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I've just brought home a new puppy; what do I need to do?

I just took home a new puppy. What are the first steps I need to take as her owner?

Congratulations to you and your family! Welcome to the world of pet ownership. If this is your first dog, you will soon come to know the special bond that forms between human and animal. Studies have been done about the many health benefits of the human-animal bond. As long as you carefully foster the relationship, no one will love and respect you as much as a dog.

Many people joke that they'll try raising a dog before having children. But owning a dog is like having a child that remains in childhood for its entire life. Puppies need constant observation, just like toddlers. As adult dogs, they may need less intense observation. Nevertheless, they still can be quite destructive or suffer dangerous problems if left unsupervised.

We recommend that you schedule a puppy check-up with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Most shelters, breeders, and pet stores require a post-purchase exam within 72 hours of taking home your new puppy. Take any records of your puppy's deworming and vaccinations. It is also a good idea to write down a list of questions that you may have for your veterinarian.

The veterinarian will examine the puppy to determine if it seems healthy and free of disease. After reviewing past records, a schedule for deworming and future vaccinations will be determined. Puppies need to receive multiple vaccinations until they reach the age of 19 to 20 weeks. You should limit your puppy's exposure to unknown dogs as well as canine excrement until the pet has completed its vaccination series.

As a newcomer to a human household, your puppy probably is going through many changes that can be very scary and stressful. It is helpful for you to plan for your new companion's homecoming ahead of time.

A list some of things you will need are:

  • Food that the puppy has been eating. You can switch the diet over to a brand that you prefer, but you should do this slowly, over a two week period, to prevent stomach upset and diarrhea.
  • A crate or carrier to be used as a sleeping area and for housetraining, once the puppy is used to it.
  • Blankets or a lambswool pad for the crate. A baby gate or multiple gates. Newspaper or piddle pads. Food and water bowls, preferably metal. Antichew agents that can be applied to furniture, houseplants, and other household objects.
  • Appropriate chew toys. A wide, flat collar that is fitted properly. You will go through a number of these as the puppy grows.
  • A four-foot leash. Appropriate grooming tools û a slicker brush, a comb, cotton balls for ear cleaning, and other essentials.

We hope that this is information will help you get started. Keep learning all that you can about your puppy so that you will be prepared to care for it throughout its life.