Deciding to get a puppy can be a very exciting time, congratulations on taking the leap! Here are some helpful hints to get you started and prepare for your new addition to the family.

How do I choose the 'right' puppy for me?
Know your needs and do your research! There are so many breeds to choose from, take a look at my list below to help narrow down your choices. I strongly encourage people to adopt from a shelter. In the year 2015-2016 there were over 137,000 animals received by the RSPCA alone. This just represents just one organisation… and is a frightening statistic. Most pets end up in shelters through no fault of their own and are often so loving and eager to get a ‘fur-ever’ home. Remember that a pet is for life. Even if you adopt from a shelter, it doesn’t mean you should return it if things don’t work out, this can be very distressing for the animal. So make sure you start off on the right foot and get a pet that will be compatible with you for life.

Keep in mind what is important to you
- How active are you? (breeds such as Pointers, Dalmatians and Kelpies all require lots of daily exercise)
- Do you suffer from allergies? (Poodles and Poodle crosses are the perfect option here)
- Young family or single? (Labradors and their crosses are always great family dogs and crave social interaction, breeds that are more suited to be left alone during the day if you are single and working are Greyhounds, Whippets or Basset hounds and their crosses.)
- Time spent away from home? (If you travel a lot then definitely consider crate training no matter what breed of dog you have. If you work a lot, see the list above)
- Socialising importance? Do you entertain a lot and want your dog to be part of that? (Poodles and their crosses love attention, Retrievers, Spaniels, Wolfhounds are great too.)
- What’s the most important thing you want your pet to give you?

Answering these questions before you pick your next companion can really help. If you already have a dog at home and want to get him a companion, then think about his needs too. If the shelter or breeder allows it- it’s always a good idea to bring your existing pet along for a meet and greet.
Likewise, if you are a family, so that you can see the dog interacting with your whole family. Spend time interacting with the animals on offer, often the right one will pick you as the dog you saw online may not be or act the way you expected.

What can I do at home to prepare for a new puppy or rescue dog?
Firstly, get everyone in the household prepared. The below list is a start on the many things to consider and you may want to allocate jobs to different family members to your pet feels included by all.
- Feeding times and location - including a daily ‘treat budget' so your new addition stays trim and terrific, this can be worked out with your vet. Get a quality food on board, veterinary approved brands are the best.
- Exercise and playtime, designate a particular area of the yard or walk times after school.
- Training -use positive reinforcement and a consistent approach from everyone in the house. Do research on your local puppy school, as this is so important for socialisation form a young age.
- Water - daily bowl change.
- Medication or prevention treatment e.g. providing regular doses of flea/ heartworm/worming treatment. Puppies, in particular, need regular worming, every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old. Then monthly until they are 6 mths old, then 3 monthly as adults.

At home healthcare

- Checking teeth and providing dental care such as brushing teeth or feeding dental chews where required, checking ears and eyes and any other problem areas.
- Grooming -such as brushing and washing with our favourite Dr Zoo products.
- Poop pick up and disposal – consider environmentally friendly poop bags too!
- Laundry for clean bedding
- Crate training research- this is a great tool for training puppies. Do some research, you will be surprised how many aspects of your puppy’s life this will assist. It mimics a ‘den space’ similar to their natural instincts, allowing your puppy to feel safe and protected.
- Veterinary care schedule -for regular check-ups and vaccination boosters

Secondly, don’t forget to pet-proof your home! We all think of the common things such as adequate fencing and perhaps a kennel or quiet place. Be aware of also leaving things around the house such as children’s toys, hair ties and food scraps as these can all end up being accidentally (or intentionally) eaten by your new pet. Check your garden too for potential plants that could cause a problem- where I live its moses in a cradle and wandering jew, but there are lots of other potentially toxic foods and plants that can cause serious problems for example macadamias, avocado, onions, fatty foods, chocolate, baits
and fertilizer, palm seeds.

Congratulations on your new best friend! Wishing you many years of fun-filled memories and happiness with your furry addition…

Dr Andy