Of all the services we offer, our Puppy Preparation session is among my favorites for folks bringing puppy home. If done right, there’s no puppy in attendance (definitely not a selling point!), because the clients have chosen to spend the time getting ready for the new arrival, instead of worrying about it after the fact. What we learn in these sessions is that planning for the arrival of your new canine companion can contribute so much to the success of your pup’s introduction to your home and family, and set the stage for a great beginning to your new life together. Here are a few things We’d love for any family to have in place before bringing that youngster home:
- A safe place to be (or two!). You wouldn’t think about bringing home a new baby without having a safe place for them to rest (and so you can get some rest!), which include things like cribs and playpens. The equivalent for your puppy is a crate, or an exercise pen, or better yet, both! Puppies need places where they can be safely confined until they learn their house manners (which may not be for more than a year!), keeping them out from under foot and away from all the stuff you don’t want chewed up or peed on! Your pup’s crate only needs to be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in, and you can usually purchase a crate big enough to accommodate your pup’s adult size, and use the provided dividers to reduce its interior size to make it more pup-appropriate. Exercise pens are bigger, similar to playpens for kids, and give your pup a place to play and run around safely while you’re busy doing other things.
- A supply of healthy food and treats. Choosing the right food for your puppy shouldn’t be a decision made at the supermarket on the way home from the breeder or rescue or shelter. Dog nutrition is at least as complex as human nutrition and the spectrum of choices is huge! We always advise folks to buy the highest quality food you can afford, which will contribute so much to helping your pup grow well and strong. Quality and price do not always equate, so look for expertise from sources such as The Whole Dog Journal.
- Basic equipment. Appropriately sized leash, harness and food and water bowls are all necessities from the get-go.
- A special friend. Many puppies struggle the first few nights in their new home. Moving from their first home to their new home with you can be a big shock, and the first few days away from their siblings can be a tough transition to make. Comfort toys, like the Snuggle Puppy, usually contain an electronic device that simulates the sound and feel of a heartbeat, as well as a small heat pack that provides a source of warming that mimics the closeness of the littermates he’s left behind.
- A personal physician! New puppies typically will need vaccinations, worming treatments and regular health checks until they reach adolescence at about age 6 months or so. If you don’t already have a veterinarian for your family pets, finding a great one you can work with is a great relationship to establish, even before your puppy comes home. Once you’ve scheduled your puppy’s homecoming, their very first “date” should be with the vet for a complete check out. Many times you can find a great vet by networking with family and friends, looking for practitioners who are knowledgeable and kind, as early good experiences with the vet can set the stage for a lifetime of happy visits!
- Lots of stuff to chew! Puppies start chewing right after weaning, and that intensifies during teething time, and may continue throughout the dog’s life, as chewing tends to be a favorite pastime, so getting your pup to appreciate appropriate chew things early on is a formula for success. Puppy-sized toys by Kong are always a favorite (particularly the ones that are hollow, so you can smear a dab of cheese or peanut butter inside), as are bully sticks and frozen carrots. Please make sure the chew things you offer the pup are attractive to the dog!
- Toys. Dogs are highly intelligent, even as babies, and although they sleep a lot, their awake time is always full of exploring and investigating. To keep your pup mentally stimulated, make sure you have a varied supply of dog toys incorporating all kinds of textures, sounds, and shapes. These early interactions and experiences can make all the difference in getting your pup off to a great start.
- An apron! We always get a bit of side-eye when we tell prospective puppy parents to make sure they have an apron or two handy before the puppy comes home. In the first place, aprons have great big pockets you can stash essential items in, such as leashes, treats, chew things and other stuff you’ll want to get your hands on fast when there’s a puppy around. Another thing to remember is that puppies are famous for getting into messes, and making messes, and wearing an apron can help save your better clothes. If the apron doesn’t do it for you, outsized medical scrubs are durable and can also have great big pockets to stash handy items for quick use!
- A routine! Your pup will be happier and acclimate more quickly if things happen in a regular and predictable way. Think about potty schedules for toilet training, feeding schedules, nap times and over-night sleeping schedules. Typically, new puppies have some need that will have to be met every two hours or so, so make sure you have a family member, friend or pet sitter available to take care of them!
- A training plan! Whether you work with a trainer or not (and we absolutely recommend finding a great trainer!), your pup is an intelligent and inquisitive creature who will need a steady stream of mental stimulation throughout his life. Part of this can be satisfied by toys and play, but nothing beats learning new things, having interesting new experiences and having puzzles to solve. Remember, if you don’t give the dog something to think about, he’ll certainly think up something on his own! Think about joining our Puppy Club, an innovative puppy socialization and training program!
Ready to bring your new puppy home? Give us a call at (951) 847-7010 to set up your personalized Puppy Preparation session today!