Tips for A Happy Puppy
by Colleen Paige
National Puppy Day is a day to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives. It’s also a day to help save orphaned puppies across the globe and educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills, as well as further the mission for a nation of puppy-free pet stores. While National Puppy Day supports responsible breeding, the day is all about encouraging prospective families to consider adoption as a first choice.
Choosing the Right Breed & Size
When considering bringing a puppy into your home, make sure that you’ve researched the breed you’re adopting, taking into consideration their size, temperament, activity level, breed characteristics and other needs in relation to your home environment and family lifestyle. When adopting, make sure to ask if you can be alone in a more isolated area to interact with the puppy and observe his or her behavior. Also ask the shelter staff about the personality of the puppy you’re interested in, as they will have spent more time assessing their emotional and behavioral traits.
Not Just a Pet
Never adopt a puppy as a gift for a child, as this turns the puppy into a novelty but rather explain to your children about the overpopulation of pets in shelters and let them know that the puppy is a new family member and needs to be treated with love, respect and patience, just like a new baby would need.
If you have small children, really young, hyper puppies are not a good match because they can scratch and chew on sensitive fingers and hands. Never adopt a puppy that is less than at least 8-10 weeks old, preferably 12 weeks or older, as they have had more time to learn social cues from their litter-mates and mother, which helps a puppy behave better in the long term. Teach young children to never pull on a puppy’s ears or tail, as both are sensitive and could injure and scare the puppy, creating a bonding problem between child and puppy.
Keep in mind that your puppy won’t be a puppy forever. Visualize how much your puppy will grow and how much they’ll eat. Make sure you know ahead of time that you can afford to feed your puppy once full grown. Veterinary trips are always inevitable at some point and time, so keeping an emergency fund for your dog is a smart idea, so you don’t get caught with major vet bills you can’t afford to pay.
If you have an aversion to pet hair floating around your home and brushing your puppy every day seems like an abominable task, you may want to consider adopting a breed that has little to no shedding.
Puppies need exercise every day, preferably shorter walks more often, as young puppies tire easily, especially in heat. Make sure to read about the breed or breeds of a mixed breed puppy to better understand what your puppy needs in terms of physical activity.
Give your puppy a great start in life! Make sure you buy an all natural, preferably organic food that is void of corn, wheat, sugar, by products, chemicals and dyes. Those ingredients can cause allergies which affect the behavior and overall quality of life for your puppy.
When your puppy is teething, he will try to gnaw on anything he can find to relieve his discomfort. The best way to quell this is with puppy teething rings that you can put in the freezer and once frozen, give to your puppy to chew on. If you can't afford products like this from the pet store, take an old washcloth, cut it into strips and tie a few small knots in it, sticking the strips in a plastic bag and placing in the freezer. Once frozen, hold a frozen strip and allow your puppy to chew on it, which will help to soothe and numb sensitive gums. Always hold it for them and never allow your puppy to chew on it unattended.
Spay & Neuter
Always plan to spay or neuter your puppy. Generally, if you adopt, which we always encourage, the shelter or rescue has most likely done it for you but if they haven't, there are many low cost spay and neuter programs in most cities nationwide. Sadly, the world is overflowing with unwanted puppies and allowing your puppy to grow up and breed is just adding to that problem. Shelters are overcrowded and because of it, millions of unwanted puppies lose their lives every year. Please don't be part of the problem...be part of the solution!