I was in my senior year of undergrad at UCLA when I decided to get a dog. Getting a dog was something I wanted since I was 5 years old, but I quickly realized it was not something I was prepared for. Bringing home a dog, is similar to bringing home a newborn baby. There are sleep & feeding schedules, constant changes of pee pads or potty breaks outside every hour on the hour. Yes, that means you are waking up in the middle of the night to take your dog outside or to their pee pad. You need to socialize your dog, but if they are a puppy, then there is the worry of them catching something before they are fully vaccinated. I mean, these are things no one talks about when you tell a dog owner that you want to get a dog. They talk about how amazing it is, how you’ll have a best friend, how you’ll make human friends at the dog park, and maybe they’ll suggest a few tools to help with shedding. But I swear, for the 15 years I talked about getting a dog no one ever shared what the first few months would be like. So, I wanted to share my experience and a few tips I have from when I brought Baby G home almost 7 years ago.
1. Have a carrier you can use every day.
If you are bringing home a puppy then you cannot just allow them walk outside wherever you go. They could pick up diseases from walking around in grass or even sidewalks. But you can’t just leave them at home for 2 months until they are full vaccinated. Instead, have a carrier that you can put them in for walks, or to run errands. This allows them to get out of the house and also to get used to the noises and movements of everyday life. If you leave your dog at home during these two months, you might end up with a pet terrified of everyday life.
You can shop the Shaya Carrier on our site. It’s made for everyday but can also be used for flying so you’ll only ever need the one carrier. We also have an article on how to get your pet comfortable with their carrier on our blog here.
2. Have a crate setup.
Even if you do not plan on crate training your dog, you’ll need a space for your dog to stay if you leave the house to run errands. Puppies are just like toddlers, they’ll roam around, bite and scratch things if you leave them unattended. If you have a small dog you can also get a foldable crate. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and is easy to put away if you do not plan on using it often. Baby G and I use one when we travel so she has somewhere to sleep that feels familiar.
3. Research toxic foods for dogs.
When you are not used to having a creature follow you around and attempt to eat anything that falls on the floor you might not be used to picking up a dropped olive right away. But that olive could send your dog straight to the hospital. Review the list of poisonous foods so you can be sure to hide them away from your dog and are extra vigilant when using the items. For a list of poisonous foods, you can read through this article by WebMD.
4. Research vets so you have one ready when you bring your pet home.
You should setup an appointment with your vet for within 2 days of bringing your pet home. Instead of worrying about doing the research when you’re busy being a new dog parent, do your research before and set up the appointment. The way we found our vet was through Google search. But if you have friends with dogs, it’s easiest to ask them who they work with.
5.Catch up on your sleep beforehand.
YOU WILL NOT SLEEP when you bring your best furry friend home. Puppies are truly like babies in that they will require you to wake up every few hours. When young, the general rule is that you can have your dog hold it one hour for every month they are. So, if you are bringing home a 3-month puppy then you need to take them out every 3 hours. But dogs, just like people, are unpredictable. Your dog might have a small bladder or take a little bit more time until they can hold it for a few hours. So, sleep before you bring your puppy home, and know that you might just be a zombie for a few months.
Bringing home a new puppy is a truly exciting adventure and this list is not meant to scare you. Instead, I hope it’s helped you realize that with a little preparation it can make the time even more enjoyable. Have any other tips on what people should know before they bring a puppy home? Please share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.