If you are thinking about bringing a dog into your family it can be absolutely overwhelming – and that is before your new friend steps one paw inside. Here is a checklist of a few things you may not have thought of to have in place before you bring Puppy home:
- Books – you may think you know how to raise a puppy into a well-behaved, happy dog but a little extra research never hurts. The best comprehensive book for new puppy owners is Puppy’s First Steps by the Faculty at Tufts University Vet School. Another favorite of mine is Perfect Puppy in 7 Days by Dr. Sophia Yin. This is a fun read with lots of pictures and step-by-step instructions. Finally my new favorite book on dogs is the just released Decoding Your Dog by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. I think that ALL dog owners should read this book to help strengthen the relationship between you and your dog.
- A crate – In addition to the actual crate, you also need an understanding of how crate training works and why it is so important to housetraining your new dog. You want a crate that is small enough so your dog can’t sleep in one corner and eliminate in another. If your puppy is going to grow the crate will often come with a divider to help customize the size. You also want a cozy bed to go into the crate to keep Puppy comfortable.
- A plan – The first three months of a dog’s life are called the critical socialization period. This is where sociability outweighs fear and is the best time to get your puppy to adapt to new people, places and other dogs. If puppies are not properly socialized this can lead to behavior problems down the road. You don’t want to head off to the dog park as you won’t know the health status of the dogs there and your puppy could be exposed to dangerous diseases and icky parasites. Instead, find a puppy class to attend as soon as you can to help get your dog started off on the right paw. For more information on this please read the AVSAB Position Statement.
- Puppy food – You need a food that is designed for growing puppies. If you have a large breed puppy it is important to feed a large breed puppy food to ensure that the balance of nutrients is appropriate. Many of the dog foods out there are actually dangerous, with super high protein levels and calcium phosphorus ratios that result in rapid bone growth. When Puppy’s bones grow faster than they should, joint development is altered resulting in arthritis down the road.
- Toys – This is the fun part! Puppy should have a variety of toys to satisfy his need to chew as well as stimulate his mind. A Kong is essential for any dog as it is the only toy I would feel comfortable leaving alone with puppy in the crate. Plush toys and those made of softer rubber can be easily chewed up and swallowed resulting in an intestinal obstruction. You want to stuff the Kong with tasty treats and put it in the crate with puppy when you leave so he will associate the crate with happy things. When you are home and can supervise Puppy’s playing my favorite toys are those that make him think a bit. Two of the best are the BusyBuddy Waggle or Starmark Treat Dispensing Chew Ball.
Interested in more puppy information? Visit www.politepuppy.com for all your puppy questions.