Bringing a puppy home is such an exciting experience. For those of you who have had dogs in the past, you know the light a happy, explorative puppy brings into your home. For those of you who are bringing one home for the first time, you will see how owning a dog really makes your house into a home.
Regardless if this is your first dog or your fifth, it is always nice to make sure you have prepared your home properly for your new arrival. In this article, we will talk about how to prepare for your new puppy. Give it a read, and if you can think of other things you found important during this exciting time, give us a shout!
Create A Puppy Safe Zone
Puppies are very explorative, so it is a great idea to start out with a puppy safe zone. Dedicate one area of your home, big or small, to make sure that area is clean and safe for your new addition.
The reality is, you cannot have your attention on the puppy at all hours of the day (as much as we would all want that to be our lives). Even a quick trip to the bathroom could be an unknown problem that a puppy safe zone solves.
If you don’t have much space, a playpen works great as well!
Lock Your Cabinets
As you will find out, puppies are big explorers. They will open anything with their little noses to see what is on the other side. Locking your cabinets will give you peace of mind that they will not get into any dangerous chemicals or other things toxic to dogs.
An alternative to locking cabinets would be to remove all dangerous chemicals and choking hazards from lower cabinets your dog can reach. This way, even if they made their way in, you know there is nothing in that cabinet that can harm them.
Pick Things Up Off The Floor
Making sure the floor is a safe place for your puppy is crucial, considering their explorative nature. This becomes quite the habit when owning a dog, or even when going to a new home. Your eyes simply scan faster to see if there is anything harmful down there.
One of the most important things would be to make sure there are no stray pills or medicines on the floor. A small pill that gets lost under a cabinet can do a lot of damage depending on what it is.
When It Comes To Potty And Walks
Consistency is key here, my friend, especially with a puppy. If you can manage, try bringing your puppy home on a weekend. This way, you have a couple days to establish a sort of routine that your dog will start getting used to.
Potty training is tough! You want to find out how your puppy tells you it is time for them to do their business, and act upon it quickly. This minimizes the amount of accidents that can happen in the house. You would think if you just took them out they should be good for a while, but you never know! Observing your dogs behaviors right before they go is a great thing to start early on. Eventually, your dog will give you a small look that you immediately recognize. Remember, dogs speak to us in many ways!
As much as you may minimize them, accidents are an inevitable part of puppy ownership. The best piece of advice I received when training Nala was: reward your puppy an insane amount when going to the bathroom where they are supposed to. Small, tasty treats go a very long way when it comes to any kind of training, but especially when teaching such an important skill as this.
Training pads assist a great amount with emergencies inside the house. It is worth picking up a pack and leaving one out whether you are home or not.
Prepare Your Family
If you have a spouse and/or children, have a sit down with your family and talk about the new puppy before it gets there. Remember, structure is a very important piece of the training puzzle. Delegation of responsibilities within the household is a great way to start this off right, and a great way to get the family involved in something together!
Delegations of responsibility may include:
- Who is in charge of potty training?
- Who will feed the dog (see below for why)?
- Who will coordinate with the vet?
- How do we share dog walking?
Consistency is key, especially when there are lots of cooks in the kitchen. A great example of this is training: if everyone in the home uses different words for the same trick, the dog will become very confused (i.e. come vs here vs touch as recall commands for the same thing).
I said see below because this happens to be a great example of why delegation of responsibility is so important. My cousin and his family eventually realized they would all come home at separate times, notice the bowl was empty, and fill it because they figured their dog was hungry. Little did they know Eddie was eating record amounts of food! They only started noticing when Eddie gained quite a few pounds, and realized they had to assign one person to feeding.
Get The Kids Involved
You should make clear to your kids to be gentle and calm when the new puppy arrives. Obviously they are going to be super excited, which is great! Just give the precursor not to chase, pull poke, or squeeze the puppy. Give the puppy a warm and comforting welcome until they are accustomed to the environment and their new owners.
Kids and their dogs will always have a great bond, so why not let them in on things to do with the new puppy? A great activity to get the kids involved in is training the puppy. Puppies aim to please, and kids love interacting with the dog in structured ways.
Things To Buy
Take a look at this short list and see if you forgot anything before heading out to get your pup! Did you find other things you found super necessary for your puppy? Let us know!
Having spoke about a safe zone, crates are a great way to give your puppy their own comfortable space to veg out whether you are home or not. This is a great training opportunity as well,if you do it right. With all different materials and sizes, it can be overwhelming choosing which one to get!
Food and Water Bowls
Get as fancy as you want with this. I am a big fan of stainless steel bowls, as they are easy to clean and will not break.
Gates are super important if you want to keep your dog in one room or floor of the house. When Nala lost her leg, I knew she was just as adventurous as before. I started putting gates on the stairs so she could not try to go up or down, which could result in her seriously hurting herself.
Leash and Collar
Although there are tons of options, worry not. Your puppy will grow pretty quickly, and you’ll get a better hang of what you like most and what may be best.
From a small puppy, Nala loved rolling around in things that stink. Yours may too, but even if not cleanliness is a great thing to keep up with. Dogs do not need to be bathed very frequently, but try and find some shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for puppies.
Brush and Nail Trimmers
Anything you believe you will need to do to keep your dog groomed, you should start young. This way, they become used to the experience and will not fight you on it. This is especially true of trimming their nails.
I used to use plastic bags, which work fine, but poop bags are biodegradable, and much smaller than a massive super market bag. Worth holding a roll with you when you go on your walks.
Squeaky toys are a great one, but there are just so many other types to choose from. See what kinds of toys your puppy likes as they start to grow, and splurge every once in a while!
Did you know chewing bones helps dogs process their surroundings? Kind of like a meditation for them, one that actually helps strengthen their teeth as well. If your dog is a super aggressive chewer, like Nala, Moose antlers are your answer.
There are sustainably harvested moose antlers for sale, and they last a very long time. Well worth the money, as the quality is unsurpassed in my opinion. Other options include marrow bones from the super market, among many many… many other options as well.
Accidents happen and are a totally normal part of training, so be prepared for them! Non toxic cleaning supplies are great to have on hand, mainly because they get rid of odor and stains quickly.
Just like everything else, there are endless brands and opinions on what dog food to use. Sure, there are definitely some ingredients you want to avoid, but I’ll make a post for this another day.
If you are a first time dog owner, talk to your vet to see what they suggest you use. If you are getting your dog from a breeder, they will tell you what food they have been using so that is a good start.
Most dogs are food driven, and small treats are a great way to help with training your new puppy. You want these to be on the smaller side of treats, considering you might be using them more than normal to get started.
Do some research on clicker training, and see if it is something you would like to try out! A clicker paired with treats is a great way to get going on training a puppy.
Very important! Your dog will probably get out eventually. If the person who finds them doesn’t know who to call, then there may be a problem.
Just like anything you start with, it is easy to forget things you may need. When it comes to puppies, we hope this post has helped you make mental notes of things you may have forgotten. If you have found other things that were super helpful for you, let us know! We always enjoy updating these posts with new ideas from our readers.