Preparing for Puppyby Linda Monroe
Things to do before your puppy arrives.
Puppy proof your home.
Secure electrical cords to the baseboards, or tape them up high, or string them through PVC pipe. Have plenty of bitter apple or tobasco sauce on hand for those that can't be put out of the way.
Crawl around on the floor, seeing everything from your puppy's point of view. Look for pins, tacks, paper clips, and other assorted small items that your puppy could swallow. In particular, check under furniture. Then, look for anything that is dangling, like phone and appliance cords, tablecloths, etc. Remember to check at least as high as the pup can stand on his hind legs.
Buy a few child safety gates and block off any rooms you do not want your puppy to have access to, or the room you want him to stay in. I have a gate across the library where my computer is, not to mention 2,000 books. I have an extra gate to lock them in the kitchen if I need to. The very best gate is the metal kind about three feet tall, but the short plastic ones work as well. The advantage of the short ones is that you can step over them instead of having to open and close. Of course, plastic can be chewed through, but I have never had a Mastiff chew or go over even the shortest gates. (My Chihuahua has chewed a hole in every gate, and can now go wherever she pleases).
Be sure to remove any cleansers and soap powder containers from the floor, along with disinfectants, bleach and fabric softeners, toilet bowel cleaners and the like. Make sure that all insecticides are safely stored away.
Toxic plants need to be put up high or discarded entirely. Artificial plants can be sprayed with bitter apple, but are a favorite of young pups to tear up. Swallowing pieces of silk or plastic can cause serious damage, so I usually put them up as well and introduce them slowly, one at a time. Also, remove any foil around the containers and any decorative rocks that may be in the pot.
Find a high, secure place to keep any remote controls. Any item that contains batteries are extremely dangerous. If a pup chews up the remote control or a childs= toy and even so much as bites into the battery, it can cause severe burns, mercury poisoning and even death. (A pup I sold chewed a remote control battery and spent two weeks in the hospital being treated for mercury poisoning and burns. This cost the owners over a $1,000 in vet bills and they were lucky that he even survived).
Put all shoes, boots, umbrellas, etc., in a closet and pick up any clothing laying around. Remember, nothing is sacred and if it is on the floor your pup will consider it his. A pup will just as soon chew on your underwear as a toy.
Childrens' toys can also be dangerous, as small pieces can be broken off and swallowed, stuffed animals shredded, Barbie dolls beheaded. Also, children should be taught not to share their food, especially chocolate, with the new pup.
The most important purchase you will probably make is a crate. I recommend a wire crate. Buying a large crate (for the pup's eventual size) is more economical and can be partitioned off for housebreaking purposes. The partition can be moved as the pup grows.
For bedding, you can get commercial crate pads to fit, or make them yourself. Blankets work well, but tend to slide around and the pup feels insecure about his footing. I usually use a canvas covered crate pad and put the blankets on top. They are easier to wash than the pad covers. Have several changes of bedding handy. Do not use new pieces of carpet unless they have been washed to remove the formaldehyde and other chemicals. However, carpet does work well under blankets to keep them for sliding. A heavy rubber mat or rug with rubber backing will work until the pup grows large enough to chew it up!
Of course you will need food and water bowls. I like to use the 5 qt. stainless steel bowls. Plastic bowls can be chewed and dumped over easier and some will leach harmful toxins into the food over time. Many cases of "puppy pimples" can be traced to using plastic feed and water bowls. Stainless steel is easier to clean, sterilize and is dishwasher safe. As your puppy grows, it is a good idea to gradually raise the food dish. This helps with digestion and keeps them from having to Ahunch@ down on their front legs to eat. You can buy (expensive) raised dog diners, create your own or buy an inexpensive small "Grecian urn" from Kmart. The urns hold a 5qt bowl very nicely.
Purchase a collar and leash before hand. An adjustable collar will work fine for the first few months. After six months, switch to a buckle collar for strength. The first leash should be a lightweight six foot lead for leash training. Later on, a nice leather or heavy nylon lead will be necessary. Get your pup used to a choke collar also, but never, ever leave the choke collar on any dog unless you are with them. They can easily become caught on something and strangle the puppy.
Toys are always nice to have on hand. I recommend small Kongs, knotted cotton bones, sterilized cow bones, assorted Vermont chews (for stuffed toys), compressed rawhide bones, dental chews, and carefully selected children's stuffed animals (no removable eyes, parts, rubber pieces, etc.). You can also let your pup play with empty plastic soda bottles, with the cap removed. If they start to chew them up, throw them away. Don't leave your puppy unattended with soda bottles. I absolutely do not recommend any rubber or plastic toys except for the Kongs. However, PVC balls are okay. Make sure that all toys are too large to be swallowed, and avoid small balls and bones. Constantly check toys for wear and discard those that begin shedding pieces that may be swallowed and cause blockage.
Go ahead and buy a bag of dog food to have on hand. Try to get what the breeder recommends, and if that's not available, ask for an alternate suggestion and be sure to have the breeder give you (or send with pup) enough of the current food to make a change-over -- at least a week. You can also get a small box of puppy biscuits or other treats.
Notify your veterinarian that you are purchasing a puppy and make an appointment to have him checked as soon as possible after receiving him. If you do not currently have a veterinarian, begin interviewing prior to getting your puppy so you will have one to start with.
Have a family meeting to discuss the do's and dont's of your new puppy. Make a list of "commands" that will be used to train your puppy, and make sure that all family members use the same words so training will be consistent and your puppy will not be confused. Remind children (and adults if necessary) to pick up their clothes and toys, not to feed the puppy table scraps, candy, etc., decide who is responsible for feeding, cleaning, etc., and discuss what signs to look for regarding potty training, illness, etc.
Do not schedule visitors for at least a week after getting your puppy. Do not let family, friends, neighbors, etc., overwhelm the puppy in the beginning. Give him time to adjust to his new surroundings and family first. Don=t take him anywhere except to the vet (always keep your puppy off the floor and do not let him interact with other people or animals who may be sick), until he has adjusted and has had several vaccinations, especially where their are other dogs, particularly puppies. Remember, your puppy was snatched from the security and comfort of his first family and suddenly finds himself in a strange new world. Even though it may not show, the pup will be under tremendous stress, and stress lowers the immune system. Give your puppy plenty of time to get to know and trust his new family before introducing new places and people. Once he trusts and loves you, you can do just about anything, and have the rest of his life to do it.
Medicines and Incidentals
Only a few items are necessary, and some may be handy. Anything other than a minor problem should be handled promptly by your vet.
Hope this helps and that you and your puppy have a long and happy life together.