So you have chosen the breed of your dog. You picked out a reliable breeder or adoption shelter, but this does not mean that you will be bringing a puppy home that same day. There are times when all the puppies at the kennel of your choice already have owners. This could mean that you must wait for the next batch of puppies to be ready, but this waiting period is a great opportunity for you to educate yourself about your future dog and the responsibilities that come with owning a dog.
Hit the books to find out more about the breed of your future puppy with regards to characteristic behavior, basic care, and training. Do not stick to just one book; read several different books so you will have a broader perspective. It helps to get as much information as you can because this will help you to take better care of your puppy. (Of course, our puppy center is a wealth of knowledge too.) Being well informed will also help you to understand the behavior that is typical to the breed and will provide you with tips on how to train your puppy.
Aside from reading, you can also attend some classes, such as Kindergarten Puppy Training (KPT). There you can learn the basics of obedience training beforehand even if you do not have the puppy yet. It is actually to your advantage to attend these types of classes without a puppy in tow because your attention will not be divided between the lecturer and your puppy during the class. You can take notes during class and observe how the other dog owners interact with their puppies. By attending these classes you will get the opportunity to observe dogs that have been successfully trained in obedience. This will help you to appreciate the importance of dog training.
Once you get the call from your chosen breeder or adoption kennel that you will soon be able to bring your puppy home, you will need to immediately make all the necessary preparations, if you have not already.
Getting your home ready for a young animal is much like preparing a home for a human toddler. Anything within reach should be “puppy proof” (safe for chewing or swallowing), and everything else should be covered or placed out of the puppy’s reach. Make sure to do your research on what the most dangerous items are in the home, what food items are toxic to dogs, and what emergencies most often occur with dogs.
If you are living in a large household, then part of the preparations will be to sit down with the entire family to talk about who will have which responsibilities. You will also need to establish who will have primary control over the puppy. This should be you or another adult. It will be very confusing for the dog if all the family members attempt to exercise control over it. As pack animals, dogs tend to respond best when there is a “top dog.”
To help your puppy adjust to its new home, it will be very helpful if you establish a few guidelines with regards to its feeding, walking and playtime. Among your family, you need to decide who will be taking the different responsibilities in caring for the puppy. You also have to discuss with your family the parts of the house where the puppy will sleep, eat or play as well as the parts of the house that are off-limits to the puppy. These guidelines must be established before the puppy arrives to avoid confusion within the family as well as for the puppy.
If there are small kids in the household, they must also be included in the discussion prior to the arrival of the puppy. The kids must be taught how to take proper care of a puppy and how to handle it gently. You will need to explain to them that the puppy will be adjusting to its new home so it is best to avoid handling it roughly when playing, hugging or kissing. Loud noises and shouting can also be very stressful for the puppy while it is still getting used to new surroundings. Kids need to understand that the puppy needs some time to become comfortable before they can play with it as much as they want.
Remember that the first few days or weeks will be an adjustment period – not just for you and your family, but for your puppy too. The puppy will be adjusting to its new surroundings and its separation from the rest of its litter. There is often a lot of crying (from the puppy) as it gets used to its new way of living.
When welcoming the puppy into your home, it is best to do it at a time when you are sure that you can be with the puppy for more than just brief moments. In fact, as much as possible, avoid leaving your puppy alone during this period.
It is natural for puppies at the age of 8-10 weeks to easily develop a bond with its new owner, but this owner-pet bond will not happen as smoothly if you are not at home during this crucial period. Spend at least a week or two with your new puppy to help it adjust and to create a strong bond between you and your new pet.
Image: Terrah / via Flickr