Before you bring home your new puppy, there are several things you must consider and prepare for. A good quality breeder will most likely give you a starter-kit of items that the puppy is already familiar with, but there are many things you will need to purchase prior to the puppy arriving at its new home.

While you’re still visiting your puppy, and before it’s ready to go home with you, this is the time to pick a veterinarian if you don’t already have one and schedule the puppy’s first wellness appointment. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve made up a schedule to continue the puppy’s training that began with the breeder or signed up for training classes elsewhere. You’ll want to begin these immediately so there is no lag time between the training at the breeder’s and the training at your home.

And there are other important things to consider long before the puppy comes home. Where will the puppy spend time when you aren’t with it? You must have a designated area for the puppy that it will become intimately familiar with. This area needs to be blocked off from the areas that the puppy will not be allowed to wander into, at least during those first months. Even though the puppy might eventually have full run of the house, it is best to have a small area to begin with while you potty-train and safety-train your puppy. The smaller the area, the less trouble it can get into.

In this designated area, the puppy with need a crate or X-pen where there’s a pillow or blanket for sleeping. This can be closed off from the rest of their play area so they know where they are to sleep.

By now you should have purchased the supplies the puppy needs. Besides the crate or pen, you will need food and water bowls, bedding, appropriate toys, etc. The breeder is your best resource on these items, and if you can get what the puppy is already familiar with, that is your best bet. The type of toys you purchase need to be puppy-safe, so definitely consult with the breeder who has ample experience with puppy-appropriate toys.

You must puppy-proof your home in many of the same ways you would toddler-proof your house. Make sure electrical cords in the puppy’s designated area are up and out of the way. Be sure there are no cleaning supplies in their area and no cabinets with cleaning supplies in them that can be bounced open. If so, put child-proof latches on them. Medications, small objects like paper clips, rubber bands, jewelry, etc., should all be where your puppy can’t get to them. Keep toilet lids closed so the puppy can’t drink from it, but also can’t fall in face-first and possibly get stuck. Make sure blinds aren’t down where a puppy can get its neck stuck in them. There shouldn’t be any trashcans near them where they can get into them. Even secured trashcans can be accessed if they knock them over and dislodge the lids. Don’t take any chances.

Also, don’t feed them table scraps. Their digestive system is not made for human food and this can cause major gastrointestinal issues. This will also keep your puppy from becoming a dog that constantly begs whenever you eat. And don’t forget to keep any houseplants up or away from where your puppy can get at them. Even if the plant isn’t poisonous, the soil could make them very sick.

Once you bring the puppy home, it might surprise you to know that you must always have the puppy with you when it is not in its designated area. It only takes a second for a puppy, like a toddler, to get into sone serious trouble. Breeders report stories of puppies arriving at their new homes and within days ending up in sick due to eating things like moist wipes, diapers, and even human underwear! It would only take a moment for a puppy to swallow something that could cause a blockage and would require major surgery.

It is advisable to wait until your puppy has had all of its shots before exposing it to other dogs in a social situation. If you don’t have another dog at home, it’s good to socialize them at a doggy daycare once they are over three months old, but it isn’t recommended to take them to a dog park until at least six months old. Make sure it is a dog park that you visit before taking your puppy there. It should be mowed, free of feces, with ample waste dispensers with poop bags provided. When you introduce your puppy to the dog park, take it during a time when there are only a few dogs. Give your puppy time to adjust, but also take the time to get to know other dog owners. When you meet other dogs that your puppy gets a long with, set up play dates at the dog park with those dogs. If there is an aggressive dog at the dog park, or an owner who refuses to follow the rules, you should leave immediately. Altercations at dog parks happen too often and create problems that often result in police involvement. Steer clear of these escalations and, if necessary, find a different dog park if you feel this is an issue that happens too often.

Keeping your puppy safe is your top priority, so never take risks. Go with your gut instinct on doggy daycares and dog parks. But also talk to your dog friends and get recommendations before trying either of these avenues of socialization.

As your puppy gets older, you will know your own dog well enough to expose them to more of your home, other people, and other dogs. Just don’t hurry the process. You don’t want to stress your puppy or put your puppy in any danger, so take things slowly. Your time with your puppy, one-on-one, is what really matters, and the first two years will greatly impact the kind of dog you will have for many years to come.

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