Before bringing home my pup I researched for ages, and I mean ages. I think it was almost a year between deciding to get a dog and then actually bringing one home. But I still made mistakes and there is definitely things I’d do differently next time. Hopefully these tips will help you out!
1 Research breeds thoroughly to make sure you’re getting the one that fits with your preferences, home and lifestyle.
I lived in a flat when I got my puppy, so I needed a small, low shedding breed but one that was quite active as I walk a lot and didn’t want to end up carrying the little floofball! A long haired chihuahua was the right match for me but I was very aware of their watchdog ability and reservations of strangers. As long as you know the downsides and are willing to work at them, that’s all that matters. There will be pros and cons to every breed.
2 Be prepared to lose sleep.
Getting a puppy felt like having a new baby in the house! I was very lucky with how quickly Tiger learnt but she still whined for a couple of hours every night for the first 2 or 3 nights and also pooped and cried whenever she was left alone. I built up leaving her from 3 seconds to 5 hours very quickly but it still took a lot patience. If you get a rescue dog, they may still whine and cry at first as they’ll be in a strange place, although some may settle straight away.
3 Research dog friendly pubs, parks and shops.
Your pup will need socialising and many pubs and shops are now dog friendly! Having an idea of these will help decide when to take your pooch and when to leave him at home.
4 Expect your life to change.
When going out for the day you’ll need to make sure someone can be there for the pup if you won’t be back within 5 to 6 hours and you’ll have to make pooch arrangements when you go on holiday. There are lots of dog friendly hotels and accommodation so if you want to take pup with you, just make sure you do your research.
5 Learn how to train using positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement training focuses on rewarding good behaviour rather than punishing bad behaviour. If a dog is punished it evokes fear and can lead to aggression or behaviour problems. By rewarding, the dog will be eager to perform good behaviour which will result in a good and happy dog!
6 Go to puppy/training class.
This is not only fun for both owner and dog but an important part of socialising in a controlled environment. Letting pup have good experiences with other dogs and people builds confidence and eliminates fear.
7 Set rules before you bring pup home so you can be consistent in training.
Consistency is key to training. Decide your boundaries and write them down before bringing your dog home so everyone in the household can stick to them. Will he be allowed on the sofa? Will he have to sit for his dinner? How will you handle accidents? etc.
8 Remember that you’ll have to get dirty!
There will be walks in the rain/mud, poop situations and occasional sick. If you’re not outdoorsy and you like your house kept in pristine condition, now is the time to change! Just to give you an idea; on the third day of having Tiger Lily she ate her own poop and threw it up in bed! EW.
Having a dog will not only get you dirty, but it will also leave a lot of fur on your clothes. You should take some precautions before throwing your clothes into the uni washer. Otherwise, the pet hair can clump and damage the uni washing machine or drainage system. By using pet hair remover balls in your laundry, you can prevent clothing damage, scrub droplets, reduce wrinkles, and most importantly, remove fur. Now you can dress out nicely while still having a pet.
9 Research breeders thoroughly!
It’s incredibly difficult to find a reputable breeder. Stay away from puppy farms, pet shops and adverts on Gumtree. Make sure you meet both the puppy parents and ask to see their health certificates. Make sure the puppies are being well looked after and ideally check to see if they have been raised around other animals and children (if these factors are apparent in your house). Get an idea for the temperaments of mum and dad as this will have some influence over the personality of your little pup.
10 Register with a vet.
You’ll need to make sure your dog is microchipped, vaccinated, flead and wormed. The breeder should let you know whether all these things are up to date but you will be responsible for regular vaccinations, fleeing and worming.
11 Keep puppy healthy!
Read up on which food would be best for your dog. There will be special puppy/adult/senior food depending on the age and remember to check the ingredients. Since I’ve been feeding Tiger raw food her skin and fur have improved, not to mention she absolutely loves it!
Regular trips to the groomers are also a must if your dog has a high maintenance coat. Neglect leads to matting!
My life has changed considerably since bringing Tiger Lily home but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Do you have a dog yet?
Is there anything you’d do differently next time?
Feel free to share more tips in the comments!
Words and photos by Effi Summers