You’ve made the decision to get a puppy, yay! But where do you start?
There are many things to consider before you get your puppy, I am going to outline some of them here:
It's time to decide on the breed. It is important that you go with a breed that is suited to you and your family.
Are you super active, or more of a stroller? How big is your home? Do you have young children? Do you have any other pets? Are you physically able to handle a big dog, or would you be more suited to a smaller breed? Are you willing and able to put in the training time with your puppy so that they grow up confident and well socialised?
Once you have some ideas of breeds, do your research!
What are their specific needs? Are there potential health issues associating with that breed? What is their temperament like?
Fab, you’ve decided on the breed, what's next?
You could get in touch with local rescues to see whether they have any litters or pups for rehoming, and check out what their restrictions are (for example some will not allow adoptions if you have young children, or other pets)
If adoption isn't for you, then you need to find a good breeder.
A good breeder will take good care of the parent dogs, and their puppies. They will feed them a good diet, get regular vet checks, and keep their living area clean.
A good breeder will understand how important socialisation is, and that the pups need to be exposed to all sorts of sights, sounds, smells and textures within the critical socialisation period (approx 3 - 13 weeks of age). They will also be letting them spend time with older dogs so they learn appropriate social play. Basically, what happens in the breeders home, can shape that pups life. So avoid puppy farms because they do not care about the pups, just about the money.
After your breeder has put so much work into giving your pup a good start you need to be prepared to be able to continue at home. Here are things you need to be considering BEFORE your bring puppy home.
Where is puppy going to sleep?
You need to be prepared to either have the puppy in your bedroom, or sleep downstairs with your puppy for the first few weeks until they are completely settled through the night. If you do not plan to have your puppy sleeping in your room for ever, don’t worry, you can slowly move their bed/crate out of your room, then onto the landing, then downstairs. This settling in stage is so important. It is within their critical socialisation period, also at 8-10 weeks this is when your pup experiences the most stress, and their stress hormones are highest. They are taken from everything they know, their mum and their litter mates. They need as much support as possible so that they can feel secure and adjust well to their new home. Not doing this properly can lead to separation issues and related behaviours appearing.
Your puppy also needs a quiet place to sleep during the day. Pups need about 19 hours of sleep a day, otherwise their behaviour will be affected. For more info check out my talk on Puppy Sleep.
What are you going to feed your puppy?
Diet is so important for your puppy's growth and mental development. Diet can also have a huge impact on their behaviour. So do your research and go for a nutritious food. You can check out brands here: www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk I would be looking for something with an 85% rating or more.
First time puppy guardian? Or maybe it's been a while since you've been a dog guardian? A lot has changed with regards to puppy training so even if you have had a dog before it’s a good idea to engage a dog trainer early on, to help you navigate your way through the first few months and prepare you for adolescence! Good trainers will be booking a couple of months ahead, at least, so as soon as you have decided on your puppy, get in touch too book visits and/or classes. Your trainer can also help you decide on a breed and may even be able to point you in the direction of a responsible breeder, so its never to early to get in touch with them. You are looking for a trainer that uses science and reward based training methods. If they start mentioning dominance or pack theory, or punishing pups avoid, avoid, avoid!! You can check out websites such as Dog Training Collage (DTC), Pet Professional Network (PPN), Pet Professional Guild British Isles (PPGBi), Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT) when looking for a trainer.
Registering at a Vet
Where is your local vet practice? Do they have 24 hours cover? Do they have health plans? Register your puppy, book their vaccinations (and micro chipping if the breeder has not already carried this out).
Vet bills can be expensive, so it is important to set up your insurance before you bring puppy home.
Buy Good Natural Chews
Pups like to chew, a lot! So be prepared, and buy in the chews ready for their arrival. Avoid raw hide, as they are full of chemicals and pose a choke hazard.
Instead go for natural chews, for example, Deer antler, buffalo horn, yak bars, whimzees.
Young pups aren’t going out on walks until they have had their vaccinations, so we need to provide mental stimulation to use up that energy and prevent them making their own fun and mischief! There are lots of different activities out there to get your pups brain working. Check out my talk on Canine Enrichment for more info.
Introducing Your Puppy to Your Children
Before puppy comes home, take a blanket or item of clothing that smells of your children to the breeders, in a zip lock back to keep their smell fresh. The breeder can introduce the smell to your puppy on a number of occasions and build a positive association. Once home, you will need to take things slowly. Never let your child grab your puppy, or sit on your puppy, or be alone with them.
Introducing Your Pets to Your Puppy
Scent swapping is important to do before your puppy comes home. So take a towel and rub it on your pet, and put in a zip lock back to take to the breeders. Bring home a towel that has your pups scent on, and introduce it to your pets, and start to build a positive association to the smell.
When your pup comes home to you, you may still have a couple of weeks left of their critical socialisation period, so its important you continue with this when your pup comes home. Check out my talk on Puppy Socialisation for more info.
If you are considering getting a puppy, or you are due to bring one home, and would some advice on how to prepare, and what to expect, why not get in touch to have a chat and arrange a pre puppy consultation. More info can be found here: https://www.therewardingdogtrainer.co.uk/puppy-school
Becoming a dog guardian is amazing, they provide us with so much unconditional love and emotional support, but it isn't easy, you will have your ups and downs! However, with the right support and a great start, you can set you and your puppy up for success!
Thanks for reading,
Helping Your Puppy Grow The Positive Way