To Get A Puppy Or Not? A Guide to Finding the Right Time

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Getting a Puppy

Bringing home a puppy is such a special occasion for American families that some employers are now offering pawternity leave.

That’s a smart perk to include in an employee contract, given that the first weeks or months are the most critical time in puppy-person bonding. Puppies whose people get pawternity leave are just as lucky as the owners who get to spend time housetraining, crate training, and helping their pup learn what behavior works to get what they want.

Of course, breeders like Snowy Pines will offer puppies that are house- and crate-trained before their family picks them up. But offering this paid period of leave for new puppy owners helps avoid years of pet problems.

Pet-focused allowances like pawternity leave and bring-your-dog-to-work day makes the decision of whether to get a puppy or not a little easier for some who’d rather not leave their pooches at home — especially in the beginning.

There’s more to the decision, of course, and we want to help you find out if your home is ready for a puppy in this exhaustive guide.

What You Need To Be Puppy-Ready

Time, patience, and supervision that’s what puppies need from you when you first bring them home. As they grow and mature in adult dogs, they’ll rely on the training and treatment you give them during these first few months. 

A puppy you bring home is like a baby who’s learned to crawl: they’re ready to explore, curious about everything, and are prone to using their mouths to play, chew, and investigate their surroundings. It’s cute when puppies are young, but if you don’t know to expect this behavior or how to stop your puppy from continuing to bite when they’re older it will require more intensive training to resolve.

Puppy preparation is what you need. Your life is about to change in a good way! so ideally, you’ll have certain things ready to go if you’ve decided you’re ready for a puppy. 

Once you get that call from your chosen breeder, things can happen pretty quickly. Don’t worry you’re not going to break your little puppy. But you’ll need to establish some ground rules with your family, create a schedule for meals and bedtimes, and even puppy-proof your home.

When You First Bring Your Puppy Home

From birth to the first seven or eight weeks of age, your chosen breeder will keep your puppy with their mother and their litter. This is an important time in a puppy’s life as they’re learning to socialize with their mates

If you take away a puppy too early at this stage, it may display more fearful, shy, or aggressive tendencies later on. You can use this time to your advantage, however. Begin by puppy-proofing your entire living space. 

 

1) Puppy Proofing

Make sure you cover sharp corners that could hurt a puppy’s soft head when they’re playing. You should also remove any small toys or objects that they could swallow and keep wires tucked away or hidden.

Use this checklist to clean up these items that may be lying around:

  • Kids toys
  • Shoes (puppies love to chew on these)
  • Laundry (doggos love dirty socks)
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Chocolate
  • Books
  • Antique furniture 
  • Video game controllers

 

2) Schedules and Assignments

Next, create a set of expectations with your family members. It’s time to make a few decisions around:

  • Who will be in charge of feeding, training, and walking your new pooch? 
  • Are any rooms off-limits? 
  • Where will he/she sleep? 
  • Is your new puppy allowed on the couch or bed?
  • What are the word cues you will all consistently use? For example, using, “off” to indicate getting off furniture rather than “down.”

You also want to create a specific routine and schedule in the following basic puppy activities:

  • Bathroom breaks/walks
  • Mealtimes
  • Bedtime and wake-up time

When you first bring your puppy home, it’s essential to have these implements ready to go. You should have bowls, the bed, and the crate set up for use, along with a couple of treats to make your puppy feel comfortable. 

 

3) Create a Puppy Survival Kit

Your puppy survival kit is as much for your benefit as your pup’s. Pull these handy items out under any stressful situations:

  • Chew toys
  • Puzzle toys
  • Training treats
  • Enzymatic puppy pee remover
  • Crate with a blanket

Puppies are very trainable at this point in their lives, so these items will help you make a good impression on your puppy and help them feel comfortable and confident in their new environment. With the right training and reinforcement, your puppy will learn how to interact with your family, learn the rules of the house, and how to be open to new faces. 

 

4) Bonding and Adjustment Period

You’ve brought your sweet little puppy home but now what? 

As you place your puppy carefully in a new home, keep things slow and quiet. You may be tempted to call everyone over, but you need to allow your puppy to spend the first week or two learning about his or her surroundings. Don’t overwhelm the puppy and it will be much happier for it. 

