Springtime is just around the corner and thoughts of getting a puppy fill our imaginations once again. Before you take the leap into the wonderful and wild side of living with a puppy, consider taking these two important actions to ensure that bringing puppy home is a joyful experience for you, your family and your new doggie.
Step 1: Find a Trusted Veterinarian
If you do not have a trusted veterinarian, it's time to find one (ask your family and friends for a recommendation)! Here are some tips for your first visit to the vet, known as a "well-puppy" visit:
- Schedule the well-puppy visit with the vet within 48 hours so you have a baseline health record for the pup. Introducing yourself and your puppy to a new vet will give you peace of mind about any future concerns.
- This visit is the perfect time to ask your veterinarian questions about his or her vaccine protocols, his opinion on dog foods and supplements. It’s a good idea to make a list of your questions so you remember them.
- The first visit to the vet with a new puppy is very exciting for the puppy and family. So be prepared, write your questions down. Your vet will happily answer your concerns. Most vets enjoy meeting a new family and puppy. After all, they get a kick out of celebrating and welcoming a new life and friends to their practice.
Step 2: Remember You've Adopted a Puppy!
I named this blog post Surviving Puppyhood for a reason. As cute and wonderful as puppies are, they are a handful and require special handling skills by their people!
Here are some tips for surviving puppyhood:
- Puppies have a short attention span. They move from moment to moment exploring and learning as they go. This exploration phase is extremely important for building confidence in a new puppy. Encourage your pup to explore his environment within a controlled space where you can keep an eye on him.
- Puppy proof your home, move all electrical wires out of the way of your curious pup, keep an eye on low-lying shelves in your kitchen where cook books or curios may be displayed. It is also helpful to pick up carpets in the area where your pup will spend most of her time while you housetrain your new bundle of fur. Keep shoes up and off the floor away from your puppy who will grab a shoe and head off challenging a family member to a game of “keep away”.
When you understand that puppies investigate their worlds using their mouths as a means of learning, it becomes easier to be patient, understanding and kind. You have further decreased your stress by removing what is necessary to keep the puppy safe in your home and yourself more relaxed by puppy proofing the space.
There is an urban legend that new puppy owners should wait until 6 months to begin to train their puppy. This is not true. Puppies as young as 13 or 14 weeks enjoy learning and pleasing their families. It is important not to struggle with the relationship. Help is available, so free up your energy, enjoy your puppy and get started building a strong, mutually respectful relationship early on.
Cheers! Mary Ellen