March 23 is National Puppy Day! To celebrate, we’re telling you how to celebrate the best way ever – with a new puppy of your own.
When adopting a puppy, it’s best to think carefully and avoid making an emotional decision. After all, cute only gets you so far. Puppies are a huge time commitment, starting with the early days of training and continuing throughout their lives, which can last up to two decades for some breeds.
That said, a little foresight goes a long way, so before you bring a puppy home, make sure you’re prepared.
Now, first things first: Where you should find your new puppy? We always recommend rescuing a puppy rather than buying one from a breeder. Every day around the country, thousands of pets arrive at shelters, many of them pregnant. The sad reality is that five out of 10 dogs in shelters nationwide are euthanized simply because there is no one to adopt them (according to the American Humane Society). If you have your heart set on a particular breed, you can still get lucky at the shelter. Many shelters have full-breed pets for adoption, or you can look for breed-specific rescue organizations.
If you decide to buy a puppy from a breeder, do your research. Unfortunately, there are many disreputable breeders out there. Pet stores can be tricky as well. Many pet stores get their pets from puppy mills, which are notorious for their inhumane housing and treatment of both moms and pups.
Once you’ve chosen a shelter, rescue or breeder, it’s time to puppy-proof your home. Watch for sharp edges that could cause injury, and place anything that your puppy could chew, lick or ingest out of paws’ reach. Shoes, toys and even wooden baseboards can be fair game if not protected or moved. Secure shelves or trash cans that could be knocked over, and consider using baby gates to set up a safe “puppy zone.”
Next up, it’s time to hit the pet store! You’ll need food, toys, a leash and collar, food and water bowls, and a crate for crate training. The crate will be your puppy’s den, so select an expandable one that will grow with your puppy. Crates can be made with wire, plastic or soft-sided materials — each has its pros and cons based on the breed you’re adopting, the climate you live in and how often you’ll be traveling with your pup.
Finally, make sure you have a financial plan for caring for this furry addition to your family. Adopting a puppy is a substantial expense. Are you prepared to pay for not just food, treats and toys, but also regular checkups and medical care? According to Petplan claims data, pets under the age of 1 are two-and-a-half times more likely to need veterinary care for an unexpected accident or illness. This is where pet insurance can really come in handy – the added monthly expense is worth the peace of mind to know those bills will be covered.
Still have questions about life with your new puppy? Check out Petplan’s Puppy Guide. It’s packed with useful tips to make your new furry friend’s first year a walk in the dog park.