During the first few nights, you also may not get much sleep as your puppy may be a little afraid and whine through the night. There’s no avoiding this, but you can take a few steps to help minimize discomfort all around:

  • Let your puppy sleep in your room but have her sleep in her bed. This way, you can easily reach over and reassure the puppy through the night. 
  • Use the crate if the puppy is comfortable. If your pup is more comfortable in the crate, you can set up their doggie bed in there. This will also expedite house training.
  • Take your new puppy to pee before bed. Let the puppy settle in after its last pee time. If the dog whines, you can ignore it for a bit, but once it stops you need to reinforce the silence with a treat or a toy. 

Using these tips will significantly reduce your pup’s stress levels during these first few days and weeks of adjustment. It will also help your new furbaby bond with you and your family based on a relationship of trust and safety.

In The First 6 Months

The first six months of your puppy’s life should be all about routines and expectations. Remember, you’re training them and setting them up for a lifetime of good behavior, healthy expectations, and close family bonds. 

 

Create a Dependable Routine

You want your puppy to feel safe in their new environment so that they know they can trust you. Puppies need structure and discipline, so you’ll need to assign just one individual you or another adult who will be in charge of commands. While it’s tempting for kids to exercise control, this usually confuses the puppy. Dogs are pack animals who work best when they know who the top dog is.

Break up a puppy’s day into chunks that resemble a preschooler’s schedule:

  • Wake-up time: Take puppy out for the first bathroom break and let him bound around. It’s time to let it play and interact with you. 
  • Breakfast time: It’s the first meal of the day! Puppy gets two meals a day at this point.
  • Post-breakfast: You can take puppy for a quick walk after breakfast because he has plenty of energy and he can relieve himself once more.
  • Mid-morning: Mid-morning is naptime. If you’ve taken puppy out for a walk it will fall asleep faster and deeper. This isn’t necessary but can be good if available.
  • Afternoon: You can take it for a walk (if home) and bathroom break. 
  • Mid-afternoon: Rinse and repeat it’s time for yet another nap, followed by a walk (jealous yet? This is the good ol’ puppy life!)  This isn’t necessary but if you work from home take advantage of this.
  • Dinner: A good tip to organize and structure both you and your pup’s day is to offer it dinner when you and your family eat. Your mealtime will signal to puppy that it’s time to eat as part of the family!
  • Evening bathroom break/walk: This is puppy’s last chance to go for a walk and a pee-break before you all turn in for the night. Take it for a nice long walk if you can, because you want it to be sufficiently tired and ready for bed.
  • Bedtime: To help your puppy get used to bedtime, set a time and stick to it. Lead it to the same designated area each night to settle in with a chew toy.

 

 

Crate-training 101

Using a crate to help your puppy feel safe and easily travel with you is a great idea. Crate training has the added benefit of creating structure for your puppy: in its mind, there’s a clear division between crate (or rest) time and playtime. 

 If your breeder has already crate-trained your puppy, great news: You can just keep up the routine. Otherwise, you’ll need to introduce your puppy to the crate:

  • Open the door and let your puppy investigate. Put some tasty treats in there as an incentive but don’t close the door.
  • Leave the door open all day and randomly put some treats and toys inside. Your puppy will start to have good associations with the crate.
  • Once your puppy is entering the crate willingly and staying there for prolonged periods, you’ll know that puppy feels safe. It’s now okay to close the door start with only a few seconds! and gradually prolong the time. Your puppy should not feel nervous or display any signs of anxiety. 

 

Housetraining 101

Some breeders will also housetrain your new puppy but, again, you should keep the routine going. Ask your breeder what your puppy is used to and follow the same technique. 

If your pup hasn’t been introduced to housetraining, remember these three rules:

  • Keep a close eye on your puppy: This is why it’s crucial to plan to spend a few weeks, up to two months at home with your new puppy as it roams the house, you should keep a close eye on it. That’s also why many families choose to fence off a large area, so their new puppy remains contained and contains any accidents. If you can’t watch the puppy, put it in its crate. Puppies are less likely to soil the crate because it feels like a bedroom. 
  • Start with frequent trips to the bathroom: Plan to take your new puppy out as much as possible, and especially when it wakes from naptime.
  • Reward your puppy for good bathroom behavior: As the puppy learns to go in the right place (outside or on a pee pad!), you can reward it with treats to reinforce good behavior.

