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Puppy Preparation: Tips Before Getting Your New Best Friend

Picture of a cat walking down a cat tower with caption, is your cat slowing down?

Bringing home a new puppy is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming – for both of you! Before that happy day arrives, some important preparation will ensure a smooth transition for you and your furry friend.
We created a guide to get you started.

 

Planning From The Start

Choosing a Breed: Consider your lifestyle, house size, and commitment ability. Research the breed’s history to understand its potential character and behaviour traits. Breed history can offer clues to a dog’s personality, but remember, it’s not set in stone. Ensure you can meet their training and enrichment requirements. Find out what health problems can be associated with the breed. Research the grooming requirements of the breed you are considering.

Finding Your Perfect Pup: Adopt from a reputable shelter or registered and responsible breeder. When seeking from a breeder, ask if they select for temperament and not just physical traits. Always meet both the puppy and the mother, and preferably the dad and littermates as well. Assess the living conditions of the mum and puppy, to ensure it is clean and well-maintained. Ideally, they should be integrated with the family unit in a standard home environment. Assess the mum and pups temperaments by interacting with them. Make sure the puppy has passed its veterinary check and ask for all health and treatment records. Avoid the puppy having to go through the trauma of flying by choosing a local breeder or taking a road trip to pick them up.

Red flags from a breeder include:

  • Denying visits or refusing to show you the puppy’s living area
  • Not allowing you to meet the mother
  • Only offering interstate transport via airplane
  • Failing to provide complete health check records

Budget for Ongoing Expenses: Remember to consider the financial responsibility of dog ownership. Ongoing costs include food, veterinary care, vaccinations, parasite prevention, treats, toys, grooming, obedience training, boarding fees, council registration, and pet insurance – not to mention unexpected injuries or illnesses. Be prepared for the expected and unexpected by budgeting and having money set aside for emergencies.

Peace of Mind with Pet Insurance: Consider pet insurance to help manage vet bills. Do your research to find a pet insurance plan that best suits your needs and budget. There are many companies on the market, so take your time to compare coverage options and costs.

Some providers partner with GapOnly, a new payment system that allows you to access your eligible insurance benefits immediately. See our blog post for more information on GapOnly

Find a Pet Sitter or Dog Walker: If you work long hours or won’t be able to take your dog on holidays, research alternative pet care options beforehand. Initially, puppies shouldn’t be left alone for hours on end, so it is important to factor this into your plans.

Picture of a cat walking down a cat tower with caption, is your cat slowing down?

Puppy Supplies

Choosing the Right Food: Choose high-quality puppy food that’s appropriate for your pup’s age, breed, and size. As they grow, transition their food to meet their changing needs at different life stages. Consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations on food and feeding amounts. Hills and Royal Canin are an excellent choice, as they are super-premium foods. Cheap supermarket food should generally be avoided due to low nutritional value, poor ingredient quality, and less regulation on quality control.

Puppies typically need to be fed 2-3 times a day. Use the recommended feeding amounts on the food packaging as a guide, but adjust based on your veterinarian’s advice and your puppy’s individual needs. Using a mixture of dry biscuits and wet food offers variety and different feeding options.

Stimulate Their Minds: Mental enrichment is equally important as physical exercise for a happy and healthy dog. Tap into your dog’s natural instincts and provide entertainment by offering mental stimulation. This will help them feel satisfied and prevent boredom. Here are some enrichment ideas:

  • Utilise enrichment feeders like puzzle feeders, lick mats, and treat balls to challenge your dog during mealtime
  • Get creative with DIY enrichment feeders! Freeze treats and toys in an ice cream tub, put food in a muffin tray covered with tennis balls, or hide kibble in toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, and egg trays
  • Scatter feed to engage your dog’s natural sniffing instincts. Toss their kibble around the lawn or hide it in piles for them to find
  • Embark on a “Sniffari” (sniffing safari). It’s a scent walk where your dog’s nose takes the lead. Simply equip them with a harness and a long leash, then find a safe area to explore. Let them sniff anything and everything that piques their interest. Follow their direction and keep the leash loose. This truly enriching experience will be far more satisfying for them than a regular walk where they can’t fully explore their surroundings
  • Provide a variety of toys, including fluffy toys, ropes, balls, and chew toys. Rotate them regularly to keep things interesting

Checklist: For a comprehensive list of supplies, download our free “New Puppy Checklist” PDF by clicking the image below:

 

Picture of a cat walking down a cat tower with caption, is your cat slowing down?

