New Puppy Preperation

By Paul Manktelow on 15 December 2017

Your new puppy is on its way

Congratulations on your decision to get a new puppy! There’ll undoubtedly be excitement over the arrival of the new family member, but also eager anticipation for the companionship you’ll be blessed with for years to come. It’s really important that you spend time researching and planning before your pup arrives so that the whole household is clear on all aspects of puppy care.

The key areas to plan are nutrition, exercise, training techniques and healthcare. Setting out a consistent routine to which the whole household has agreed will give you a great head start in ensuring your puppy is happy and healthy. If in doubt, speak to the experts. Nutritionists, behaviourists, vets and vet nurses are always willing to give new puppy owners advice. Helping people in the early stages is the best way of avoiding problems further down the line.

Get your home puppy ready

I always recommend having a clear defined area that belongs to your new puppy. Many owners use crates which can help for behaviour and toilet training but more importantly they represent safe spaces that your puppy can retreat to if they are tired or need a break. As they get older, the crate can be replaced with a dog bed but it’s important that the area is still recognised by everyone, including visitors, as a safe retreat for your dog. Areas under a table or small utility rooms make perfect ‘dens’ and can be filled with lots of comfy blankets and nice familiar toys.

Puppy-proofing your home is essential if you want to avoid accidents, emergencies and expensive trips to the vet when they are young and in their exploring phase. It’s important that there are clear barriers that protect any areas you need to restrict access to. Stair gates are great to block off rooms and staircases, especially important in pups under 16 weeks old where you don’t want them using stairs yet. It’s also a good idea to puppy-proof your garden as they can be great little escape artists and get into all sorts of mischief outdoors.

I’d also advise that you tidy away all loose electrical cables, phone chargers and plug in air-fresheners. If you have rodent bait down make sure it is well hidden and completely out of reach of curious mouths and noses. This also applies to cleaning products and slug-repellents, as they can be seriously dangerous to your puppy if ingested.

Puppies chew, it’s a fact! So instead of them chewing on things you don’t want, provide them with lots of safe doggy friendly chew toys that you do want them to use. A top tip is to put chew toys in the freezer overnight so they are nice and cool to help soothe teething gums.

Going to collect your new puppy

Arrival day is incredibly exciting but it’s important that you transfer your puppy calmly and safely. It is best to time the car journey to be at least a couple of hours after the puppy’s last meal, so try and coordinate this with your breeder. Many young dogs vomit as they get used to car journeys but a full stomach of food can make this unpleasant and even dangerous during transit.

A period of play time before their journey could help to tire them out, just make sure they’ve calmed down before you put them in the car. Safety always comes first and the rules of the highway code dictate that all dogs need to be suitably restrained so that they don’t distract or injure anyone. For small puppies, I’d recommend a travel carrier or crate which can be packed with blankets and an absorbent puppy pad to help with any accidents.

It is important to start safe car restraint from day one so that your new puppy gets used to which ever method you adopt. As they get older and bigger, you can swap the carrier for a seat belt restraint or dog guard.

 

What you need before your new puppy arrives

Good communication with your breeder or rescue centre will help you get everything ready for your pup’s arrival. Try and keep everything familiar initially so your new puppy doesn’t get overwhelmed with their new environment. Are they used to eating out of metal, ceramic or plastic bowls? Do they toilet on newspaper, puppy pads or outside? What kind of bedding are they used to? Pay attention to these small details as puppies often won’t eat, toilet or settle if you’ve not provided a familiar environment for them to do so.

That initial familiarity is also really important for their food. Keep their diet the same initially otherwise you will be highly likely to encounter tummy problems and even food avoidance. Like the other things mentioned above, once they’ve settled you can gradually change their food to suit.

 

Puppy insurance

Register your new puppy at the vets before you bring them home and book in a health check in the first few days. This would normally include a vaccination but also check whether your puppy needs any parasite treatment. At the appointment, ask your vet what the emergency out of hours arrangements are and note down any relevant numbers. Emergency facilities may be in a different location so make sure you know all the details to save you losing precious time in case of an emergency.

Pet insurance gives many owners peace of mind against the unexpected, but policies can vary greatly. Some tips when looking into different policies:

  • Check to see if your policy covers for lifetime conditions as some will only cover a condition for a policy year
  • Check for discounts if you neuter your puppy and keep their vaccines up to date
  • Check for any exclusions or excess payments as these can vary greatly
  • Make sure the insurance covers third party in case your puppy causes an accident.

Remember, insurance won’t cover the costs of flea, worming and annual vaccinations. Make sure you ask your vet what they expect this to cost you for the year so you can budget accordingly.

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PRINCIPAL VET AT PDSA


Paul Manktelow is the Principal Vet at PDSA the UK's leading veterinary charity. His team of vets and nurses treat hundreds of thousands of pets every year. He also leads a team of animal health experts at the online information website Vital Pet Health. Paul is the resident vet on ITV's This Morning and has a fortnightly column in the Times where he discusses issues affecting UK pets. Paul has fronted a number of prime time TV shows and he regularly appears in the media as a prominent voice in pet health, welfare and lifestyle.

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