Bringing home a cute new pet is exciting, but it’s important to be prepared. These new members of the family are financial, physical, and emotional commitments. They need love, exercise, and care daily to live their best lives. Though getting a pet is a big responsibility, you’ll find it can be an incredibly rewarding one.
Pets can have a profound impact on your mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. They also encourage exercise and social opportunities, and can decrease feelings of loneliness, thereby supporting a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle.
It’s best to start preparing for your new furry family member as soon as possible. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing you already have everything you need, and can focus those first few days on getting your pet acclimated to their new space. You’ll need a range of supplies, from food to crates and toys.
If you’re adopting through a shelter or other formal organization, they may be able to provide a list of basics you’ll need before you take your pet home. Some of these basics include:
Other helpful items for the initial coming-home period may include spot-cleaner, if your home has carpet, and a baby gate to prevent your puppy from getting in rooms they’re not supposed to be in.
Additionally, you’ll want to try and coordinate with the shelter or breeder regarding what food they have been feeding your puppy, and try to match this brand when you’re buying food. This can decrease gastrointestinal distress during the first few weeks.
A general rule of thumb to keep in mind while puppy-proofing is that puppies inspect everything with their nose and their mouth. This means anything at their level is liable to be chewed on and/or swallowed. This can be anything from your shoes, to a houseplant, to furniture.
Make sure you’re providing chew toys to encourage chewing on appropriate items, and keep all choking hazards out of their reach. Other general puppy-proofing tips include:
The specifics of puppy proofing your space will depend on the kind of puppy you have, as well as the space you’re living in.
Each room of your house that your puppy has access to will require slightly different preparation methods. You can reduce the amount of puppy-proofing you have to do by purchasing baby gates to keep puppies out. Other tips for each room of your house include:
It’s generally best to keep your puppy completely out of your garage until they get a little bigger. As a small puppy, they could get stuck or hurt, and they might get exposed to lethal amounts of harmful chemicals.
Additionally, they may accidentally be able to access the street, which can also be dangerous if they aren’t trained. If they are in your garage area, be sure to clean up any spills and keep a direct eye on them.
Your outdoor space is likely where your new puppy will spend a lot of time during their life. This is a great place for them to play and explore as they grow. However, there are some hazards your outdoor space can pose to your new dog that you may not even be aware of. To make it as safe and welcoming as possible for your new puppy, follow these tips:
Dogs can be hard on a yard. You may see patches of dead grass, holes, and other signs of wear and tear in the first few weeks. Keeping plenty of toys around and starting training early can help keep your dog from destroying your yard.
You can minimize many risks and dangers to your new friend by focusing on training and reinforcing good behavior. Commands such as “leave it” or “stay” can save your pet’s life in some cases. Potty training is another priority for dog owners, especially at the puppy stage. Creating good habits early on can reduce mess and increase feelings of independence in your dog.
You can train your puppy yourself, or take them to a doggy boot camp. There are pros and cons to each approach. By training your dog yourself, you have an intimate understanding of what works best when training them, which can help you in further training. However, this can take a lot of time and dedication.
A doggy boot camp may achieve your behavioral and training goals for your dog, while still giving you the time in your schedule you need for work, school, or other obligations. However, the adjustment period and upkeep after the training program ends can be difficult. What’s best for you and your dog will depend on your specific circumstances as well as your dog’s personality and needs.
No matter how prepared you are, it’s important to remember that accidents happen. Your puppy is still a baby, sometimes only a few weeks old. Depending on the situation, your pets and any damage they cause may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance.
It’s important to check your policies, or invest in a policy that specifically covers pets. Pet insurance may also be a smart idea for pet owners. Puppies can be particularly prone to accidents, meaning pet insurance will come in handy. Then, as your pets age and become more susceptible to genetic conditions and chronic illness, pet insurance can help with treatment and management.
When you first get a new puppy, there are quite a few medical costs that you’ll see within the first year. This doesn’t include costs associated with training or puppy supplies such as food and toys. Medical costs you can anticipate as a new pet owner include:
Your vet can give you a complete rundown of what medical commitments you should expect in the first year more specific to your puppy’s age and breed. They can also help you understand any genetic predispositions your dog may have because of their breed, which can help you prepare for the future.
There are other places you can find support, both informational, social, and financial as a new pet owner. Pets are a large responsibility, so if you feel like you need help, be sure to reach out to the organizations available to you.
These organizations can help you learn more about being a successful pet owner:
There are organizations designed to provide financial support to pet owners as well. These organizations can help you pay for medical treatments, daily care, medical equipment, and other necessary expenses, depending on your situation. They include, but are not limited to:
These are some national organizations — you can also find regional or local organizations through the Humane Society website. You can find more about the eligibility requirements of each of these organizations on each of their websites.