These are all things I learned through trial and error and wish I had known BEFORE getting a puppy. They are a lot of work, but if you do things right, it makes it all worth the work you put in.
Meet Arrow, my puppy.
When I finally convinced Doc, he told me I needed to write up a contract. He didn't want to be stuck with a dog after I got married (Hopefully the future Prince Charming doesn't mind that we are a package deal!) or moved out. So that's just what I did. It took me an hour to whip up and show him I was serious about getting a puppy. I think after he saw the contract (View my contract HERE), he saw how committed I was and how badly I wanted her.
Here's 15 Things I Wish I Knew Before (Getting a Puppy):
1. Getting a puppy is like having a baby. Now I haven't had a baby yet, but this is how I imagine it being. They are a lot of work. Puppies are most likely easier than a baby, but you get my point.
2. You get little to no sleep the first couple weeks. You'll be up multiple times in the night taking them potty.
3. There is nothing sweeter than **puppy snuggles. (**except for maybe baby snuggles!)
4. They need constant supervision, unless, of course, they are sleeping, and they sleep ALOT.
5. They WILL pee and/or poop on your carpet. (As I wrote this, my puppy snuck to the kitchen and peed! ha!) No matter how hard you try not to let it happen. I came up with a Potty Schedule that everyone uses in our household so we know when the last time she went #1 or #2. Even with the schedule you'll have accidents. You can view the Potty Schedule HERE. Since I've gotten Arrow, she hasn't pooped once in the house. Thankfully she runs to the door and scratches at it. If only she'd do that when she needed to pee......
6. Crate them. I had to sign a contract from my puppy's breeders that I would buy a crate before I got her, or they wouldn't let me take her home. The crate has become my best friend and babysitter (when I leave the house). This also becomes their safe haven and they will eventually go in without you telling them to.
7. Enjoy them. They may have frustrated you through out the day, but sit down and take a breather and play with them.
8. This goes with #5, don't yell or make a big fuss over them peeing (this one is a hard one. It's hard not to say "Nooooooooo! STOP!"). Simply ignore them, clean the mess, and quickly take them outside to relieve themselves completely (they won't in the house). I keep scraps of old towels and leave them in different places to quickly grab when she's made a mess.
9. They are expensive their first year as a puppy. You'll want to get: toys, a crate, a baby monitor (so you can hear them at night), something for them to chew (raw hides, bones, a Kong, etc), and not to mention all the vet visits the first couple months! Oy!
10. Go to your Library and grab every book, or DVD you can on puppies. This helped A TON. I found which one I liked the most, and stuck with it. Our favorite was Cesar Milan.
11. Make your own treats! It's so easy, and so much better for your puppy. There's so much junk in treats, its just not worth it to me to have her get sick. I cut and sliced 1 pound of cow liver and dried it in our dehydrator (this is by far her favorite treat and comes in handy during training!). Yeah, your house may stink for 24 hours or less, but totally worth it. I also made dog treats, here's my RECIPE.
12. They need to chew. I can't stress enough how important it is for getting chew toys, and bones! If she starts chewing on something she's not supposed to, I quickly redirect her to chew on her toy/raw hide and she'll sit there for up to 30+ minutes chewing. She hasn't touched any of our furniture (Knock on wood!)!
13. Be consistent from day one. This one was a little hard for some of us. Especially when she was 'being so cute!' when she was getting into things she wasn't supposed to. No matter how cute they may be, it won't look cute later when they are older.
14. Introduce your puppy to other dogs, and people. Especially kids. I like to put her in certain situations so later on I don't have to worry about her snapping at kids, men, or whoever. I have 8 nieces and nephews and they are over quite a bit. I make sure they give her commands just like I would ('No.' 'Off!', 'Sit', 'Stay' etc.) and believe it or not, she listens to the youngest of the nephews, Gus Gus (He's 2 years old). It may sound sad, but I want her to know she's the lowest on the totem pole and she's has to listen to them as well, even if they are kids.
15. Before they enter or exit a house, make them sit. It was important to me that she learn this from the start. I didn't want my dog entering my house or anyone's house without me entering first, and without me saying it was okay for her to enter. If I didn't do this, she'd rush out the door before me. Anytime she has to go out to potty, she sits and waits for me to put my shoes on and for the okay from me to come outside.