Australian Shepherd Black Tri PuppyYou’ve wanted a dog since forever. You’ve wished, and researched, and compared, and dreamed, and looked and looked, and finally found your perfect 4-footed companion.

Since you’ve taken the time to educate yourself, you know how important establishing a good bond  and training is for long-term mutual enjoyment. So you’ve planned to bring home your bundle of joy when you have the time to give it consistent attention for the best start.

Summertime, especially, is a great time to bring home your new puppy or dog because the kids are out of school and you can take some vacation time to get your puppy off on the right paw.

But there’s lots to do to ensure that happens. So let’s get started!

  1. First, preparation is everything. Make sure you’ll have all the tools that will help make your job easier: appropriately sized dog crate, food and water bowls, puppy food, collar and leashes, baby gates, safe chew toys, dog brushes, and comfy dog bed.
  2. Set up and use your dog crate anytime you are not in a position to keep an eye on your puppy or dog. This is key for a safe home but also for house-training your puppy to go outside instead of whenever the mood strikes. (Just don’t overdo time in the crate. Playtime, exercise, and lots of time with you is critical.)
  3. Use baby gates to secure areas that aren’t safe for your dog, and for traffic control.  It’s easier to keep an eye on your puppy when it’s limited to a manageable area. And it helps your puppy to learn to stay closer to you.
  4. Realize that one of your puppy’s greatest urges for the next several months will be to chew — anything and everything.  Start by making sure electrical wires and are not lying on the floor, and cords are not hanging from blinds or curtains.  Likewise, other string items like yarn, string, and rubber bands should be kept out of reach.  All can cause serious injury to your dog’s digestive tract.
  5. Many houseplants are poisonous to dogs, and all are tempting for puppies to chew. So if you don’t want a dead dog and/or destroyed house plants, put all of them out of reach.
  6. Make sure all food items are kept in cabinets and refrigerator.  Do not underestimate what a motivated puppy can get into!
  7. Most importantly, make sure all household poisons such as cleaning supplies, and medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements are securely locked away or put up in cabinets that your dog can’t reach.
  8. The days of open trash cans are over. If you don’t have them, buy only trash containers with secure lids.
  9. Keep all shoes and kids’ toys off the floor until your puppy is done teething. If not, your puppy will be happy to gnaw them as chew toys. And that could get pretty expensive for you as well as cause digestive problems for your dog. Instead, have a basket of safe chew toys and encourage your puppy to play with and chew on those.
  10. And, finally, the day will come when you have to go back to work and the kids have to go back to school. So start getting your puppy used to everyone coming and going (in small increments at first) to help prevent your puppy from developing separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive behavior.

I’m not going to lie to you; in the beginning it takes a lot of thought, commitment, and work to create a dog-friendly home. But if you’re willing to put in the time up front, you’ll be rewarded with a lifetime of love, laughter, and extraordinary companionship for many years to come!