 

infograph of house training a dog

 

Your impressionable puppy will catch on quick, so the first six months of life are an excellent time to teach a name. It’s pretty easy to teach a puppy as they constantly listen, learn, and explore in this phase. Over time, the puppy will learn to associate the sound of its name.

The First Year Checklist

Your puppy’s first year will include four basic things, beyond any additional considerations like daycare or puppy class. 

✔ Scheduled vet visits

A reliable and high-quality breeder like Snowy Pines will make sure your puppy has the requisite shots and vet check-ups appropriate for their age. By the time your new puppy comes to you, you’ll know it’s in good health. 

However, your puppy’s first year will still include vaccinations or health check-ups. It’s important to schedule these routinely to get weight and nutrition checked, ensure the puppy hasn’t developed heartworms, and learn about any possible (future) health concerns. 

A vet visit is also a prime opportunity for socialization. Play with a favorite toy in the waiting or examination room and feed it treats, and it will soon learn that vet visits are a good thing. 

✔ Training

The first year is a fertile time to take advantage of developing skills, habits, and behaviors. In the first week, you don’t have to worry too much about obedience training your interactions can be about bonding and doing some fun puppy training games for good manners.

However, as puppies mature, they’ll need multi-stage training. At Snowy Pines, for example, we recommend that our English labradors go through two options of training they are Level A and Level B which progressively build on a dog’s previous learning. Both are not needed (unless we are preparing a service or emotional support dog) but a few weeks of training can make a big difference

✔ Socialization

During the first year, opportunities to help your growing puppy socialize with others could come in many forms. You can have friends come and visit, or you can take your puppy to a friend’s house. You could also sign them up for doggie daycare or a puppy play program in your community, which focuses on introducing puppies to each other. 

✔ Proper puppy nutrition

The first year of your puppy’s life is your chance to set them up with high-quality diet, which builds their lifelong immunity. Healthy coats, good hearts, age-appropriate weights, strong bones, clean teeth, and generally happy dispositions are all benefits of a high-quality, puppy-focused diet. 

Overfeeding is a big reason why it’s important to make vet check a routine part of your puppy’s first and second years of life. Between training and rewarding good behavior, and keeping a puppy’s energy and food intake aligned, puppies can gain more weight than necessary. 

Regular vet checks will ensure the high-quality food you’re feeding your puppy hits the right requirements.

Doggone Behavior! What Dogs Like To Do

Before you get a puppy, you should be aware of the behaviors they’re likely to display in their first months. Some of these might fade away as your puppy matures and becomes more confident — while some behaviors should be discouraged as they grow. 

  • Eating: Puppies will try and eat anything and everything. This habit doesn’t stop as they mature into adult dogs, by the way. 
  • Running: Besides the nap-loving pug, even small dogs love to be physically active and you can expect young pups to have twice the energy as adult dogs
  • Exploring: Through sight, smell, and touch, your puppy will investigate and explore his or her boundaries. Sometimes, they could even test your boundaries. 
  • Being close to you: Dogs are faithful companions of humans, even those trained as hunting dogs. They’ve evolved to be social creatures, and they need to feel a sense of companionship with you, their owner.
  • Chewing: This is one behavior you want to discourage as your puppy matures. He or she should learn what’s appropriate to chew their toys, pigs ears, or hollow bones, for example and what’s not. This includes chewing on you, your couch, your curtains, carpeting, and your children.
  • Learning: Through puppy play and obedience training, puppies love to be mentally stimulated and engaged. If you set up little puzzles for them, they’ll showcase their problem-solving skills.

The Upfront and Hidden Costs of Owning A Dog

Caring for your puppy is a lifelong commitment, and the many stages of his or her development should tell you that it’s a financial commitment as much as a relational one. The starter costs for a puppy are higher when you first bring them home than through their adult years. 

However, specific costs depend on the breed you get and what kinds of health problems that particular breed is prone to. It also depends on whether your breeder is reputable and ensures a high pedigree for all dogs born of their dams and sires. 

