acquired the puppy of your dreams, enjoy the newest addition to your family. Make him or her feel warm and welcome, and begin the bonding process right away. As long as you set the boundaries for your new puppy immediately, you two will have a long and happy relationship.
My Story: I Wasn't Planning on Getting a Puppy
I'm a vendor at a local flea market, and the vendor that opens beside me each weekend is involved in rescuing abused animals. Someone dropped a puppy off to her one day—they found him in a dumpster. The minute I saw the puppy, I fell in love. He was so beautiful—a four-month-old Chow Chow mixed with a Labrador (often referred to as a Chabrador). He had beautiful, fluffy hair and despite what he'd been through, he was very friendly.
I told the lady that I had to have him. I didn't think about whether or not he had shots, worms, or the fact that I lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment, had absolutely no dog supplies, and had no idea how to care for a puppy. I just knew that he had to be a part of my family.
The first few days were challenging. The puppy had to get used to my husband and me and we had to get used to him. Finding a vet wasn't challenging because there are a ton of them in my city, but we found one, Elam Animal Hospital, that had a "puppy package" for $200 listed on their website that included everything he needed as far as vaccines, de-worming, etc. Since they had this simple, all-in-one price, and they had it listed up front, we went for it.
We also bought some supplies such as a collar and leash, dog bowl, dog bed, and of course, food and toys. The collar, leash, bed, and dog bowl quickly became too small (we didn't realize how fast Chabradors grow!).
Now here we are two months later, and our puppy, who we named Bear, is well-adjusted. We are moving to a bigger apartment so that Bear can have more space to run around, and we constantly research information about dogs in general and Chabradors specifically so that we can give him the care that he needs.
In our case, we didn't use a checklist first because of the circumstances in which we acquired our puppy. However, using a checklist and doing research before getting a puppy (or any pet) will really help you to sort things out before diving in.
© 2016 Dani Alicia
Margarida Borges from Lyon, France on September 28, 2016:
I love dogs and I always had them when living with my mother, but it's difficult to have one if you're changing from one country to another a lots of times. Now I have a cat because it's much easier to let him with someone else.
Locating a Puppy
Finding a puppy is not as simple as going to a search engine and keying in puppies for sale. You must find your puppy from a responsible breeder, and one with certificates and documents to verify that they legitimately came across the puppy. The illegal puppy trade thrives with animals who are stolen and sold on to new owners. That is why you must always opt for ethical breeders and those trusted by regulatory dog breeding authorities. Another thing to consider according to the professional dog rehomers from yourpuppyfl.com is that you must find a puppy that best fits your home and one that suits your lifestyle. Some puppies need extra care, so you must know what breed to look for and how to take care of it.
New Puppy Checklist: 40 Things To Buy When Bringing a Puppy Home
Bringing a puppy home is an exciting time. I doubt you will even get much sleep the first day. It can be the good kind of exciting if you are prepared, or the bad kind of exciting if you are not.
To ensure the best possible start for you and your pup, a little bit of prep work is required which is why we made this new puppy checklist for you to reference and know what to buy a new puppy before bringing it home.
8 Essential Steps To Bringing A New Dog Into The Home
Bringing a new dog into your pack requires planning. Luckily, this is something that most people do—except maybe in the case of bringing in a stray off the street. Before you adopt the dog, you probably have at least a food and treats, bowls for food and water, a dog bed, a leash and collar, and maybe some toys.
If you’ve been very conscientious, you’ve probably already arranged for the first vet appointment, and maybe you’ve even talked to the entire household to establish rules about the dog like who does the feeding and walking, where the dog is and isn’t allowed, and so on.
The big day comes when you pick up the dog. Everybody is excited and happy as you drive home, and you all come bounding up the walk, throw open the front door and let the dog off-leash and inside…
And you’ve just planted the seed for a lot of future issues. In human terms, you’ve unleashed a juvenile delinquent.
Home sweet home
In order to have a well-balanced dog, we have to teach her the house rules, and set boundaries and limitations from the get-go. The message you send your dog the moment she enters your home for the first time is critical, because it immediately establishes the ground rules in your dog’s mind. If you just let her run in the door, the message is, “Here! Everything is yours, and you can do whatever you want.”
