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Dog Parenting 101 – The Dos and Donts

So, you’ve got yourself your first dog baby, what happens now? 

As a relatively new dog mum to fur baby Yorkie, Frank, and someone who’s only ever had cats, having a puppy was a huge shock to the system. HUGE. There were many things I didn’t expect, and the first few months were a challenge, to say the least. The fantasies of a puppy really overshadowed the reality of it however I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s extremely rewarding in the end, even when it doesn’t feel that way at times. So after a year and a half of dog parenting, I thought I’d gather all my experiences and put them into a little guide for anyone who might take benefit from this. So here goes….

1. Do your research

Might seem like an obvious thing but like humans, dogs will have their own unique personality. Some of it you can control and usually is a result of your own training, and there’s some things that are just built within them. Researching the breed you’re interested in, can really help you prepare yourself in some ways. You can find out anything from grooming routines right through to walking needs. Also look into what kind of medical issues your dog could run into, i.e., dachshunds can experience back issues, pugs can experience breathing difficulties, yorkies run into dental problems etc as this can prepare you for any unexpected veterinary fees!

 

2. Don’t throw everything in your shopping basket 

Like a baby, your puppy isn’t going to need much in its first few months. Food and water, lots of sleep, and socialisation. That’s it. The main focus will be you both getting to know each other and your puppy getting to know their new surroundings. Too much stimulation can stress your puppy, so keeping things at a minimum is best.

 

Some of the basics to consider are: 

  • Puppy toilet pads (loads of them)

  • Dog food etc (bowls and all)

  • Toys (particularly for chewing and gnawing)

  • Bed (preferably an enclosed one, it can make your puppy feel a lot safer) * 

 

*Side note – I made this mistake but in the first few weeks, Frank slept in my bed. Weeks turns into months, and now when I command ‘bed’, he’s jumping in my own. My mistake. It’s not my bed anymore, it’s Frank’s. If you don’t want your dog to be in your bed, you need to start early in the process to guide them into their own bed. Unless you want them in your bed that is. 

 

3. Do read the paperwork

Here comes the boring stuff. Legally in the UK, all dogs need to be microchipped so make sure you get this sorted asap. If you’re adopting or buying, the dog will likely already be microchipped, but make sure that you get all the paperwork for that and transferred to your name. All dogs will also need pet insurance, so make sure you do your research on the best provider and look into what your insurance covers. Here's a link from Blue Cross which gives you a helpful breakdown of UK legislation.

 

4. Don’t forget vaccinations

If your puppy has been given its first vaccinations, make sure you are getting the vaccination record card and get the next vaccination booked in at the correct time. There’s usually a four-week gap between the first and second round of vaccinations which means if you’re in a flat, like me, your dog won’t be able to go out during that time or at least, they can’t touch the outside floor. After this round of vaccinations, boosters will be required once every year. Your vet will be able to let you know when those are due, and it will also be outlined in your vaccination record. 

And one last thing, keep that vaccination record card safe!

 

5. Do expect your sleeping routine to change

Reality check – you WILL lose sleep in their first few months (and even at random times when they’re older). But let’s chat about the first few months… 

Prepare yourself. Because it shocked me to the core. I will shamelessly admit that there was a time I ended up crying from lack of sleep. Although puppies sleep a lot during their first few months, it can happen sporadically and when they are awake, they have bursts of energy. That means they could wake up in the middle of the night, wanting to play or just wanting attention. You should tend to them, especially if they’re crying but try not to play with them. 

Now waking up once might seem fine and dandy, but when they’ve woken up 4 times in the same night, it can become really grating and difficult. You can quickly start feeling veins of regret coming through but try not to lean into that emotion. You got your fur baby for a reason! Things will become easier. 

Trying to establish a routine early will help this period end quicker, so have a particular wind down time will hopefully teach your dog that playtime is not anytime – especially bedtime! You want them to understand that night-time is a time for sleeping and relaxing, not for continuous stimulation.

 

6. Do make time for training

Training is essential. The timing is also crucial. The earlier they pick up a new command, the better. Focus on the key commands first – sit, stay, come, toilet (or however way you want to say it), play, lay down, out, down, quiet (for those vocal yappy dogs like Frank!). 

I once read from another article around training that it’s always best for one person to do the training first and they were completely right. I tried to share the training with my partner, but it just didn’t work so I decided to continue by myself, which worked well in the end. Training can take a while, depending on the breed (which is why note #1 is do your research!), so have an allocated time, 15-20 minutes tops to practice a command with your pup. They tire and lose interest very quickly, so try not to overdo it. When they start losing interest, stop. Resume at another time.

 

7.  Don't forget to make the most of the puppy phase and enjoy

As chaotic as it can be, the puppy phase doesn’t last that long and you'll miss it! Before you know it, you’re in bed, crying at old photos of when they were a wee baby! Enjoy every moment you can (even the headaches) and capture everything you can. These moments are most precious.

 

Dog parents, I'd love to hear from you! What's been your experiences? Have you got any advice to share? Comment below :-)

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