Introducing a new dog to your family is an exciting time for everyone. Sure, it’s cute and all that, but have you thought about how much work a puppy actually is?
While they will only be a puppy for a few months, it is vital that this time is happy and healthy so that they can grow into the kind of loving and caring dog you’ve been dreaming about.
If you’ve been considering getting a puppy or if you’re in the process of getting one, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a handful of tips on how to give him or her the best possible start so that your family life together can be a bit better.
It’s the kind of stuff that ensures a loving relationship and not too much mischief, at the end of the day.
#1 Do you have children?
If you haven’t decided on a dog yet, it’s a good idea to take your family into the equation. First of all, you absolutely have to make sure that the breed you’re picking is a good match for your kids; otherwise, you might end up with a puppy that is less than friendly towards shouting and running children.
The first thing you need to think about is how your kid behaves around animals. If they shy away from dogs and have never attempted to approach a cat in their lives, they may not be as interested in taking care of it as they are in the idea of having a pet.
Their friends may have dogs or cats, for example, and it’s typical for kids to want whatever their friends have. Some kids are naturally scared of kids even and if you have noticed this in your own child, getting a pet is not going to cure them of their fright.
Bring them to a dog shelter, to begin with, and let them interact with the dogs there before you make up your mind. Start by introducing them to calm dogs, such as an older dog rather than a puppy, and see if they feel a bit more comfortable around them.
If you really want a dog yourself but feel uncertain since your child seems to be afraid of them, it’s better to let them watch you interact with the dog instead of forcing them to do it. That way, you can set the example of how they should be around the dog – and when they see how comfortable you are, they may be brave enough to step out of their comfort zone.
Consider how responsible your children are
If you’re fairly certain that your kid is happy to be around dogs and cats, it’s time to evaluate their level of maturity. This is only relevant if you plan on giving him or her a fair share of the responsibility, though, so you can definitely look away if you’re sitting with a small toddler who shouldn’t be let out into the free with a dog on a leash.
There are many ways to do this, though, and you should think about how well they handle their regular tasks around the house; if they moan and complain about unloading the dishwasher, they’re certainly going to do so when it’s time to walk the dog.
Another tried-and-tested way to figure out just how mature they are in terms of responsibilities is to see if they remember to brush their teeth without being told. If you constantly need to remind them to do this, chances are that they won’t be that responsible when it comes to taking care of the pet either – and you might be better off waiting another year.
Children who manage their own responsibilities, such as cleaning their room and making their bed, as well as taking care of their own grooming without being told are showing a level of maturity which they can use to participate in taking care of the dog as well.
Does your kid have a lot of energy?
Sure, most parents feel like their kids are bursting with energy – but this tends to cool off at a certain age, though. Think about what your child likes to do in his or her spare time and if they will find walking the dog to be a bit of a chore rather than something fun.
If your child loves to run around in the yard, cycle around the neighbourhood with his or her friends, and generally just being out and about, a dog may be an excellent choice. A dog would love an active owner and an active child will simply love a dog to keep them company on their adventures.
If your child, on the other hand, prefers to stay indoors and you struggle with getting him or her to just walk outside with the trash, it’s not going to be easy to make them walk the dog. Think about a different pet that requires less activity outdoors, for example, as these may be a better fit for your child.
Before you decide on anything final, it’s important to keep in mind that the entire family needs to be ready for a pet. If one of you have allergies, it’s sadly a no go – so make sure that this is something that’s discussed beforehand.
If the whole family doesn’t quite support the idea of pet ownership, it may be better to wait and see if they come around. It is, after all, something that is going to affect everyone.
#2 Bringing the puppy home: One area at a time
When you’ve decided on the right kind of puppy for the family and figured that you’re more than ready for the little bundle of energy, it’s time to get the house and family dynamic ready.
First of all, you need to keep in mind that your puppy won’t think about the house the way you do; it’s far bigger than he is and, as long as he keeps his sleeping area clean, he doesn’t care what the rest looks like.
Introduce him to one room at a time and considering fencing the rest of the house off for a while. That way, you won’t risk that your puppy starts to use the bathroom floor as his toilet any time soon.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, if his crate is still quite big compared to his size, he might decide that he can easily pee in one corner of it and sleep in the other. If you’d like to have a big crate that he can grow into, you need to be vigilant about taking him out first thing in the morning; otherwise, you risk waking up to a terrible smell.
Keep the puppy clean but not too clean
When you get a new puppy, you might be surprised at how much they enjoy being dirty. He will stick their nose into everything and you might even get a few dead surprises after a while which he decided was a good idea to chew on.
While you will need to ensure that he has received his tick and flea treatments as well as a deworming pill, you can’t keep those ants from crawling into his fur.
This doesn’t mean that you should give him too many baths, though, even if it’s tempting to soap off whatever he decides to roll around in. Too much washing might make his sensitive skin itchy so stick to a bath or two per month and wipe his paws off with a cloth instead.
If you want to have him or her sleeping in your bed, this is definitely something to think about as you don’t want those ants to end up in your bed. Have a look at this article on sleeping with your pet for some more information in case you’re on the fence about the sleeping arrangements.
Remember to give him or her plenty of exercise
Puppies have a lot of energy and, if you notice that he is running around, barking, mouthing, and causing general mayhem around your house, you might want to give him a bit more exercise.
Keep in mind, however, that you shouldn’t introduce him to the world outside your garden before he has all of his vaccinations; puppies immune systems are fragile and you never know what another dog’s or cat’s poop might carry.
At least one hour of exercise per day should be sufficient to get all of his puppy energy out in a healthy way. Stretch it out over the day, play some fetch, let him chase a toy in the garden, and keep in mind that mental stimulation is also vital for him at this point.
As long as you keep the training consistent, remember that your dog is still very much like a child, and stay patient throughout their mischievous phase, you’ll definitely get along splendidly.
Keep all of this up, and you’ll end up with a puppy as well as a home that is both happy and healthy.