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  • Elisa Designs


Our dog Pippa. Photo taken by A. LaPlante

Is there anything more fun than bringing a new puppy or dog home!?! It’s the best but, it's also a lot of work and even some sleepless nights. However, there are things you can do to prepare for your new addition so you won’t pull your hair out. Here is my tried and tested list of Top 10 Tips for dog owners who want to love their new babies (it can be hard in the first few months). I should mention, a lot of this also helps with cats, kids and messy partners!

I truly believe make the world a better place and our time with them is so brief so do what you can fully enjoy them from the day you bring them home.

Some words of advice before we begin...

I always had large dogs (Retrievers, Labs, Mutts) but when our phenomenal, water loving Lab Bailey died we had 3 children (my youngest was 18 months), I was working and life was nuts! Over that next year we were a dogless home and I was so sad but I also realized a couple of key things:

  • Know your limits - The only fair way to bring a dog into our busy life was to budget for a dog walker to ensure it would get daily exercise and to alleviate our guilt on the days things were to hectic to get the dog out.

  • Know your limits - A dog the size of a full grown person is too much dog for our urban life.

  • Know your limits - I fucking hate dog fur!!! I hate it on my clothes, on my furniture, on my floors and in my car! Even as we mourned Bailey, I have to admit I did not miss the fur. I quickly realized I did not have to vacuum everyday anymore so a low shed/no shed dog would be a better fit.

  • Know your limits - I have a bulging disc issue that flares up every once in a while and leaning over to bath the kids and the dogs was partially to blame so perhaps a smaller model would make more sense.

  • Small dogs rock! I am an admitted large dog elitist. I mean really, how could anyone compare the majesty of a retriever standing at the top of a hill as the wind dances through her golden mane to some yappy little beast? Nothing compares. There is certainly nothing majestic about a 20 lb poodle cross and yet...our next dog Scout was just that and she was affectionate and playful and brought us 11 years of great joy. Love is love. I have learned I can fuss over other peoples large dogs at the park when I need to get my fill but at home, my forever puppy sized dog suits just fine.

1. Invest in a good, high quality under pad

I honestly roll up the rugs and put them away for the first 2-4 months when we bring a new dog into our home. I have had 6 dogs in my lifetime and experience has taught me that I am not very happy when there is pee or poop on my lovely wool rugs so, I put them away and that immediately removes the stress.

Once you put the rugs back down, I would strongly suggest you purchase under pad with a rubber bottom to prevent any fluids from ruining your floors. Here is one of the ones I recommend:

2. Buy a really good spot cleaner

This is the one I often suggest to my clients.

3. Purchase a portable rug cleaner

These little machines are well worth the investment.

4. Hide food and treats out in the open

It's good to have the food and treats handy and in air tight containers to prevent an invasion of creepy crawlies. See suggestions from CB2 and The Bay (love the Kate Spade canisters).

5. Add a pet washing station to your mud room or basement

These are so brilliant if you have the space! I especially like that the two shown below are raised so they are easy on the back.

6. Dog Crate for sure

I am definitely pro-crate. It is the best way to keep your puppy or dog safe and to prevent them from doing things they / you will regret. Pippa is 2 years old and still loves her crate. It is the place she chooses to go to to sleep during the day (even though we don't close the door). At night she usually sleeps on my head!

7. Dog Gates Galore!

I am a gate believer too! There are plenty you can buy in various widths and heights or if possible, go for a built-in option. This gate allows for effortless storage when you need to accomodate traffic flow or if you have difficulty climbing over a fixed gate (like the one below).

We purchased this gate from Amazon. It is only 18" high so it's perfect with a small dog and it is easy for most of us to step over (my husband and son who are both over 6' still manage to trip on it all the time?).

Pippa at 4 months

8. Patience!

This may be the most important thing if you want an affectionate, well trained dog. There are days in that first year when you just feel like the biting or chewing or peeing on the rug will never end. Hang in there, know your limits and enjoy.


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