by Bianca Bujan
There’s no doubt that children love puppies, and it can be easy to give in to their sweet little pleas to add a furry friend to the family, especially while we’re spending more time at home. But just like the decision to have a child should be very well thought out, so should be the decision to adopt a pet. Cuddles and kisses aside, you need to be prepared for the sleepless nights, nibbled-on shoes, and late-night walks, too.
Many people rush into adopting a pet without thinking about the long-term impact that their decision will have on the life of that pet – and themselves, so to help you determine if adding a furry friend to your family is the right decision, we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to prepare for your potential puppy.
1) Do your research.
Different breeds have different needs, personality traits, and health concerns. While you may swoon over certain sorts of puppies, make sure you know what to expect before you add that puppy to your plans. Here in North America, dog breeds are separated into 7 general categories: sporting dogs (Labradors, Golden Retrievers), hounds (Dachshunds, Foxhounds), working dogs (Boxers, Great Danes), terriers (Jack Russell, Scottish), toy dogs (Chihuahuas, Pugs), herding dogs (German Shepherds, Collies), and companion dogs (Poodles, Bulldogs). It’s important to understand each breed before you make your pick. Research online, ask friends who have had the same breed, and make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make your final decision.
2) Consider fostering first.
The BC SPCA and other rescue organizations offer the opportunity to foster pets, bringing the pet into your home and providing them with the socialization and love they need as they recover from illnesses or injuries, or wait to find their forever homes. This is a great way to help pets in need, and test your family’s ability to care for a pet before you make the lifelong commitment.
3) Adopt, don’t shop.
While there are definitely some reputable breeders out there, there are also so many dogs in care that are looking for their forever homes, and many of those dogs’ lives end in euthanization if they’re not adopted. Consider taking in a dog that is slightly older, and enjoy the benefits of adopting from a shelter, such as many rescued dogs are already socialized and house trained, easing the earlier challenges that you may face when adding a puppy to your family.
4) Invest in puppy classes.
You’ll want to make sure that your puppy learns how to socialize appropriately with other dogs and people, and listens to you when out in public, so puppy classes are a must. Before you bring your puppy home, look into the reputable puppy classes available in your area, and find out the teaching technique used by the instructors, the ideal entry age for the puppy classes, and the equipment you’ll need to get started.
5) Get the whole family involved.
From day one, make sure that everyone in the family is involved in feeding, walking, training, and rewarding your puppy. While there will usually be one primary person that the dog will attach to early on, you’ll want the puppy to know and trust every member in your family and develop a healthy bond with them from the beginning.
6) Be prepared to carry the load.
While children are often the ones who push for a puppy, be aware that they will quickly lose interest, especially as your dog grows bigger and older. While it’s important to keep kids engaged in the process of raising a puppy, know that you’ll end up carrying the load – walking, picking up the poop, bathing, feeding, and caring for that pup for years to come. Many dogs live for 10-13 years, are you ready to care for them for that long?
7) Always scoop the poop.
Picking up poop may be gross but it’s something you’ll have to do for as long as you have your pup. Be prepared with a large supply of doggy poo bags, and if you can, opt for the compostable kind so that you keep the planet healthy while also keeping your neighbourhood clean.
8) Vet your vet.
Before adding a puppy to your family, research a good vet in your area. Like choosing a family doctor, be sure to pick someone who will take good care of your pet and listen to your concerns. If you can, ask for referrals, and enquire about the vet’s approach to pets and medicine. Look for somewhere closer to home, choose someone who’s friendly and approachable, and make sure that your chosen vet fits within your budget, too.
9) Don’t skimp on shots.
Not only do regular vaccines keep your pet healthy, but many dog daycares and boarding facilities require updated vaccination records before caring for your pet. Your puppy will need a round of shots early on, updates around one year, and then regular boosters and updates regularly throughout their lives. Be sure you know the costs ahead of time so there are no surprises.
10) Be equipped with the right equipment.
Besides dog food, there’s a list of equipment you’ll need to raise a pup. From leashes, crates, and treats, to grooming tools, dog beds, and chew toys, it’s important to make sure you have everything you need before bringing puppy home.