Tis the season for gifting, and if one of your gifts is of the four-legged variety, then you have some preparing to do! Puppies make fun gifts at the holidays, but don’t get swept up in the excitement and forget that furry friends come with a lifetime of responsibility. It is important to prepare yourself--and your home--for the whirlwind of adventure that is soon to come.
Here is your checklist of things to do when you know you’ll be bringing home a new pup.
- Puppy-proof your home. Get down on your puppy’s level and take inventory of the things he’s most likely to get into. Put trash cans behind closed doors, especially bathroom trash cans (puppies love icky tissues) and make sure food containers are tightly closed and/or out of his reach. Consider moving any laundry hampers to the closet or invest in a hamper that has a lid and keep it closed at all times (puppies also like stealing dirty socks, and some will not just steal, but ingest as well!)
- Find a good veterinarian and schedule a wellness check. It’s a good idea to set up interviews with several vets in your area to find the best fit for you. Within a few days of bringing home a new puppy, you should visit your veterinarian for an initial wellness visit. Puppies have weak immune systems and are susceptible to many common illnesses, so having a vet your pup is comfortable with can help keep visits low stress.
- Enroll in pet insurance. Pet insurance can help you afford the highest quality veterinary care for your pup without worrying over the cost. Customizable coverage options allow you to choose the best coverage for your dog for unexpected and routine vet bills.
- Assign responsibilities. While the excitement is high, make a list of all the things that need to be taken care of now that you’ve added a family member to your household. Your new addition will need to be walked, played with, and fed. He will need to be bathed (or taken to the groomer) and taken to the veterinarian. After you make your list, assign the duties to your family members.
- Purchase food and treats. We recommend speaking to the breeder or rescue that you’re getting the dog from to determine what is currently being fed. You should slowly transition your dog from one food to another if you decide to change brands or formulas but ask your vet’s advice on the best food for your dog in terms of his breed and medical history first.
- Sign up for puppy training/socialization classes. Even if you are adopting an older dog, it is important to set aside time for training with you, as his new owner. He needs to learn to take commands from you and to see you as the person in charge. For puppies, socialization is very important in the early days. See our post, How to Socialize Your Dog for more tips.
- Schedule spaying/neutering. The obvious reason for spaying is to avoid unwanted pregnancy, but did you know there is a whole list of ways your dog will benefit when you have him/her neutered/spayed? See our post, Spay/Neuter Awareness Month for more on how spaying or neutering can have a positive impact on your dog’s health and happiness.
- Purchase ID tags or microchip your dog. ID tags will do the trick, but they can slip off your dog’s collar. Microchipping your new dog is an excellent way to ensure that if your dog gets away from you, you will be able to track him down. The procedure to implant the tracking device is quick and painless and will allow any vet or shelter to identify your dog and trace him back to you. PetPartners Wellness Care can help offset the cost of microchipping if you have not taken this important step in ensuring the safety of your pet. I know I rest much easier knowing our dog is forever linked to her family!
Now that you have completed your checklist - all you need is love! Be prepared with plenty of affection to bestow upon your new addition. The above items are important but equally essential is a feeling of belonging that only you can give your new pup. Help him feel at home by giving lots of cuddles and pats, by helping him feel part of the family, and by spending time with him daily. You may even consider making the day you bring your new dog home “Gotcha Day,” and celebrating the special day each year!