The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Siberian Huskies" by Mary Meisenzahl. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Mary MeisenzahlIt’s finally here—today you bring home your new puppy! The last chapter should have been helpful for planning ahead and preparing your family for this new member, so here we’ll dive into what to expect out of those early days.
The Importance of Having a Plan
You probably already know that bringing home a new puppy shouldn’t be a spur-of-the moment decision. Instead, you’ll want a plan in place before you pick her up.
Before you get her, you should have an idea of how you’ll want to start introducing your Husky to your family, home, and life. Who will come to pick her up? Who will be home when she gets there? Who will be around the first few days or week?
This is also a good time to figure out what spaces your puppy will and won’t be allowed in. Decide where her crate will go, and where her bed and toys will be. You might decide to block off part of your house with her things for a while, so she can get comfortable and acquainted with just this small area at first. It might also be easier to babyproof just this small section at first, and make it totally safe, with nothing she can get into trouble with. Choose a room near the center of your house, where people will be, so your pup doesn’t feel lonely or left out. Jill Campbell, a breeder at Campbell’s Siberian Huskies, says Huskies “Really want to always be with a human,” so be sure to facilitate plenty of contact, even if the pup is limited to certain sections of your home.
If a certain room is off-limits, or the pup won’t be allowed on furniture, everyone in your house should be on the same page. If you start implementing these rules the moment your puppy comes home, you’ll have a much easier time making them stick.
You can also develop plans for a routine that your puppy can learn to expect and rely on. Figure out who will feed the puppy and when, who will be responsible for taking her outside, and who will handle scheduling appointments and keeping track of vaccines. Setting the expectations in advance will help ease the transition for everyone.
Finally, as a caveat, having a plan is important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible and spontaneous too! Keep your plan about how you want to introduce your puppy to your life in mind, but don’t be too stuck on exactly how things will go. You never know how the puppy might react, and you should feel confident adjusting your plan to your specific situation. Remember, you can’t control everything, so the most important thing is making sure that your puppy is healthy and safe. Everything else can come from there.
The Ride Home
This is it—you’re taking your Husky home! Riding in the car is probably new for your puppy (like most things), so you’ll want to take some steps to make the trip as easy and stress-free as possible for her.
More than one person should be along for the trip so that they can sit with and comfort your dog during the ride. Your puppy might be nervous during the new experience, and you want to avoid that nervousness becoming a full-blown phobia. You or another member of the family should sit with the dog to soothe her and speak in a low, comforting voice. Hold her and prevent her from jumping on the driver.
Depending on your car and what will fit, you could put your puppy in her crate for the ride home to get her used to it. If you do this, make sure to secure the crate so it’s not sliding around the car!
The First Night Home
When you first bring home your puppy, the key thing to remember is calm. A car ride, new people, and an unfamiliar environment are all likely to stress out the pup. You can help her adjust by speaking in a quiet voice and handling her gently. Avoid yelling and rough play.
Potty training begins now. Before you bring her inside, take your dog to the area outside that she will be using. If she goes, praise her. Be prepared to take her out regularly after this, including throughout the night. Continue to take her to this same spot to establish it as her potty place.
The first night should be the beginning of establishing your routine, so don’t invite any friends over to meet the puppy just yet.
Bring your puppy into the room with her crate, which you’ll want to introduce immediately. This area that you’ve blocked off for her will serve as her “den” for the first few days she’s home with you. After that, you can gradually allow her to explore more of the house, with supervision. For now, keep her on a leash inside.
Sit on the floor or couch (if you plan to allow her on furniture) and gently pet her and talk to her. You want her to get to know your voice and how it feels to be petted, and eventually feel comfortable with that. If everything is going well and the puppy isn’t too stressed out, start to touch her paws, examine her ears, and rub her belly. The earlier she can get accustomed to these touches, the better, so that you can eventually play with and pet her, or examine her for problems. You can even try grooming her gently with a soft brush to get her used to that sensation as well.
Put bedding and some chew toys or treats in the crate, maybe also a shirt or towel with the scent of her mother and littermates. Providing something familiar will help your puppy feel comfortable while everything is new. Let her spend some time in the crate so she can process and rest from all the stimuli you’ve thrown at her.
After 15 or 20 minutes of playing, the puppy should go outside again to potty. Take her out last thing before bed, and first thing in the morning, and plan to get up during the night as well.
