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I love puppies, which is why we have so many dogs! The first puppy I ever had was a real pain in the butt, though. These are the tips I wish someone would have told me before I got my first puppy.
Adopt – Don’t Shop
Right before my husband and I got married, we decided to get our first pet together. I knew I wanted a Golden Doodle, so I was hoping to find one “discounted.” This was my first mistake. I went on Craigslist and found a listing for a small, fluffy “Goldendoodle” puppy. He was only $400. Had I been wiser, I would have sensed the red flags going off, saved up for the dog I really wanted, or adopted a dog instead.
We ended up getting a Border Collie Golden Retriever mix, whom we named Duke. He really is beautiful, and he was probably actually worth $400, but he wasn’t what we bought. Over the years, I realized that buying a dog is almost never worth the cost. I would have rather adopted a dog, rather than purchasing one.
Duke was actually in horrible condition when we got him home. He had a bad stomach condition, from which he has never truly recovered. He is more prone to worms and other stomach infections. Due to his belly troubles as a baby, he developed heart worms despite taking regular preventives.
Of course, any of this could happen to a shelter dog, but at least you will be completely aware of the health of your dog before you get him home. Plus, your dog will likely not cost $400.
All of this to say, consider adopting. Shopping for a dog isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I wouldn’t do it without much consideration.
Potty Training is Hard
When we first brought Duke home, he was only 6 weeks old. He was not, to say the least, potty trained. At the time, we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment, and we had no idea what we were in for.
We did not have a size-appropriate crate, so crate training was out of the question. What a mistake! Instead, we locked him inside the bathroom during the day, where he pooped, peed, and chewed on everything. It was a disaster. We had no structure.
Before you get your first pup, have a size appropriate crate for crate training and night time. You do not want you crate to be much bigger than your dog. This might mean you have to upgrade your crate as your dog grows.
If your crate is too big, your puppy will poop on one side and sleep on the other, defeating the crate training. You want a crate that is big enough for your puppy to sleep, and nothing else. Do remember your puppy can only hold his bladder for an hour or two at a time, so be prepared to come home to messes, if you do not take him out to potty.
It is important that your puppy spends most of his time in his crate, while crate training. Luckily, we taught Duke to potty outside, but it took a long time.
Immunizations are Important
When we first got Duke, he had had his first rounds of immunizations (Canine Spectra 5), and we didn’t give him anything else until we moved to a new town a year later. He got his Rabies vaccination, first, and the next year, we actually realized how important it was for him to finish his immunizations.
Be sure you give your dogs all necessary immunizations. It is not just a money scam; they are important.
Quality Food Matters
Naively, I thought any food was fine for my dog. I was wrong. It actually wasn’t until after Duke got his immunizations that I realized I was doing him a disservice by giving him cheap food.
Many dog food brands end up essentially being McDonald’s for dogs. They lack key nutrients, contain dyes and chemicals, and are hard on bellies. We now buy Rachel Ray’s dog food for our dogs.
If you can’t afford quality food for your dog, you should reconsider adopting.
Pets Are Forever
Remember, puppies are a lot of work. They require constant attention, and they make huge messes. In the long run, your dog can end up costing you thousands of dollars. Make sure you are ready for that commitment before you adopt. Please, do not adopt a pet if you are not committed to it for a lifetime. Pets are not until you have a baby, move, or change your mind. Do not adopt a pet unless you are ready to keep it until it dies. Pets and babies can coexist.