Bringing home a puppy is an incredibly rewarding experience, but also an enormous responsibility. Most first-time puppy owners have no idea just how much their life will change when they bring home their new puppy—and my experience was no different. Before you bring your lovable new friend home, here are 5 secrets and tips most new puppy owners don’t know.
Obsessed with Poop
Non-puppy owners are blissfully unaware of just how much attention to poop puppies actually require. My husband and I routinely discuss the frequency, consistency, and size of our puppies poop- and we are not alone. Other dog owners at the dog park we frequent join in our discussions and seek advice for the irregular bowel movements of their own dogs in turn. One of the great secrets of puppy parenthood is that dog owners are seemingly obsessed with their dog’s poop, and with good reason. A dog’s poop is generally an excellent indicator of health, and a sudden change in bowel movements is nearly always foreshadowing a visit to the vet.
The first few weeks after bringing our puppy home were a blur of exhaustion. A rule of thumb with puppies is that they have to go outside to go to the bathroom every few hours, the hours between breaks should equal the weeks of the dog’s age divided by 2. So, when we brought home our 8-week-old puppy, he needed to go out to do his business every 3-4 hours- even through the night. So we needed to set alarms are walk him every few hours through the night to ensure he was getting the chance to go to the bathroom outside of the crate. The more frequently your puppy can go potty outside, the easier and faster potty training will be.
Walks Take Practice
Puppies are not born knowing how to walk on a leash. In fact, puppies are not born wearing a collar, either, and these things take practice to get used to. Puppy collars need to be snug enough to prevent accidental injury but loose enough to allow for easy breathing, and walks on the least take practice. Most puppies are content to sit on the sidewalk or in the grass while their owner gently tugs on the leash to move them along. Patience and consistency are necessary for many aspects of puppy parenthood- even the simple act of learning to walk on the leash.
Not All Veterinarians are Created Equal
Veterinarians, like doctors, should be a good fit for both doctor and (four-legged) patient. If your puppy is scared of your veterinarian before his first shot, you might consider trying a different vet for your puppy. Before choosing a veterinarian, it is always a good idea to check reviews and references of the hospital, and if you have a specialty breed, be sure to verify that the veterinarian can meet the needs of your dog. Additionally, you should make sure that the vet you choose provides all the services you want from them or can provide a reference for things like rehabilitative care, nail trims or dental services, and alternative care. It’s important to know what your vet will provide.
Consider Pet Health Insurance
Pet health insurance is a growing norm among pet owners- and it’s one that can potentially save you from financial ruin and provide a comforting peace of mind. Before committing to a specific policy, be sure to do your research and make sure the one you select covers the anticipated needs of your dog. Research common health problems for your dog’s breed. Try to find a policy that will cover those conditions and understand anything pre-existing cannot be covered. Additionally, be sure you pay attention to deductibles and caps. A good pet insurance policy will protect you in the long run, as long as it fits the needs of your puppy and budget. You can’t anticipate everything that your puppy will get into, but you can bet that at some point an emergency vet visit may be necessary— that’s when pet health insurance will come in handy.
About the Author
Mallory Lacoste is a proud Corgi mom and regular at her local dog park. She can be found on Twitter @MalloryLacoste or mallorylacostewrites.com.