Remember to check with the breeder to find what brand of food your dog is used to eating, so that you can provide the same. If you do intend to switch to a different food, possibly on the advice of your vet, transition between the two over a period of a few days. Huskies tend to have sensitive stomachs, so you’ll want to avoid introducing too many new things at once.
When you’re ready to go to bed, place a treat and the shirt or towel with the mom’s scent inside the crate. Don’t respond to whining or barking; that will only reinforce the behavior. Tell her good night, and then go to bed yourself. If the crate is in your bedroom, the sounds of your breathing and sleep movements can calm her.
Remember that puppies don’t yet have good bladder control, so expect some accidents. Think of the puppy as a new baby—she will require patience and kindness, because everything is new to her.
First Vet Visit/Choosing a Vet
Jill Campbell of Campbell’s Siberian Huskies recommend that owners
“Have a vet chosen and first appointment made before even taking puppy home.” This appointment should be within 48 hours of bringing your puppy home, to confirm that she’s in good health. Depending on your contract with the breeder, they may even require that you take your puppy within a certain time period of bringing her home.
If you don’t already have a vet you like, ask your breeder for a recommendation. You can also find options through breed groups in your area, or by asking a friend. Ideally, you will find a vet who you are comfortable talking to, and who you can see for the entirety of your dog’s life.
The first visit will likely just be a physical and weigh-in. This will allow your vet to establish a baseline of what is normal for your pup, and also allow her to be handled by other people and develop some positive associations with visiting the vet. You may schedule more vaccinations.
Pet Supplies to Have Ready
Having a dog can be expensive, especially at first. You’ll want to be ready with most of the basics, knowing that you might have to add things or change them up once you have your puppy home and see what works. At least try to have everything on hand that you’ll need during the first few days, and then you can always buy more from there.
Let’s start with the basics: you’ll need ID tags for your puppy with her name, your name and phone number, and your vet’s name and phone number. Attach this to a sturdy collar and six-foot leather or nylon leash (ideally one that can’t be chewed through).
Okay, collar and leash are taken care of. Now you need food and dishes to go with that. You’ll want stainless-steel food and water bowls, so that they won’t absorb odor. Picking out a food may be a bit tricky. Wendy Bentley, a breeder at Sweetgum Siberians, says, “Some Siberians do tend to have sensitive stomachs a little more than some other breeds. In this case, you should talk to your veterinarian about what kind of foods they think would be good for your dog.” To avoid this, you should be prepared with the food that the breeder was feeding.
You’ll need a large crate where your dog can rest and be comfortable when you’re not around. You might also want a dog bed for her to hang out on around the family.
Everything will be really new and interesting at first, but remember that Huskies need to stay mentally active or they’ll get bored and destructive. Breeder Bonnie Schaeffel of Liberty Siberians recommends, “Get very heavy duty toys, such as Kong toys. They are likely to destroy most stuffies. Give them bones to chew.” Be prepared with a variety of toys to see what your pup prefers. These toys will be especially helpful when your pup starts teething. Bones and Kongs are definitely good choices; my own dog can spend hours working on a toy like that, but she’s been known to destroy a stuffed animal within minutes, pulling out stuffing and eating it.
As far as grooming, you’ll want to make sure you have a brush for your Husky’s coat. You don’t have to start grooming her right away, but it’s good to get her used to the sensation early on. Dog shampoo, toothbrush, and toothpaste will round out your grooming supplies, and don’t forget nail clippers.
Finally, make sure you have treats ready! Feel free to break them up into tinier portions— you’ll want them around to reward the pup when she does something right, like going potty outside.
Cost Breakdown for the First Year
Here is a very general breakdown of costs you’ll face in the first year of owning your Husky. These numbers can vary greatly depending on where you live, whether you got your dog from a breeder or shelter, and any medical issues that arise.
|Initial Vet Exam
|Toys and Treats
|Pet Health Insurance
Remember, this is just a rough estimate to keep in mind around how much you might plan to spend on your first year as a Siberian Husky owner. Expect all of these costs to vary based on your location and preferences. As a good rule in general, expect some other unexpected costs to come up. Prone to destruction as they are, don’t be surprised if you have to replace a couch destroyed by an overactive Husky.
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Siberian Huskies" by Mary Meisenzahl, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: