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A Letter to First-Time Puppy Owners

Many folks have experience with dogs, but not all have had the pleasure and challenge of raising a puppy. Even if you’ve adopted multiple adult dogs throughout your life, there is no other dog experience that will fully prepare you for puppydom.

Preparing for your puppy mentally is just as important as preparing your home physically. Acknowledging there will be ups and downs emotionally will help you get through any challenges. Preparing your home and yard ahead of time will also ease the process. Walk through your house imagining an energetic puppy running around. Do you need to pick up any loose cords? Do you have any glass vases on the coffee table? Is there a sentimental quilt hanging off the couch that’s begging to be chewed on, or, yikes, even peed on? Check out our Puppy Prep Checklist for more great tips! See the Top 8 Tips for a Positive Pet Buying Experience here.

Raising a puppy is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but many people go into it with rose-colored glasses only to find themselves on the verge of pulling out their hair at best or sending the dog packing at worst. We don’t want that to happen, so let’s roll up our sleeves and walk into this chapter of life with our eyes wide open. Still deciding whether to get a puppy or not? Check out this blog.

Here’s what you need to know before getting your first puppy.

Get ready for your world to change.

That adorable pup will become the center of your life for the next several months to a year. But, you’ll also likely be the center of theirs, too.

When you pick them up from me, they are one hundred percent dependent on you. You will need to feed them, take them out to potty, clean up their messes, train them, play with them, and love them unconditionally.

Routine and follow-through are essential to a positive puppy experience. Especially after the honeymoon phase fades away, the routine is crucial. Even if it seems boring or redundant or if you flat out just don’t feel like doing it, do it anyway. Yep, that means carrying the puppy outside, in the rain, to the designated potty spot and waiting with them until they go. It means pausing while you’re “in the zone” working to put them down for their nap. It means getting up in the middle of the night to take them out even when you’re bone tired. This blog about puppy routines may help, and here is a short video on bringing a puppy home.

Yes, love them unconditionally even if you step in a cool pile of poo first thing in the your bare feet. Love them even if they cry every night for a solid week after bringing them home. Love them when they don’t seem to get sleeping in their crate anymore (find out why I like crate training here) and when they are tough to potty train (learn pro tips on cleaning up potty accidents). And love them even when they chew your expensive purse, favorite pair of shoes, or the leg of great grandma’s antique table.

Puppies, like children, take time, patience, consistency, guidance, and positive affirmation to grow into the best version of themselves. A dog is roughly a ten to twenty-year commitment, depending on breed, health, and lifestyle. That’s a long time, right? So, all in all, THE PUPPY STAGE IS SHORT; YOU CAN DO THIS!

Yes, puppies can be a challenge, but they can also fill a part of your heart you didn’t know was missing.

Here’s what else you need to know before getting your first puppy.

Get ready for puppy kisses, belly laughs, romps in the yard, and late-night snuggles. They will be a constant companion who always, always loves you unconditionally regardless of the mood you're in or how you behaved earlier.

Does this post make it seem like a puppy is a lot of work? Hopefully! Because they are a lot of work -- plain and simple (click here for the reality check of puppydom). But anything worthwhile takes work and dedication. Having this sweet living being in your life, from a puppy to a senior dog, is a special experience that will prove to be one of the deepest bonds in your life.

Hang in there with your new puppy, my friend. We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes I hear a puppy parent say, “I had no idea,” or ask if they’re “a bad dog parent.” Let me reassure you -- we all feel like that from time to time! Stay the course. Follow our ideas and suggestions and reach out to us for help if needed. You can do this! The reward is great.

Browse the articles and videos on our website, ask us questions, and read books to learn about all things puppy. We’re here to help.

What do you love about your puppy or puppyhood? Comment and let us know!

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