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  • Nichole Petrie

We got a puppy! Now What?

"Wow we did it! We got a NEW puppy! OMG she's so cute and so tiny! And oh my god look at her cute little paws and ears and her sweet little nose and aaawwwww those puppy eyes. Oh my god I love her so much already. She's PERFECT and can do NO wrong!"

*Puppy falls asleep and the new parents just sit and stare in complete love and awe*

"Now what?"

There it is.....what EVERYONE says when they get a puppy. And this is where it starts.... NOW WHAT?

Well lets just hope you got all the essentials for owning and raising a puppy FIRST.

Here is your checklist:

1. Crate

Yep that's right! You WILL need a crate. The crate has multiple uses and is for their safety and YOUR sanity. The crate is one of the most important tools your puppy will need. They may even use a crate for their lifetime. Crates are great to use for naps, night time and when no one is home to watch your puppy. They can also be used at times when you need your pup to be in a safe place while you are cleaning or can't keep a watchful eye on them. Purchase a crate that will give them room to grow. Most have dividers you can adjust as they get bigger.

The crucial part about getting a crate is introducing it to your puppy. If this is done wrong many behavior issues will arise and the crate will be seen by your puppy as something to fear. This is what we don't want.

Always stay positive when introducing the crate. Include treats, verbal and physical praise. GO SLOW and NEVER rush this stage. Let them walk into the crate on their own and every time they go in give a treat and verbal praise and let them walk out on their own (do this about 15 times). Next you can slowly lead them in with their collar while giving a command such as "Kennel up" or "Crate", about another 15 times, then treat and praise. After that, leading them in and slowly closing the door BUT DO NOT LOCK IT. Hold it closed for 5 seconds, open the door and let them walk out with a treat and praise. Repeat that last step and work up to 5 minutes of them staying in the crate while you hold the door closed, increasing the time slowly. Take breaks in between the steps but ALWAYS remain positive and be patient.

Rule of thumb is NO food, water, bedding, toys or chews in the crate for the first few weeks. You can slowly add these items as they get older but the last thing to add should be a bed. We don't want them to eat the bedding while you are gone and possibly choke or even worse.

2. Bedding

I LOVE taking and puppy to the pets store so they can pick out their own bed. What YOU may think is comfortable they might not like. Remember it's their bed not yours so let them choose.

You might need to get multiple beds for your home unless you don't mind dragging the bed through out the house for your pup to have a place to rest.

Now the trick is WHEN to get the bed. Start with a small inexpensive bed when they are about 8 to 15 weeks. By 10 weeks they will start to chew and their bed is going to be the first thing they will chew on.

From about 15 weeks to 6 months of age some pups may only be allowed to have a towel or maybe even no bed. This depends on how much of a heavy chewer they are. Around 8 months of age you can start to look into more expensive nicer beds to purchase.

The other choice is get a chew resistant bed. Below are some choices.

3. Bowls

The best bowls on the market to use are stainless steel or porcelain. We want to steer clear of plastic bowls since they collect bacteria and mold the naked eye can not see.

I always like to advise a slow feeder bowl especially if you have a large/giant breed or maybe even a fast eater.

Slow feeders prevent bloating, gas, choking and Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), also known as, twisted stomach. Slow feeders are available in the stainless steel and porcelain options.

Wash your dogs bowl at least twice a week with soap and water. BOTH BOWLS....yes the water bowl needs to be washed as well.

4. Food & Treats

Just a few things to remember when purchasing these incredibly important items.

"What you feed your dog can be either the safest and most powerful form medicine or the slowest form of poison."

Please remember this. Yes your dog will eat whatever you put in front of them but that doesn't necessarily mean its good for them. Please read and print Harmful and Helpful Foods

Key Points:

  • Stay away from giving table scraps

  • Add fresh veggies and fruit to their diet

  • Buy kibble and treats with NO corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal and food coloring dyes

  • Feed to your puppies TARGET weight, not how much they weight. You will need to research your dogs breed to know this.

  • Leaner dog = Longer life

  • Always in moderation for any treats given

5. Toys & Chews

Here's the FUN stuff! This is were we do a process of elimination on what your puppy can and can not have. Yes there will be a growing list of what your puppy will not be allowed to have due to mess in the home, how heavy they chew during the teething period (yes puppies lose their baby teeth just like human children), if a certain treat makes them sick or if they just don't like particular toy/chew. Pet stores have a wide variety of items for your growing puppies stages.

6. Leashes & Collars

First understand that the first collar and leash you buy your puppy will not and should not be their ONLY collar and leash for the rest of their lives. Puppies grow as will their collar size. Large/giant breeds will need larger thicker collars. Stronger breeds may need wider thick collars. A harness may need to be added as they grow. I only advise to NEVER EVER buy an extended/retractable lead and HERE'S WHY.

7. Baby gates

Yep that's right will need a baby gate or 2 or maybe even 3 for your home. You will need to puppy proof your home as well. Just like you would't let a human baby roam the house freely so they will be able to get into ANYTHING and could possible harm themselves, its the SAME thing with a puppy. Get the gates.

8. Puppy Pads

I'm not too fond of puppy pads but there are some real exceptions. Breeds that are too small to potty outdoors when its too hot or too cold, older dogs that suffer from incontinence, apartment/condo living and bad weather are the only exceptions. Your puppy should move from the pad to the eliminating outdoors by the age of 10 weeks.

9. Grooming Tools

Brushes and combs appropriate for your puppies coat, teeth brush and paste. This is something you will need to introduce these items early in age so that your puppy will get used to these items while they are used on them by either you our a groomer. Research your breed as some are more high maintenance with their coat that other breeds.

Brushing your dogs teeth should be a weekly occasion. Always positive and be patient.

10. Finding the right Veterinarian

Your new puppy should visit your veterinarian for the first time within a few days of coming home. It is important for the puppy to have a physical examination, even if no vaccines are due so your puppy can meet the vet techs and doctor. This is a chance to make sure there are no health problems that went undetected by the breeder, shelter, or rescue organization.

It's best to find a good veterinarian before you bring home your puppy. Then you will have the vet lined up and not have to rush to find one. Look for a veterinary office with a great reputation in a convenient location for you. Make sure their prices are affordable for you. The best way to find a good vet is to ask around and do your research. Talk to friends and family members with pets and read online reviews.

On your puppy's first visit, be sure to bring all the paperwork you were provided. Your vet will do the examination and discuss the puppy vaccination schedule with you. Puppies should be first vaccinated between six and eight weeks of age. Vaccines need to be boostered up until they are about 16 to 18 weeks old. Expect to visit the vet every three weeks or so until then.

11. Miscellaneous Items -

Such as Travel bags, poop bags, travel bowls, towels, blankets and all the cool pet parent gadgets are fun to have.

In conclusion enjoy your puppy because I can promise you that cuteness will be gone soon and then you will have a teenage puppy on your hands and that's a whole new conversation.

Side Note:

  • Contact a local reputable dog trainer in your area for any specific questions you may have

  • Puppy Training should start after they have had all their shots and are in good health

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