First Time Puppy? Know What to Expect with This 5-Step Guide

First time puppy? From the endless cuteness to the scent of diarrhea, be ready for some loving memories. Your life is about to change. Get ready for it.

1. The commitment

I am assuming you have passed this stage, but one last reminder doesn’t hurt.

Millions of dogs end up on the streets because their people didn’t take them seriously enough.

Dogs demand daily care. They require that we are involved with them daily. They need proper training, playtime, outdoor enrichment, socialization, physical exercise, and mental stimulation.

Deprived dogs are unhappy dogs. Unhappy dogs develop problematic behaviors. Problematic dogs get dumped.

Most dogs are not happy with rushed 20 minutes walks around the block. You must be willing to go out of your way for a good walk, twice a day (at least), for the next 10-15 years.

Take a moment to realize how life-changing this is.

If you can’t imagine finding the space and time for a dog’s needs, skip the whole idea of getting one.

Take this lightly, and you’ll find yourself in a very unpleasant situation.

2. Create a safe space

Your puppy will miss the safety of their mother’s breast and the fun with their siblings. Think about it. One day they are happy and unbothered at home and the next day they wake up in an entirely different place. Their baby minds are shocked.

  • Be there. What you’ve got to do is to fill the void with your presence until they become used to their new environment. Make sure you are there for your new dog. Loneliness will only make it worse for him or her. You don’t want your dog’s first impression of their new home to be anything else than positive. Ideally, take some time off, dedicated to the newcomer.
  • Keep it down. Say no to visitors for a few days. Avoid excessive noise. Provide a few quiet, fun and cozy first days with some good food and toys. Avoid anything that will give them extra pressure.
  • Prepare your home for a puppy. Puppy playfulness can be harmful to them and frustrating for us if not supervised. Hide electrical cords, toxic material, socks, books. If constant supervision is not possible then restrict your puppy when you are away. Trainers recommend crates.
  • Talk to your kids. Kids should be well-informed about the new puppy and everything that this involves. Kids and puppies can be too much for each other, instruct them how to behave.

3. Set the rules and stick to them

Your puppy will have to know early on the rules that living with you comes with. Restrictions are good for a dog as long they enjoy some freedoms too.

So, before you bring the puppy home, talk with the rest of the house members about what is allowed and what is not: Can the dog be on the couch or not? Which rooms will be open for the dog? What are the feeding times? (At least three times a day for a young puppy.) Where is the dog’s personal space going to be? Who will be in charge and of what? What vocabulary do we all use?

Then train. A soon as your puppy feels like home, start their training. This way, puppies learn to understand that they are not the center of the world. They learn that your voice matters when you say no.

In other words, be your dog’s leader. Don’t take the path of dominance. That’s lazy. Be the leader your dog will want to look up to for guidance. Have you heard about positive reinforcement? That’s the way to go.

4. Expect mess

Your puppy will most probably cause a cute mess without any sign of slowing down any soon. They have little sense of what boundaries are yet. Their playfulness and curiosity can get them very mischievous. If you expect a puppy, expect a mess.
Pretty much everything that exists signals playtime. Your puppy will likely want to pull your sheets, chew on your nightstand, rip up your cushions, ‘read’ your books, see what’s in the fireplace, or wrestle with your plants. Also, there is no right time and place for them to pee, they just pee. Keep your mop at hand and don’t shout at them. You are going to make it worse.
Shouting at a newly brought-in puppy is a bad idea. You need a strong basis of trust and love before you show them that you can be harder.
Instead, train, take precaution, and puppy-proof your house. For your dog’s safety, the longevity of your belongings, and the sake of your nervous system.

5. Get the essentials

There is a lot of advice online about what you should get for your puppy, and most of it includes a lot of money for unnecessary stuff. For example you don’t need to buy a puppy blanket. If you are able to stay warm at home, your puppy will have no problems with cold. If you find your puppy feeling cold you will work it out better that buying an overpriced puppy blanket from the pet store. Give them an old sweater.

If tomorrow is the day your new dog comes home get these:

  • FOOD. I searched the whole internet about this before I got my first dog. I burnt my mind. Note that there are no standards here. If you ask 20 experts you will likely get 20 different answers. What is good food for my dog might be less good for yours. A suitable diet (raw/dry/cooked meals) for my dog can be detrimental (I have seen it) for yours. I went from a super premium dog food to a less premium one and it sat better with Aria. So, don’t fall right away for the grain-free, super holistic, human-grade, organic, best food in the market. You might have to change a brand or two until you find the one. One is for sure, your new dog will need good food soon after they come in. This will warm their heart.
  • A nice bed. Give your dog some personal space. A bed, a corner, their space. You don’t need to buy those overpriced beds for dogs. Be creative. Find old pillows and cushions and create a cozy corner. Old cushions are a better start if you expect a puppy that likes to rip up fluffy stuff and pees everywhere.
  • 2 Bowls. For food and water.
  • Toys. Puppies are either asleep or playful. Since you can’t constantly be there to play with them, give them some interesting and fun toys to keep them busy. Chewing toys are the best.
  • Harness and leash. Don’t spend much because your dog(s) will need new equipment as they grow fast.
After a few days and nights, your dog will be feeling like home. They won’t be missing their mom, they will have you. They won’t be missing their sibling. They will have you. 
It seems like a good time for a visit to the vet.

As always, complete this post with your recommendations, insights, or questions in the comment section (they are all answered). And if you feel like it, share the post with your dog folks.

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