What decisions to make when you are expecting a puppy!

Puppy on sofa

A friend asked me recently for some advice about what preparations she should make for when her new puppy arrives. As I began writing I realised this is probably something I should share with those in the wider community expecting new additions to their families.

Important puppy stuff

You need to be ready for when your puppy arrives. You may have bought lots of toys and shiny leads but there are some very important decisions to make and decide on before puppy even comes home.

vet

  1. Vets – we use our local one. It’s easier and convenient and if I did have to make an emergency dash, it’s not far. Don’t get me wrong vets do their job professionally and we need them, but I find the same issues with them wherever I go. I would love a vets where you see the same vet each time and felt they knew and really did care for your pet but that’s not happened so far! It might just be me.
  2. Vaccinations – obviously very important. You must vaccinate your puppy, especially for the main diseases, Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza. But again I find all vets vary. My breeder said I only had to have the Lepto 2 (this is for Leptospirosis – a disease from rat and foxes urine with 2 strains) but the vets said I should have Lepto 4 (4 strains). I asked lots of questions about the differences etc but they didn’t really convince me one way or the other. It is a bit of a minefield, I’m afraid, and areas around the country will vary according to the latest research/information.
  3. Insurance – if you are getting a dog then you need to understand that you will be paying out a lot of money if they are ill or injure someone else.  Some people recommend not insuring for the first year (as insurance tends to be cheaper once they know your dog doesn’t have any known illnesses) and to self-insure (save some money each month). Again this choice is yours but it’s risky. We live in a fast, moving world, heavily congested with traffic, where you can be sued for accidents caused by your dog.

We went with the Kennel Club in the end (after many conversations with all the main insurance companies) and to be honest as they were doing a 4 months half price it worked out cheaper but with the same benefits all the other companies offered. I spoke to two dog owners recently (didn’t know them) and they were discussing treatment they had and had not been allowed. Same dog complaint but the insurance company paid out for one owner and not the other. Both were with Pet Plan! Again this is a personal choice and hard one.

What else must you consider when expecting a puppy?

My friend also asked me what we thought we had got right with our new puppy and what we would do differently if we could.

What we did right?

puppies playing with toy together

  • Starting training the first day puppy came home.
  • Went/still going to puppy classes.
  • Used a crate (she had 2 nights in our bedroom and then straight downstairs to where she has stayed ever since).
  • Socialized!! You can’t do enough of this. Get them meeting all sorts of dogs and ages in different environments.
  • Strict about mealtimes and what they eat.

puppy eating food outside

What we did wrong?

puppy getting on sofa

  • We (husband and children) weren’t all consistent! I said no to the sofa and my husband said yes. So Coco now sleeps on the sofa (but not at bedtime).
  • We (husband and children) weren’t all consistent! We began taking her to certain spot to go to the toilet but everyone got bored so there are lots of wee spots in the garden.
  • We (husband and children) weren’t all consistent! Training gets boring after a while and everyone (husband and children) stopped following the rules and commands.

So as you can see the number one rule IMO is BE CONSISTENT with whatever you decide to do. Remember that they become adolescents at 6 months so the more training you do now, the easier that will be. Although I haven’t got to that stage yet and that may well be a different story or blog!

What does your new puppy need?

Coco the Doberman
Meet the new addition

In my last post (which was an eternity ago) I raised the question of what a puppy actually needs when they arrive in your home. In a world where we are bombarded with marketing experts who show us what we must have, it’s hard to know what is essential.

Having now shared my home with our new puppy for two months, I can now answer that question. You may have already guessed, as it’s taken me so long to write another post, but the answer is time!

hourglass full of red sand

In an ideal world you really need to not have a job, social life or indeed any other commitments which will take your focus off your puppy for more than 10 seconds.

So what else do you need for a new puppy?

Back in June I wrote that you need ‘care and attention’. I should have said you need ‘eyes in the back of your head’. Four pairs of eyes would be useful, along with quick reaction times, a good standard of fitness and a life devoid of anything else except watching and training your puppy!

4 pairs of eyes

‘Eyes in the back of your head’ are good for the times when you believe your puppy is at one end of the room as you try to sort out the laundry only to find your puppy has managed to get to the washing basket undetected and is now eating a pair of socks.

‘Four pairs of eyes’ are good for when you believe your puppy is still sleeping peacefully on the lawn outside when in actual fact they are finding escape routes out of the garden, pulling washing off the line, digging holes and eating fox poo all in a matter of seconds.

Coco chewing slipper

‘Quick reaction times’ are necessary when your puppy decides to squat right in front of you to do a wee or poo and you have to scoop them up to get them outside. This skill is also essential when they are running off with your latest bank statement or other paper document, flip-flop or slipper or seem to be chewing on something when breakfast was finished two hours ago.

Man doing press ups

‘A good standard of fitness’ is required to keep up with the ninja style moves of your puppy, as they run one way and then another, as you chase them for the above items.

Okay, maybe I am exaggerating slightly here but you get the idea. Yes, they still need feeding, love and exercise but from the moment you get your puppy, you will be active until they sleep.

Understand how a puppy ages

If every human year equates to seven dog years then at the age of 8 weeks, when you bring your puppy home, they are like a baby of one year and four months. They are walking (just) but sleep a lot and everything is new to them. They are more cautious and afraid of new noises and experiences and will want to stay by your side. Everything they do is cute and funny. We reward them for biting our noses and digging little holes in the garden.

At the age of 12 weeks, your puppy is similar to a two year old ( 1 year and 9 months old). A moving, inquisitive creature who gets under your feet and into trouble. We call the baby years, ‘the terrible twos’ and the same applies to puppies!

dog looking sheepish

They will love to dig holes in your manicured lawn and enjoy watching you fill it in so they can dig it up again the next day. When they ask to go outside and then two seconds later come back inside again, you will find a wee or poo by the back door but in the house. They will not want the chew toys you bought and prefer your expensive trainers, kindly left by the back door for them. Your hand, jumper and ankles are also very good chew toys that your puppy will enjoy. Puppies will sleep a lot but normally when you need them to go for a walk before going to work. And they will continue to become more inquisitive, bolder and stronger. And as they get older, their cute little ways are now not so funny.

Puppy as entertainment

Those of you old enough will remember the slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ when the country had a growing problem with people buying a puppy as christmas present and then getting bored  and unable to cope with a growing dog into January. Now, sadly it seems we have to say the same for the summer holidays. A report in the Times on Sunday this week stated that there had been a large number of calls to rescue centres around the country about giving up the family dogs who were only wanted to entertain the children for the summer holidays. Dogs Trust had an increase of 50% in calls about rehoming unwanted dogs last Monday and Tuesday when the children went back to school.

Child jumping in air with dog next to him

This phenomena coined “Mary Puppins” is not new. Lots of people buy a puppy for the summer holidays so the children can play with it and be entertained. The problem is when people realise that they don’t have the time to dedicate to it, especially with everyone returning to school and work after the holidays. Battersea Dogs home reported that they had an increase in calls in July and August about rehoming pets because the owners wanted to go on holiday!

Do you have the time?

This morning I was walking with a fellow dog owner who complained that his dog never returned to him when called. When I asked him if he had tried dog training classes he answered that he didn’t have the time. He also never had the time to take this dog to puppy classes and only got the dog for the children when they passed their piano and violin grades!

So this is a plea for anyone thinking about getting a puppy. Just do me one favour and ask yourself, “Do I have the time?” because this really is the most important thing a puppy needs.

Mum hugging puppy