It may surprise you how much your puppy’s first year will cost you, given the vet checks, training sessions, toys, food, and vaccinations. You can save yourself on doggie daycare costs, of course, by keeping your puppy with you in those first months.

 

info graphic of dog costs

The Obvious Costs of Caring For a Dog

The obvious or upfront costs of caring for your puppy include high-quality kibble and wet food, along with dental treats, and chewy snacks. You may also choose to feed your puppy a raw diet, but you should be aware of the best practices for storing and serving raw foods. 

Puppies also require:

  • Toys
  • Fences
  • Crates
  • Blankets or beds
  • Leashes and collars
  • Little sweaters or socks if you live in a cold climate
  • Obedience training
  • Vet costs, including costs for neutering/spaying, deworming medication, heartworm and flea prevention, microchip ID, and vaccines

 

The Hidden Costs of Owning a Dog

The unexpected costs of owning a dog really depend on your lifestyle and living situation. These hidden costs can range from nice-to-have options to emergencies that call for a sudden expenditure. They may include:

  • Dog sitting, boarding, and doggie daycare
  • Raw foods 
  • Kibble dispensers 
  • Enzymatic pee cleaner
  • Toothbrushes
  • Dog grooming
  • Pet insurance coverage or an emergency savings fund for sudden medical issues
  • Accidental damage to furniture, carpet, or your home

Pet insurance is one of the most important hidden costs of getting a puppy. You may be okay with paying out of pocket for routine vet checks, but it’s the emergency issues that could financially drain you if you’re not prepared. One in every three pets will need emergency vet treatments every year. 

If a labrador retriever swallows something they’re not supposed to, it can cost you as much as $13,065 to remove the foreign body. Without insurance coverage or a savings fund, this could set you back financially.

 

Image Source

What Type Of Dog Best Suits You?

New dog owners often have a misconception that some dogs are less expensive because they’re lower maintenance than others. Small dogs, for example, need obedience training as much as large dogs do — but many potential owners think of small dogs like cats who don’t need much exercise. That’s simply untrue. 

Whether you’re ready to get a puppy or not depends entirely on your own life and living circumstances. However, the decisions you make about breed, physical size, and temperament will tell you which dog best suits you. 

For example, if you don’t like shedding on your furniture or you just don’t have the time to clean up, you’ll need to go for a short-hair breed rather than a long-haired dog breed. You should also take into account your chosen breeder. Certain breeds, like labradors, have a penchant for high energy, but Snowy Pines English lab retrievers are bred to be calmer, more suited for a family. Breed and breeder both play into the equation.

Six Reasons Why You Should Get A Puppy

While it’s a big responsibility, getting a puppy is also a joyous occasion for your whole family. It’s a great idea to adopt a rescue if you can, but when you get a puppy as it’s growing up you can start from scratch. The early months are the best age at which to get a puppy because you can train them, feed them right, and ensure they’re up-to-date with their shots. Getting a puppy from a reputable breeder will also prevent the often time extreme vet bills of owning a rescue

If you’re on the fence about whether or not your family is ready for a puppy, consider these lifelong benefits a puppy will bring:

  • Puppies can lower stress levels It’s a joyous activity! Puppies can reduce your stress levels by helping your body release the stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin and decrease the stress hormone cortisol. 
  • Interacting with puppies can make your kids smarter It’s not only puppies who are wiring their little brains. Studies show that children who interact and engage with pets as babies will develop better cognitive and social skills. 
  • Puppies will improve your overall well-being Pets have a way of disarming us with their earnestness and innocence. They keep you silly and active with their playful antics. 
  • Getting outside will help you build relationships Through doggy parks, puppy play classes, and daycare, you’ll develop friendships with others in the canine community who love their pooches as much as you. 
  • Puppies can help with allergies Not as many people are allergic to dogs as they are to cats. Furthermore, some breeders will offer hypoallergenic puppies so you have even less of a chance of having a respiratory issue. 
  • Puppies will grow to be your lifelong companion There’s no doubt about the fact that if you care for a puppy from its youth, you’ll have a companion for life. As you care, nurture, and help them develop, puppies will mature into adult dogs that display loyalty and obedience, along with being a prized member of your family. 

