We have been dreaming about adding a canine child to our family for a few years. We would look on enviously at the families playing in the park with their furry friends and fantasize of what it would be like to be able to have that for our own children. But the timing was never quite right, and with puppies, timing is important.
Or so I thought. The truth is we always said we would get a puppy when we moved into our new house. When our move was a month out I started looking and found the perfect little guy. But life is life, and our remodel and move weren’t as complete as we had hoped when we brought Baymax the goldendoodle home. Sigh. Our house felt a little tense and chaotic and my inital worry that this would rub off onto our new puppy only made the tension and chaos worse. I began to fret about whether we were making the right decision about two days before bringing him home but then I thought about how mentally prepared we were for this and put a little faith into our family.
So far, our life as new puppy owners has been pretty blissful. I think that even with the chaos of our move I can contribute that to a some things we did beforehand that I am going to share with you. I am by no means a dog whisperer expert (having only been at this a whopping week) but we have had a smooth transition for Baymax to our house.
1. Research Breeds
Big dog? Little dog? Long hair? Short hair? Low-Shedding? These things are all important but one of the most important things is to find a breed with the sort of temperament and lifestyle that matches yours. Read about different breeds and pay attention to not just the good things about them, but the difficulties you might encounter with them as well. While an energetic dog might sound fun, if you don’t have the lifestyle to keep up with him, you will end up with a very unhappy companion.
2. Doggy Encounters
Meet a full-grown dog of the breed you are considering. In fact, meet as many breeds as you can. It is one thing to read about them, and another entirely to interact with them. Luckily, we live in a very dog loving community so we often stop and meet dogs on walks or even in front of my daughter’s school. I was able to gauge how my kids reacted to a dog and how the dog reacted to my kids. It’s true that all dogs are unique, even within the same breed, but they do have certain mannerisms or characteristics that tend to come through. We met a few goldendoodles and even spent an afternoon with one before we settled on that for our family.
3. Read a Training Book
In the few weeks leading up to bringing Baymax home, I read Cesar Millan’s How to Raise the Perfect Dog. This is less of a step-by-step guide to how to train and more of an overall how to behave with your dog. I contribute the majority of our first day home success with Baymax to his chapter on bringing the puppy into your home.
4. Be Financially Ready
Save up for your pup. You don’t want the added stress of feeling like you can’t afford what he needs once you bring him home.
5. Set-up His Space Beforehand
After reading Cesar’s book we knew that crate training would be the way for us to go. We had his space all ready for him when he first came home with his blanket from his mom, some chew toys, and a few treats to make his crate feel cozy. We want a safe space for him to go when we are gone, for nights or even just as an occasional break from our rowdy little kids. He has his kennel, plus a gated space around it to just hang out in when we are gone.
6. Watch Your Energy
The biggest thing I took from Cesar’s book is that your puppy will feed off your energy. I have been teaching my girls how to play with him without flailing their arms or screeching and he mirrors the way they act. We have been careful not to freak out about accidents or chewing and instead just sternly say no and re-direct him.
7. Get Help
If you are a first time puppy owner, I would say that professional training is pretty much a must. The best thing you can do for your dog is make sure he is trained because the frustration of an untrained pup down the road can lead to undue stress and in some cases serious heartache. We are still scarred from having to re-home a Rottweiler we got together after he didn’t respond well to our own new baby addition. It has taken us years to journey into puppy ownership again as a result. Make sure you have time for training because it is the responsible thing to do.
I am sure down the road I will have plenty of updates on our successes and failures with Baymax, our new canine kid. Being mentally prepared for what we were in for has been the biggest help. So far, watching our oldest step into the caretaker role and grow by taking care of a puppy she loves, has been worth the midnight potty trips.
If any seasoned dog owners out there have any advice for us, please add it to the comments below!