The full-body wiggles. The puppy breath. The lazy afternoon snuggles on the couch. Is there anything more perfect than a puppy? We don’t think so! But, although puppy ownership has many wonderful aspects, raising a pup into a great family companion requires a lot of work. You can set your puppy up for success by creating a solid foundation, and mitigating all those frustrating behaviors that are part of raising a set of teeth on legs. With proper preparation and training, you can—mostly—avoid chewed furniture, peed-in shoes, trash catastrophes, and other potential puppy disasters. Our Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team outlines tips for setting your puppy up for success, so you can avoid all the troubles that can come with raising a new pup.  

#1: Find the pet that is a perfect fit for your family

You won’t think your puppy is a good dog unless they are the right fit for your family. For example, if you live in a studio apartment by yourself, a teacup Chihuahua you can tote in your purse might be ideal. But, that 100-pound Labrador stampeding through your 500-square-foot space is a different story. Before picking a puppy based on their adorable factor, consider what works best for your family, home, and lifestyle. 

#2: Compare pet health insurance plans before bringing your puppy home

Puppies can quickly wreck a budget, especially if they’re sock-eaters. Although we hope you never end up in a veterinary emergency hospital with your new pup, prepare for the worst with a pet health insurance policy. Many policies cover not only accidents and illnesses, but also routine wellness care and prescriptions. Enroll in a plan immediately after you bring your puppy home, to reduce the potential for exclusion of pre-existing conditions and ensure maximum coverage.

#3: Puppy-proof your home

Going hand-in-hand with staying out of that emergency room, ensure your home is puppy-proofed against a furry vacuum. Your pup is likely to clean up anything in their path, as puppies explore their environment with their mouths. Keep toxic foods, plants, small toys, clothing, and other tasty, but inedible, items well out of your pet’s reach. Lock cleaning chemicals behind closed doors, ensure your puppy can’t reach medications, and hide the trash can if necessary. If your puppy is chewing on something they shouldn’t, like the TV remote, swap out the item with an actual chew toy. Don’t try to snatch your pup’s toy, because they’ll likely think it’s a game and take off running, or quickly gulp down the forbidden item. 

#4: Purchase your puppy’s necessary supplies

Imagine getting home with your new puppy, only to realize you forgot to purchase a crate. Rather than letting your pup run wild while you’re at work the next day, ensure you’re fully prepared for your new pet by stocking up on the essentials prior to welcoming day. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Food and water dishes
  • Size- and age-appropriate puppy food
  • Training treats
  • Long-lasting treats
  • Chew toys
  • Leash
  • Harness or collar
  • Collar ID tags
  • Waste bags
  • Enzymatic cleaner
  • Appropriate-sized crate
  • Puppy pads, if desired
  • Bedding

This list will get you through at least the first night—although neither of you may get much sleep.

#5: Schedule a wellness visit for your puppy

Set your puppy up for a long, healthy life with regular wellness care that starts as soon as you bring them home. Schedule a wellness visit with our Kennedy Heights veterinarian to ensure your puppy’s vaccinations are on track, begin parasite prevention, and check for intestinal worms. Your pet will need a series of appointments to be fully protected from infectious, life-threatening diseases, such as distemper, parvovirus, and leptospirosis. Their final puppy appointment will end with boosters of these vaccinations, along with a rabies vaccination. During their appointment series, we’ll discuss diet and nutrition, behavior management, training needs, grooming, parasite prevention, spaying or neutering, and much more. 

#6: Enroll your puppy in a training course

Training is essential for a great family companion and a well-mannered pup. A good puppy training course teaches the basics of obedience and common commands, and also provides important socialization lessons. Ideally, your puppy should be exposed to as many new people, pets, and places as possible before they’re 4 months old, to minimize fear and anxiety later. However, this socialization process must be positive and proceed at your puppy’s pace. Negative experiences during the socialization period can create a lasting bad memory, so monitor your puppy’s mood and body language closely to ensure they’re having fun interacting with new people and places.

When welcoming your new puppy home, the first order of business is to schedule a wellness visit to ensure they’re in tip-top shape and to begin their preventive care. Our Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team can’t wait to meet your new four-legged friend! Give us a call to schedule your puppy’s first visit.