Puppies. They’re cute and cuddly, affectionate and silly. Many of us want one at some point in our lives, especially when we are young or want companions (or our kids are begging for one).
I assume you are here because you either want a dog or are at least mulling over the idea. But have you considered how to prepare for a new puppy?
It’s funny. Most of us naturally start planning ahead for the arrival of a child, but the same is not necessarily true for puppies. We decide we want one, and snap! We take the plunge with minimal planning or preparation. Not casting any stones here! I’ve done it myself.
My goal today is to acquaint you with some basic considerations that will hopefully make bringing a puppy home as positive an experience as possible. After all, this is supposed to be fun! Dog ownership has its challenges, but being unprepared doesn’t have to be one of them.
Let’s take a look at the basics.
Deciding WHO will Care for Your Dog: Talking Things Over with the Fam
I can’t tell you how many times we have bought a pup or taken in a stray without first discussing who is going to take care of the dog. It seems so basic. But somehow, we all just make assumptions that it will be somebody else who gets up to take Snoopy to potty in the middle of the night, give him a bottle, or figure out why he’s whining.
Here’s a good question—who is going to pick up his poop in the yard?
Somebody is going to be the primary caregiver of that pup! You might as well sit down with your family beforehand and hash out who is going to do what, and when. Puppies are cute, and taking in a stray is noble, but dogs have needs that must be met. Planning ahead throws assumptions out the window and prevents many hurt feelings and angry outbursts.
Sharing duties is a great plan. Here’s a list to get the ball rolling:
- Taking the night shift
- Crate cleaning
- Obedience Training
- Potty Training
- Picking up poop
- Responsibility for Vet/Shot bills
The list of duties will change as little Snoopy grows, and you’ll think of things that aren’t on this list. But have a plan! Otherwise, one person might end up doing everything and grow resentful. That’s not good for either them, or the dog.
Choosing a Breed: Puppy Paradise or Puppy Hell
There are literally hundreds of dog breeds to choose from. You can check them out here https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/. But does dog breed really matter? Absolutely.
You can find the perfect breed for your family with just a bit of research and forethought. Without it, you could find trouble.
Some breeds shed, some don’t.
Some bark at their own shadows, while others will lick perfect strangers when what you need is a guard dog to alert you to their presence.
Is your chosen breed simple, or tough, to potty train?
Skin problems. No skin problems.
Cuddly dogs. Aloof dogs.
Big dogs. Little dogs.
Cat-friendly. Cat eaters!
Regular grooming. No grooming.
Ad infinitum. You get the picture!
Thinking through who you are as a family is important when you consider breeds, and you don’t want to choose one haphazardly only to discover the pup you chose is a poor match. Both you and your dog deserve a happy match.
Can you picture your toddler roaming around the house, shoveling tufts of hair into her mouth because the breed you chose sheds uncontrollably?
Maybe you come home from a boring job expecting to play fetch and go for a walk, only to discover that Snoopy hates activity, or has eaten the couch cushions and you need to spend your evening cleaning up rather than playing.
Be choosy. You deserve it, and so does your dog:)
Preparing Your Dog’s Place at Home
This is the fun part—preparing a special place for your dog. You’re almost ready to bring Snoopy home!
It’s unnecessary to get all fancy with Snoopy’s sleeping/living area, but if you have the funds, go for it.
At the very least, you will want a crate that matches his needs for both size and durability. And Snoopy doesn’t see his crate as some sort of prison, so don’t fret over that. His crate is his den. It provides ‘ole Snoopy with a sense of security and helps keep him safe when you’re away.
Most crates are rated for the proper size and weight of your dog, so be sure to look at the specs before you buy.
Also, consider how much your puppy is going to grow. Many crates have graduated sizes, meaning they have a divider you can use to keep your puppy’s living area small, removing it as he grows.
This is a terrific feature because puppies generally do better with potty training when they are kept in a (smaller) space appropriate for their size. I know you may want them to have room to stretch out, but this is usually counterproductive when potty training.
You may want to provide outdoor living space for Snoopy. A fenced yard, a dog run, or a kennel are all appropriate choices. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
A yard is great because it provides you with a safe area to play with your puppy, plus he can stay outside for long periods of time, weather permitting. It can even be set up so that he has access to a porch.
Once he’s grown, you can insert a dog door so that he has access to the house if you wish. All great, safe options.
Of course, you will have to deal with possibly stepping in Snoopy’s poop, or him digging up your flowers, or eating your shoes. But these issues can be dealt with.
If you primarily want Snoop to live indoors, yet be outdoors for short periods of time, a dog run is OK. A dog run is a small, fenced enclosure outside, just big enough to contain your dog and provide shelter, food, and water (Picture a 5×10 foot enclosed area).
Keep in mind that the run needs to be an adequate size for your dog—if he’s big, he’s going to need a decent sized run. You can Google the correct size for your breed’s weight and height.
Please remember, it is best that a dog run be somewhere Snoopy doesn’t have to stay for days on end. He needs more freedom than a run has to offer.
Think of dog runs essentially as large crates; they’re available when you need somewhere for your dog to stay safe outdoors for short time periods while you tend to other needs.
Last, but not least, you might choose to build your dog a kennel (or have one built).
I won’t go into detail on this post, but the general advantage to a kennel is having a climate-controlled environment (great when you live in areas with severe climates) and even a connected dog yard. That way, Snoopy has the freedom to roam indoors or out, at will, and remain safe.
I will definitely cover kennels in depth in another post; we operate a boarding business and have built two kennels, so I know a thing or two about them.
Supplies You Need to Care for Your Dog: Do You Have Them?
Simply put, dogs need stuff. YOU need stuff to care for your dog.
Here’s a basic list:
- Dog Bed
- Dog House for outdoors
- Food dish
- Water dish
- Chew toys
- Play toys
- Fresh water
- Grooming supplies (brush, shears, nail clippers)
- Name tag
- Flea control
- A good veterinarian
Don’t forget that at some point you are going to need to transport your full-grown dog, and you’ll need the proper vehicle to do so.
You cannot fit a Great Dane in your Prius! Not if you want to drive safely. You’re going to need a truck or Suburban, or something of the sort. So, unless you’re in the market for a new car to suit the size of your dog, I suggest getting a dog to suit your transportation.
I will never forget watching a client of mine barrel up our driveway with her Suburban listing from side to side. Her Great Dane was SUPER excited about the car ride, and his weight was throwing that Suburban all over the drive, despite the fact that she had chosen the right vehicle. It was a sight to see! (A large crate or carrier for transporting the dog would have been a reasonable, safer option than leaving him loose in the vehicle).
I repeat, get the right sized dog breed to match your situation, LOL. And remember, Snoopy may be prone to car sickness, so get a carrier if you don’t want to clean up vomit or poop every time you go for a ride;) Especially if he’s a Great Dane.
The Most Important Question
Are you ready for the commitment and responsibilities of dog ownership? Do you have the time and money to provide great care for good ‘ole Snoop? If so, may you have many happy years together.
If you’re not sure, take some time to think about it. There’s no hurry. There’s a really good chance that if the timing is bad now, it will be better in the future, and you’ll get your wish.
Happy owners make for happy dogs.
If you ever need help problem-solving or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will be more than happy to do what I can to help you out.