Despite the myriad benefits of getting a puppy, some families will realize they’re not ready. However, it’s never really a no. It may just be a not right now.

The Signs That Say You Don’t Need A Puppy Right Now

Now that you know what getting and caring for a puppy truly entails, it’s time to evaluate whether or not a puppy is for you. Some expert breeders will dissuade potential clients from adopting a puppy because it’s clear they’re  not ready. 

If you experience any of these signs, a puppy is not the right addition to your family or home right now. 

  • You’re rarely or inconsistently at home The sheer frequency of bathroom breaks, as well as the need for a consistent routine should tell you that if you don’t have time to take your little guy out, a puppy is not for you. If you frequently travel for work or fun, then you won’t be able to give your puppy the stability he needs to thrive.
  • Your home doesn’t have the space If you fence off an area dedicated to your puppy, and you lose half of your square footage, a puppy just isn’t for you. Many individuals think that small dogs won’t need too much space, but you’d be surprised how much area a kennel, fencing, toys, water bowls, and beds will take up.
  • You or our housemates have severe allergies unrelated to dogs It’s not that you or your housemates are allergic to dogs, per se. It’s that your respiratory system reacts to almost any foreign allergens in the air. Even if you get a short-haired dog, the severity of your allergic reactions could make a  puppy a no-no. 
  • You think puppies are cute But you haven’t thought about what it means to have a fully-grown dog. A cute 8lb white lab puppy, for example, will grow to 60-100lb dog. Even though Snowy Pines white lab puppies top out at about 75 to 80lbs, they’ll still need the right care and exercise for adult dogs. 
  • Not everyone in your home wants a dog The best way to create resentment in your family is to go against the wishes of one individual. A puppy is a long-term commitment and if someone isn’t on board when you’re deciding to get him, chances are they won’t be pleased as the puppy matures.
  • You’re not financially ready Because everyone has a different definition of financially secure, let’s keep things simple. If you can’t afford both the upfront and hidden costs of caring for a dog, as a bare minimum, you’re not ready. Some people also feel that readiness looks like having a substantial savings fund that would not be devastated if they needed to dip into it in an emergency. Ongoing vet costs can add up, so you need to prepare, even if your dog isn’t old or is in excellent health. Vaccines along can run you $200 so you should at least be able to afford pet insurance.
  • Your lease terms don’t allow it Some would-be puppy parents are set in all aspects except for their living space. If your landlord or condo doesn’t support pets especially dogs don’t make the mistake of trying to get a puppy and sneak it in and out. It’s going to be a hassle for all involved.
  • You own a lot of expensive things There’s a running joke that parents can’t have nice things because they have children. The same is true of puppies. It’s not that all puppies will destroy everything in sight. Many, like Snowy Pines English Lab puppies, are calm and easy to train. But if you can’t stand having a hair out of place or you’re afraid of possibly having a vase knocked over, the puppy life is not your priority right now. 
  • You’re not physically able right now It’s only fair to get puppies if you’re physically able to commit to keeping up with their high energy, curiosity, and exploration. After all, one of the best parts about puppies is their sweet, uncomplicated, and playful nature. So if you’re not willing to keep up with them because you’re physically not able right now, you’re missing out on half the fun of puppies. Puppies call for a lot of physical and mental stimulation so it’s about both your needs.

There’s a right and wrong time for a puppy in your life. If you identify with two or more of these reasons, then getting a puppy is not in the cards for you right now. Keep checking back on these signs and see if anything changes. You may be ready for a puppy someday down the road.

Conclusion

Your decision about whether to get a puppy or not could also come down to your chosen breeder. You may already have a breed in mind and you may be financially ready, living in the right kind of home, with ample time to spend with your new bundle of fluff. 

For example, you may have your eye on a golden retriever but you’ve heard that they’re highly energetic dogs, originally bred for hunting so you’re concerned about just how much energy they can exert. 

Breeders like Snowy Pines cultivate and nurture white English labs that have top-quality pedigree but are built to be calmer and better suited to a family with children. So before you completely rule out a puppy, make sure you also review what characteristics your chosen breeder is known for in a particular breed. The details could make all the difference in your decision about whether to get a puppy or not.