With Summer coming and school's almost out, you might be considering getting a new puppy. You thought a lot about it over the winter, and the kids have been begging you FOREVER!! The kids are ready, and you are ready.....But..... are you REALLY ready for a new puppy??
Here are a few things to consider before picking out the perfect pup at the breeder, or shelter:
1) What breed will you be getting?
It's not as easy as picking a cute puppy from
the local humane society, or looking for the "best" family dog breed. Researching the breeds, meeting a few in person at different life stages, and consider the best breed for YOUR family (lifestyle, personalities, extra-curriculars, etc.).
A good place to start is with with your local veterinarian, or a certified dog trainer.
2) Do you have a couple of weeks to dedicate your time to the puppy while he/she adapts to the family?
There will be a period of adaptation when you bring your puppy home where he/she will some time to adjust and settle into the routine. Usually 7-10 days is the average time a puppy will need to adjust to a feeding schedule, potty training, crate/pen training, sleep schedule, play schedule, etc. If you can take time off work, if the kids are home from school for the summer, that's the perfect time to dedicate to your puppy.
3) Do you have a training plan?
Puppies need lots of training, In addition to potty training, and crate/pen training, puppies need proper socialization, basic obedience (like walking on a leash) and puppy manners (no jumping, handling, bite inhibition). Ask your local veterinarian for a certified dog trainer, or check out APDT or CAPPDT for certified trainers in your area.
4) What do you need to buy before you get your puppy?
The breeder may provide you with a few essentials for the first few days (food, bed, toys) and the shelter may also provide you with some basics or things that the dog had at the shelter (toys, blanket) but there are many things that you will need before puppy comes home.
If you will be crate training, an appropriately sized crate will be essential before puppy comes home. A travel crate may also be necessary for the ride home from the breeder/shelter. Food, treats, chew toys, bowls, grooming tools, puppy shampoo, leash/collar/harness. These are just a few things needed before you go to pick up the puppy. The breeder may provide you with a list of essentials, or refer to a new puppy checklist like this one: https://www.petsmart.ca/learning-center/dog-care/what-to-get-for-your-new-puppy/A0208.html
Creating a budget for the first year will really help out with those one-time expenses like the purchase price of the dog , veterinary visits including well-checks, shots, and spay/neuter. First big shopping trip, and yearly city identification. Ongoing costs can be budgeted monthly for food, treats and toys.
5) What is life with a puppy going to be like?
The best question to ask yourself..how will my life change once I get a puppy? A puppy will definitely change your life, there will be ups and downs, but the biggest reward is getting those puppy cuddles, and that lifelong friend. With proper planning and training, consistency and dedication, this will be the best decision you made.
Jessica MacGregor, ACDBC, CPDT-KA
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
Certified Professional Dog Trainer