Prepare Your Home

Essential Puppy-Proofing: Before your furry friend arrives, transform your home into a safe haven. Secure anything you wouldn’t want to be chewed, destroyed, or ingested, like electrical cords and valuable items. Make sure cleaning supplies, chemicals, and food are out of reach. Use baby gates to keep your puppy out of restricted areas or away from stairs.

Create A Safe Space: Introducing a young pup to a new house with strangers can feel very daunting for them. Create a calm and safe space for them to help with the transition. Use a crate with a soft bed, treats, and cuddly toys to create a space that feels like their sanctuary to come and go from as they please. Cover the top and sides of the crate with a blanket so they have a sense of privacy and security. Try to keep noise and stimulation to a minimum.

Be Aware of Hidden Dangers: Most people know chocolate is a no-go, but many other human foods can be harmful to dogs. There’s also a surprising number of plants that can be toxic to your furry friend. To help you keep your pup safe, we compiled a list of common toxic foods and plants in a separate blog post: Toxic Food & Plants

Living in Harmony with Other Pets: If you already have pets, ensure their vaccinations and flea and worm treatments are up-to-date. For existing dogs, plan to carve out dedicated alone time to maintain their bond with you and give them a break from the puppy. For existing cats, provide ample private spaces and high areas where they can escape and feel secure. Puppy gates can also be used to separate pets from each other and for slow introductions.
Products such as Zylkene, Feliway, and Adaptil can help during the transition stage.

 

Picture of a cat walking down a cat tower with caption, is your cat slowing down?

Puppy Arrival

Go Slow: Keep interactions calm and gentle. Allow them to approach you at their own pace, and let them walk away when they want. Teach children to interact gently and avoid being rough or overly excited with the puppy. If the puppy enters their “safe” zone in the crate, leave them alone until they decide to come out again. Puppies are growing and developing quickly, and require a lot of sleep – up to 16 hours a day! To ensure proper rest, allow them to sleep undisturbed.

For the first few days, keep the puppy at home to allow them to adjust to their new surroundings before taking them anywhere. Limit friend and family member visits during this time as well.

Book a Check-Up: Once your new family member has arrived and started to adjust to their new home, you can schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a health check. This check-up is a great opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have and plan for your pup’s ongoing care, such as vaccinations, desexing, and parasite prevention.

Paws at Prospect Vet offers free puppy wellness checks for your peace of mind, and of course, lots of cuddles too! Book your pups free health check here: Book Online

Training For Them and Training For You: Start your puppy off on the right paw by enrolling in Puppy School. Your puppy will gain vital socialisation, and learn valuable skills like basic obedience and proper doggy etiquette while interacting with other puppies in a safe and supervised environment. You’ll also gain valuable knowledge about dog behavior, training techniques, and how to handle common puppy challenges.

When selecting a trainer, please ensure they have formal qualifications and only use positive reinforcement methods. Positive reinforcement focuses on rewarding good behaviour, creating a positive and enjoyable learning experience for both you and your pup.

Training For Life: Once you’ve mastered the basics in Puppy School, obedience training classes are a great way to continue learning and provide enrichment for your dog. Again, please make sure it is with a qualified trainer with positive reinforcement techniques.

 

Plan For Success

By planning ahead and gathering the necessary supplies, you can ensure a smooth transition for your new puppy and set the foundation for a happy and fulfilling life together.

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