Becoming a pet parent -- whether your first time or not -- is exciting. It's a rewarding experience full of love and excitement, but it also requires preparation and time.
Here is a breakdown of what you need to know before you bring your new furry family member home.
A puppy is a lot of work, especially when you first bring them home. You need to have the time and energy to give them the proper care they need. (And if you don't have the time, there are plenty of senior dogs who would be eager to give you love and affection.)
Before you bring them home, make sure your home is puppy-proofed and safe for them:
It's going to take some time for both you and your puppy to adjust to your new relationship.
It's important to microchip your pet as soon as you adopt them; in fact, most shelters require it, since it can help you find your pet in the unfortunate case that they get lost. (Note: pet insurance may cover the cost of microchip implantation.)
After your puppy is microchipped, register and license your puppy and include the chip number in the information.
While you need to be flexible and gentle with your new puppy when they first come home, you'll also need to set expectations and rules from the start by housetraining them. That means starting a routine for mealtimes, bathroom breaks, playtime, crate training, and bedtime.
Puppies require frequent meals (up to five times a day, depending on your pup) and will need to use the bathroom shortly after mealtimes, so this is when you can begin training them, first with a potty pad, then by taking them on regularly scheduled walks.
Once your puppies are healthy enough and fully vaccinated, you can begin taking them on playdates or to dog parks to socialize with other dogs and people.
It'll take time for your puppy to become fully adjusted to their new life, so continue to be patient and loving as they grow. You'll be rewarded with unconditional love.
Finding the right veterinarian is important, so be sure to research nearby vets, read reviews, and ask the shelter, friends, and family for recommendations.
You'll also want to look for an animal hospital that is open 24/7 for emergencies for when you can't get to your vet immediately.
It's essential to take your puppy to the vet as soon as possible for their vaccinations, flea prevention, deworming, and wellness checkups. This way, you can get an overall picture of their health and find out if you need to take any preventative steps.
When you go to your appointment, take any important paperwork you received from the shelter or any information on their medical history.
This is also the perfect time to ask your vet for recommendations on food, treats, and other puppy needs. You can expect your vet will check the following on your puppy:
Vet care bills -- whether it's a wellness appointment, treatment, or emergency -- are expensive. Many pet parents have a hard time covering these bills and some even have to turn down treatment because they can't afford it.
Getting pet insurance as soon as possible is essential: pet insurance providers generally exclude pre-existing conditions, which makes coverage difficult as your pet ages and has a higher risk of developing an illness.
Need more information on pet insurance? Learn more about our top providers here.
Your new puppy is going to need some supplies in addition to love and care. Here's what you need to get started:
Absolutely! Not only can pet insurance help you cover the costs of expensive procedures, but the best time to buy pet insurance and receive the best coverage is when your pets are young and healthy.
There are some important steps you'll need to take once you bring your puppy home: buy some puppy essentials (such as food, bowls, collar, tags, pet bed, etc), begin potty/behavior/crate training, and make sure they have a vet appointment to get an overall assessment of their health.