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Caring for the New Family Dog

As the owner of a new puppy, you can expect the loveable little creature to:

  1. Chew the leather handle on your guitar case, the plastic lever on your home office chair, and the wooden leg of your walnut veneer coffee table.
  2. Whimper at the side of your bed at 7:15 in the morning on your sleep-in Saturday.
  3. Add a total of $1,397 to your credit card debt during his rookie year as the family dog.
  4. Deposit a variety of solid and liquid accidents on the Moroccan wool rug in your living room.
  5. All of the above.

The answer is obvious. Considering all the drawbacks of owning a new puppy, you might wonder about the upside. If you have to ask, well, you really shouldn't own a dog.

Once you've decided to accept total responsibility for a canine life, you must prepare for its arrival.

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Most dog owners recommend that you buy or borrow a crate. A dog crate provides a secure place for a puppy to rest and sleep. It also acts as a safe place for the puppy should the owner need to leave him alone for brief periods. A crate can also prove useful in housebreaking because a dog won’t soil his crate unless the owner fails to take him outside to relieve himself. The crate should be large enough to allow the dog to stand in it and turn around. Dog owners typically place a doggy bed inside the crate.

As for dealing with puppy accidents, it is wise to stock up on paper towels and a supply of carpet cleaner. Some dog owners use puppy pads, available at pet stores, during the housebreaking period.

A typical puppy should be fed two to three times a day. But a food bowl. And a water bowl. Consult your breeder or a veterinarian about your puppy’s diet. Your dog might need a special food for allergies or weight management. You’ll also need a good supply of healthy treats, which will come in handy when you begin to train your puppy.

A collar and leash are essential. Your puppy will love to go for walks outdoors and you will need to be in control. Of course, your puppy can go off-leash in a safe area, such as an enclosed backyard. A leash is also needed when training your dog to obey basic commands.

Grooming supplies should also be on the shopping list for new dog owners. Your choice of long-hair or short-hair breed will dictate the types of brushes and combs you might need. Dog shampoo and conditioner, cotton balls or gauze for ear cleaning, nail clippers, and dog toothpaste a toothbrush are also items to toss into your shopping cart.

Toys will keep your puppy stimulated and occupied. But it’s extremely important to select safe toys. Hard rubber toys, rope toys and flavored synthetic bones are particularly good for unsupervised play. Soft-stuffed toys and tennis balls are fine, as long as you keep an eye on your puppy. A determined puppy can tear into a soft toy or a tennis ball and might swallow pieces.

Find additional AKC tips about becoming a responsible dog owner.
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Tooth Brushing Basics

Did you know that having a regular tooth brushing routine can have a major impact on your dog's health? Download this e-book to learn more.
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