What I Wish I Would’ve Known Before I Got My Dog
YOU NEED TO HAVE A 24/7 PLAN
Like having a child, you need to understand the full responsibility a dog is. Although I’ve grown up with family dogs, I’ve always known that when I grow up, I wanted to be the primary dog mom. What I did not realize until I was the full-time caregiver was the 24/7 responsibility. This is not to say you need to be beside your dog and physically attached for 24 hours a day (since they sleep 60% of the day anyway), but you need to have a plan to account for how they spend the full day.
When you go to work, where will the dog be? Daycare? At home? In a dog crate?
When you go on vacation, where will the dog be? Daycare? Friend’s house?
As a rule of thumb, when your dog is under 6 months old, do not leave the dog for more than 4 hours. More than this and you put your dog in danger. We pushed the limits and left our dog for 6 hours alone one day, and luckily nothing bad happened, but he was not happy at all.
Another increasingly popular option is installing a pet camera. As a worry worm, this came in handy so that I didn’t have to constantly wonder what my pup was up to.
Get on your hands and knees and see what your dog can see. Shoes! Rugs! Oooh, what’s this under the table? Unplug all your electrical cords (danger!), remove any item within reach that the dog could potentially eat or destroy. Puppy-proofing your home is a tedious task, but trust me it is well worth it!
Also, bitter apple spray is wonderful. Spray on your furniture so the dog doesn’t chew up the legs of tables and chairs.
RESEARCH AND EXPERIMENT WITH FOOD
Choose a puppy food that is high in protein and grain-free. It’ll cost more, but you’ll save much more down the line from vet fees and health problems developed due to cheap food. Just like humans, they are what they eat!
Experiment with different types and watch their bowel movements and energy levels after food. Our pup loves raw food, so we decided to mix it into his high-quality kibble for breakfast and dinner to manage costs (we couldn’t afford to feed him 100% raw). Also, watch their growth. Are they looking obese? Too skinny? Every dog has different metabolisms so don’t necessarily follow what is on the food bag label.
Finally, remember when they are pups they need to be fed often. We fed ours 3x a day when he was a pup – 7 AM, 1 PM, 7 PM.
YOU CAN’T PLAN FOR EVERYTHING
Have a plan, but be flexible. When we got our dog, he was supposed to be my husband’s primary dog. To our surprise, he displayed a strong preference for women and followed me around everywhere. Although he is still growing and that is subject to change, this altered our plans for who would leash him, pick him up, and physically handle him more. Just like babies, you can chart out and plan for everything, but remember they’ve got a mind and personality of their own! You have to improvise and plan as you go sometimes.