By opening that door, you have told your dog, “There are no rules, boundaries or limitations.” You know where that goes: She eats shoes, won’t be housebroken, constantly begs, climbs on the furniture, jumps on people… And then you visit my website, trying to find out what is “wrong” with your new dog!
The process of bringing your new dog into the home for the first time should be very deliberate and specific. Here are the eight essential steps:
1. Remain calm
When you pick the dog up, everyone must remain calm. It can be tempting to greet the new family member with excitement, but this is not the time to do it. Accept the dog into your space, but do not give more than a minimum of attention or affection yet. You’re about to remove the dog from a place that’s become familiar and take her to somewhere entirely new. And remember: This step must remain in effect through the entire process.
2. Take a long walk
When you get home, keep your dog on the leash, because you’re now going to go on a long walk through her new neighborhood. This serves two purposes: It will help drain her excess energy and bring her to a calm state, and it will get her used to the new smells, sights, and sounds.
3. Introduce your home
After the walk, keep your dog on the leash for a proper introduction to the new pack den—your house, apartment, condo, etc. Bring the dog to the front door, but do not let her enter first. If you can, get her to sit or lie down as you open the door. Then, you enter first, not allowing her to follow until you invite her in.
4. Take the tour
Once inside, keep your dog on the leash and lead her from room to room. Do not let her sniff or wander around. Use the leash to keep her at your side. Spend a few minutes in each room before moving on to the next, and make sure each time you go first into the next room. Every door is an opportunity to establish your leadership, you go first, the dog waits your invitation to enter or exit. Be consistent! Do not let the dog follow you into the next room until you give permission. If you have a backyard, patio, or other outside area, treat it the same way.
5. No touch, no talk, no eye contact
During the tour, don’t speak and use only body language or simple sounds, like “Tsch!” or a finger snap, to communicate or correct. Your dog is overwhelmed right now, so the less stimulation, the better. This will help keep her focused on you.
6. The feeding area
Once you’ve completed the tour, bring the dog to the place where the food and water will be and offer a reward with some water and a few bits of food, but not a whole bowl yet your dog is still on her leash, remember?
7. The dog’s bedroom
Likewise, if you have a special place you’d like the dog to stay when she needs to be out of the way of household activities, take her there. This is where you can finally let her off-leash. That place can be where her bed is, or a spot in the corner of the living room where you want her to lie, or her crate. By letting her off the leash here, you are telling her, “This is yours.” Don’t be surprised if she immediately decides to settle down and ignore the family for a while. This doesn’t mean she hates her new home. It means that she has found her place in it.
8. Exude calm-assertive energy
Once you’ve completed the above process, establish yourself as the Pack Leader by going through the rest of your day exuding calm-assertive energy. Everyone in the household should ignore the dog. You can acknowledge the dog if she joins you, of course, but don’t go overboard with affection yet. Just as you’re still getting used to her in the house, she’s getting used to being in her new house. You’ve gone a long way already toward teaching her that this is your territory and you make the rules. Now, she’s going to observe so she can figure out what the rules are, and who’s who in her new pack.
If you’ve gone through these eight steps, you will have claimed your territory, allowed your dog into it, and established who the Pack Leaders are.
Introducing Your Puppy to Other Dogs & Cats
It’s a good idea to introduce your puppy to other pets at a young age. Protect his new furry friends by keeping your puppy on his leash during introductions. If he misbehaves, look him in the eye and say “No.”
When introducing your puppy to a dog, try to have them meet outside while both are leashed. This allows them to sniff one another without immediately bringing up territorial or protective disputes.
When introducing your puppy to a cat, try putting one pet in a confined room so they can smell each other under the door before meeting. Letting them acclimate to one another’s smell first and foremost can make the process calmer for both pets.
Bringing home a new puppy is exciting. Following the above tips helps ensure everyone is safe and comfortable during this time of transition. Get more tips from our experts on our Pet Expertise page.