Any pet parent will tell you that owning a puppy can be almost as much work as having a baby.
In fact, having a new puppy requires just as much attention and care as its human counterpart.
But don’t get us wrong. Despite the time-consuming effort it takes, having a puppy is so rewarding in the long run. You have human’s best friend doting on you every second, and there’s nothing better than coming home to a furry friend wagging its tail and wriggling its body happily.
Your life will change, and only for the better. But first, you’ll need to be prepared to commit.
So before you go on and adopt a new puppy, here’s what to expect in the first month of your new, beautiful life together.
Regular visits to the vet
Forget you ever owned nice shoes
Fact: Puppies love to play.
On days where you have plenty of time to tire your pup out with lots of playtime, great. But not so on days where you’re too tired after a long day at work.
If you tend to leave your shoes out in the open, perhaps it’s time to resign to the fact that your shoes will soon end up as chew toys.
But it’s not just shoes that your new puppy will go after — it’s likely to be most things within sight, so be sure to puppy-proof your home (if it’s an indoor dog) by keeping all chewable items that can be swallowed, out of sight.
Hide all electric cables and cordon off any rooms where you wouldn’t want your pup to go potty in.
Mealtimes will help you bond
It sounds time-consuming, but hand-feeding your puppy in its first week home is a great way to bond with it. This is also a great way to kick start the training process and teach it simple tricks such as how to sit and stay.
Hand-feeding is also a good opportunity to teach them to have a soft bite – so they don’t lunge forward and accidentally bite your hand for a treat the next time, and discourage eating their food too quickly.
Don’t unintentionally reward unwanted behaviour by feeding it when your pup jumps or barks. Doing so will only reinforce the behaviour you don’t want, when it gets hungry.
Also be sure to set regular meal times instead of making food available all day, so your new pup doesn’t become overweight.
Socialising is a must
Your puppy’s first 16 weeks are its most formative period, so everything it experiences during this time will likely stick with it throughout its life.
This means that it’s important you spend as much time as possible creating plenty of positive experiences with it.
One of these experiences is socialising your puppy, whether it’s with other animals or human beings, and making sure that these experiences are happy, friendly, and positive so your puppy will grow up to be a friendly, well-adjusted dog.
Make learning fun
Because your puppy’s first 16 weeks will determine it’s future character and temperament, it’s also the perfect time to incorporate training into this period.
Obviously you’re not training a police dog, so there’s no need to take on a rigid, military approach — the goal for most pet owners is to make the process a fun experience with a good mix of training and playing so your pup enjoys it too.
Start with simple tricks such as sit, stay, down, roll over, high five, giving the paw, and more.
You can gradually fold more serious commands such as “drop it” or “give”, into the plan to make their assimilation into your household a lot easier.
Be prepared for a lot of pee and poop
Like babies, your puppy won’t be able to control its bladder very well — just a burst of excitement can trigger an ‘accident’.
The good news is that potty training is a relatively straightforward process, although it’ll take time and plenty of patience.
When starting out, always start by bringing your new puppy out for a potty run first thing in the morning and the last thing before bed. In between, aim bring it out for a potty break after playtimes and after meals.
If you have a garden where your pup can go for its potty breaks, try designating one specific area where it can do the deed, and bring it there every single time.
If you’re not going to be home for most of the day, be sure to confine it to one area of the house with a playpen, and put its bed in one corner, with pee pads in another corner.
Puppy accidents are to be expected, so it helps to be prepared for them so you can spend more time enjoying your time with your new pup rather than worrying about avoiding and cleaning up messes.
Want to make your home more puppy-friendly? Start with your sofa by giving it a removable, machine-washable sofa slipcover that’ll make your sofa less of a hassle to keep clean. Take our sofa slipcover fabrics for a test run here: