When we first adopt a new four-legged family member, it's easy to let the cuteness and belly rubs push everything else out of our minds. And especially when we've just brought home our first puppy, it quickly becomes clear that we're in for a lot more than just cute puppy photos to post on Instagram.
The joys of being a pet parent include a lot of responsibility - and raising a pup right is one of the most satisfying things a family can do together. However, if you're just getting started in the world of pet parenthood, there are a few common pitfalls you can avoid by doing your research.
Here are 5 habits to avoid when you become a new pet parent!
1. Don't skip out on puppy training classes.
This one feels obvious, but obedience training is critical for a puppy's social and independent growth. An in-person class, offered through many pet stores and independent trainers, is a great way to get your puppy started with socialization and basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "come."
P.S. If your local pet store or trainer isn't offering in-person classes right now, check out virtual offerings online! Many pet stores have switched their obedience training classes to one-on-one sessions via video chat. There are still wonderful resources to try out!
2. Don't buy too many toys.
We know, we know. One of the first things we do as new pet owners is buy the entire toy section of the pet store. However, having too many toys to choose from can actually cause anxiety for your dog, or lead to one favorite toy chosen above the others, and a pile of unused toys gathering dust in the closet. When just starting out, it's a good idea to get 4 or 5 toys of different types (i.e. a rope toy, a durable chew, a plush toy, and a puzzle toy). From there, you can experiment with this smaller collection to find out what your pup likes -- and what she's likely to destroy.
3. Don't wait to introduce your puppy to other dogs -- but also, don't overwhelm him with too much socialization too early.
Socialization is a key factor of a dog's manners as he grows up. You'll need to know how your dog will react to changes, like new people, children, other dogs, or "unexpecteds" like passing cars or loud noises. Socialization, or introducing your dog to these people and things over time, is the best way to get him used to these new stimuli and be on his best behavior.
Generally, the rule of thumb is to wait on the dog park until your pup gets his rabies shot and other vaccines around four months. Some states and counties have other mandates in place for dog restrictions (especially privately-owned dog parks), so before you rush to the park, look up your local rules. And when it comes to socialization, don't wait too long to start, but start slow: Introduce your pup to one or two new dogs, people, or stimuli at a time so he doesn't get overwhelmed.
4. Don't forget to puppy-proof your home.
Before you adopted your dog, how many times did you walk the house looking for things you don't want her chewing on? If your answer is "zero," it's time to drop everything and put away your crucial electronics.
Even if you did an initial sweep of your home to check for puppy dangers, it's a good idea to do a second or third for items that have sentimental value, objects you don't want your puppy to go potty on, or unseen dangers. (And don't beat yourself up when your puppy makes a beeline for something you didn't think of within two seconds of getting home -- it happens to all of us. Just keep an eye on her until you know she's learned her environment!)
5. Don't wait til the last minute to book your puppy checkup.
Finally, book your puppy's first vet appointment as soon as you know when you're bringing him home. Puppies have a series of critical immunizations they need between three and six months, which means you'll need to find a trusted vet ASAP to keep your new pup up to speed.
Many vets have wait times for new patients, especially in current times, so don't wait to book your dog's first vet appointment, particularly if you know she's got shots due soon.
At Frenchie Bulldog, we LOVE hearing your stories of new pet adoptions (and seeing just how small our XS hoodies look on your tiny pups). For the best in comfort leashes, collars, and harnesses, check out our new arrivals! We're here to help make your new pet's introduction to the family as fun -- and fashionable -- as it can be!