When you first get a puppy, the excitement of bringing home a fluffy bundle can be a little overwhelming - especially when children are involved. The main points of focus when you initially get them will probably not be where to register them at the vets, what insurance policy to go for (if you decide to take out insurance which is another conversation entirely), and what food will be best, but will perhaps go down the route of what to name them, what colour collar will look the cutest and when you’ll be able to talk them on their first walk. It’s just the way it goes with kids; they’re not concerned about the nitty-gritty of owning a pet - that’s up to you.
Take out insurance
If you can afford a huge, unexpected bill landing in front of you then by all means don’t take out insurance. If that idea sounds daunting, scary and like something you can’t afford, then an insurance plan is definitely the route to take. Do some searching on comparison websites to get an idea of what your best deal will be and take out the most cover that you can afford to pay on a monthly or yearly basis. In some cases you may find that you will never have had to rely on your insurance for a payout - but it’s always good to have backup, just in case.
Register with a good vet
Word of mouth is vital when it comes to finding a vet that you can trust. Just as some doctors aren’t people persons, some vets aren’t animal people despite working with your pets for a living - they’re there to do their job and caring personalities are a bonus on top of this. If your dog does not feel comfortable with them or they are not giving you the advice that you are specifically asking for, consider a change. A simple request on social media for those who have had good or bad experiences with local veterinary practices will help you make your decision.
Basic recall is an essential for any dog. If you have had previous experience with training animals, then puppy classes may not be necessary. If you have had no previous experience, then it is good for you and, if you have them, your children to attend puppy classes, as it helps with showing them the responsibilities of keeping the puppy under control and will also help with the socialising aspect of your pet’s personality. You will learn some tips along the way, too. Learning to walk well on the lead is not something that comes naturally to a puppy, so be patient and go with the flow. Don’t compare your dog to others in the class; each breed is different and will require a different length of time to get to certain milestones, such as toilet training. Keep up the training outside of the classes and don’t leave it as a once-a-week activity - you may forget the training quicker than the dog does! If you make it into a habit to go over tricks and commands at least once a day, then you will be set for the long-term.
Let everyone know they’re yours
Microchipping your dog is an important thing to do, both for your peace of mind and the safety of your pet. There are different laws for different states regarding the identification of dogs, but it is always best to err on the side of caution and get a tag for your pet regardless. Custom dog tags can be bought and engraved to your specifications so that if your dog were to escape and become lost, there will be an easy way for the finder to get in touch with you. Dog theft is unfortunately a growing crime, so making yourselves known around the neighbourhood will help should the worst happen - it may be that a neighbour or a friend has spotted them being walked elsewhere or noticed some unusual activity coming from your home.
Get the right stuff
Just as you would if you were bringing home a baby, make sure that your house is fully prepared. Don’t leave anything out that you wouldn’t want ruined; puppies are unpredictable little creatures that go through a period of teething just like children do! They may not ever grow out of it if not disciplined correctly. Ensure that you have the correct harness/collar and lead for their size and a safe place for them to go within your home. Get treats for training, toys for playing and the right food according to their size and their age. It’s a foolproof plan to a great start!
Check the background
Some people are buying ‘pedigree’ puppies with forged papers or no papers of all - often handing over wads of hard-earned cash for the privilege to do so. A lot of puppy mills are operating across the country, so make sure that you are happy with everything you see when you purchase your pet. If not everything seems just-so, question until you know that you are sure of everything. Make sure that you see your pet’s mother - if there are excuses made that she is out on a walk or is afraid of new visitors, be persistent; she’s probably not there at all. Avoid buying puppies from pet stores and do your research into reputable breeders in your locality. There are so many groups on social media sites which are dedicated to providing you the best information that you can get about breeders in your area, and it’s all done to prevent more dogs going into shelters. If you are clued up about the highs and lows of owning a puppy, you will be less likely to place them up for adoption. When stuff comes as a surprise or as a difficulty, owners are more likely to part with their dogs. Make sure that you check the background of the puppy you’re getting and the breed you have chosen so you know you have absolutely everything covered - but most of all, enjoy your new member of the family!