Adopting a puppy can be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. In addition to gaining a loyal friend who will bring endless joy and companionship to your life, by adopting a puppy from a shelter you are directly saving a life. When you bring home a rescue pup, you free up space for another puppy who needs a second chance. You also support the fight against over-population.
Of course, the biggest reward of adopting is: the puppy! But how do you know if it’s the right time for you to bring home a new best friend?
All you need to know before bringing a puppy home
Although many a heart melts at the sight of a puppy, it is important to make sure you are well prepared to take care of your new furry friend. Here are some points to bear in mind.
Puppies require time
Puppies are a project and you need to ask yourself whether or not you have the available time to raise one. A puppy’s early weeks are extremely formative, and are an essential period of time for learning and developing habits. To make sure your puppy gets all the supervision, care and training he needs to grow into a well adjusted adult, you’ll need to have the time available to devote to him.
Some of the time consuming tasks that puppy’s require are:
- Potty training
- Meeting new people and socialising with other animals
- Daily exercise
- Establishing a regular feeding schedule
- Behaviour training and Puppy School
Having a puppy requires effort from your side. Ask yourself whether having a dog would fit into your current lifestyle. Will you have enough time to supervise and care for a puppy? Does your current schedule allow sufficient time to bond and play with your pooch?
Puppies require a financial commitment
It’s important to make sure you are comfortable with the cost you will incur in preparing and caring for your puppy. Remember, after the initial excitement of purchasing a dog bed and cute doggie toys, you will still need to budget for things like vet visits for follow-up puppy vaccinations, quality puppy food, puppy school and worm, tick and flea medication.
Not all of these expenses will be due right away, but it’s important for a prospective puppy owner to budget and prepare for the financial requirements of raising a puppy. For the veterinary costs of raising a puppy, a great way to offset some of the costs of owning a puppy is to get pet insurance.
The TEARS adoption fee is R900 which includes spay/neuter, microchipping and initial puppy vaccinations, worming, tick and flea treatments.
Which breed mix and personality will suit you?
To help you decide on the puppy you want, it’s a good idea to make a list of traits you’d prefer in your future dog. Consider whether your home would be better suited towards a bigger or smaller type of dog. Ask yourself whether you prefer a dog that remains quite active as an adult, or whether you would prefer a dog that is more calm in nature.
Spend time getting to know all the puppies available for adoption at the shelter and ask the shelter staff for guidance to help find your perfect match.
Is your residence pet friendly?
Walk through your home and make sure you pack away anything that might be harmful to your pup. Similarly, put away anything that might be chewed – your newest family member will be curious and nibble on your favourite pair of flip flops, a houseplant or those books on that lower level of your bookshelf.
Make sure you have all the basics you need to help your new puppy settle in:
- a dog bed and blankets
- a collar and ID tag
- harness and lead
- food and water bowls
- puppy food – we recommend Hill’s Science Plan
- grooming tools such as puppy shampoo, a brush and nail clippers
- soft toys, tug toys, chew toys and food-dispensing toys
- puppy treats and a treat pouch to start with basic training.
Training is key
Begin training right away: your puppy will be in an unfamiliar environment and will need a lot of guidance while he figures out your expectations and house rules.
Potty training is the most important to begin with. Also teach your pup other basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘take it’ and ‘leave it’. These will be helpful when you find yourself and your pup amongst other people or dogs.
Puppy training classes are a must – these won’t only teach obedience, but will also aid in socialising your puppy and help you become a better pooch parent.
Exercise and socialise
The saying goes, ‘A tired dog is a well-behaved dog’. Make sure you provide enough opportunity for your furry companion to have fun and get rid of all his energy!
It’s best to keep exercise sessions short for puppies and limit to twice a day. You can go for a 20 minute walk, visit the beach, play fetch at the park or in your back yard. If you know of a nearby park where well-socialised dogs frequently visit, take your puppy so he can meet and play with other dogs.
Make sure your puppy is fully vaccinated before taking him out to public places. Unvaccinated puppies are susceptible to contagious, fatal illnesses such as Distemper and Parvovirus.
Not ready for a puppy? You have options
Do you love dogs but have learned that you’re not ready for a puppy (or adult dog) at this time? Pat yourself on the back for the self realisation. Lucky for you, there’s plenty of options for dog lovers to scratch their puppy itch without having to undertake full responsibility of raising a puppy. You can volunteer to train shelter puppies at the TEARS Puppy School, take dogs for walks, or help out in other ways around the shelter.
Another option would be to serve as a foster parent for dogs who are waiting to be adopted. Short-term fostering provides the benefit of allowing a potential dog owner first-hand experience of living with a pooch, before committing fully to owning one.