Raising a puppy can be among the most rewarding experiences of your life, but it can also be a challenge at times… especially during the first year. This is a crucially important time with lots of big things happening in your little furry friend’s life, but don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed… you only have one puppy! Some people have eight!
The first 4 to 7 weeks after birth:
Just like us, puppies are born basically unable to do anything but sleep, eat, and… you know. This time is usually spent with the mother and siblings, mostly curled up in an indescribably cute pile of sleeping puppies… so if you’re getting your first puppy, you won’t have to worry about much else besides visiting the newborn litter at someone else’s home and picking out your favorite. Once he learns to walk, bark and explore the surrounding world, it’s time to take your new friend home!
Save for: Vaccines and medical expenses
Your puppy needs to be protected against various diseases, as well as worms and fleas. Don’t worry, the vet will tell you which precautions you’ll need, but you should be financially prepared. Most of these things are a one-time expenditure, but can add up to around $500. Add another $70 or so for microchip identification and a further $500 to have your puppy spayed or neutered, and you’ll end up needing to shell out over $1000 in total. Don’t worry, it’s just this once. You’ll also need a municipal pet licence for around $25 a year.
Up to 3 months:
This is the time when everything is new, everything is exciting, and absolutely everything must be chewed on! Just like us, puppies have baby teeth that are later replaced by adult teeth. Dogs at any age are big fans of exploring with their mouths, but while the new teeth are growing into place, itching gums turn this tendency up to eleven. It’s normal and okay for puppies to chew on things… but only things. Don’t let them chew on people! Sure, they’ll try to at first, but they’ll learn manners if you teach them patiently. Make sure to have acceptable, designated chewing targets available to help with those itching gums. Proper socialization during this time is very important for preventing problematic yappy or aggressive behaviors when your dog’s all grown up. It’s also a time when your puppy is vulnerable to carrying scary experiences around for the rest of his life. Make sure to provide a safe and comfortable environment for healthy mental development!
Save for: Chew toys! …also: leash, collar, bed, food bowls and such.
These items can be more or less expensive than you thought, depending on whether you’re more used to junkyard dogs or the kind that ride in Prada purses… but put away $200 or so for these expenses and you should be covered, unless you’re Paris Hilton.
From 4 to 6 months:
Stronger, faster, more energetic… this is the classic puppy time you’ve seen on TV. Running, rolling, bouncing, play fighting and engaging in all manner of cute and silly activities is what these months are all about. Just don’t let your puppy walk all over you. At this stage of development, a puppy is looking for his place in the social order of the pack, and is ready to step up to alpha dog if you aren’t! Like a teenager, your growing puppy needs love and care, but also boundaries.
Save for: Food and pet insurance
Count on your puppy chewing through about $600 worth of chow in his first year. He needs lots of energy to grow into an adult! Puppies are also not known to take great care with their personal safety, so accidents can happen and it’s worth having insurance so you’re covered. Pet insurance should be around another $600 for the year.
From 6 to 12 months:
You’re in the home stretch! Your puppy is in the process of becoming a grown-up dog, and you’ll see his self-sufficiency developing more and more. This development can manifest as more interest in the environment and less interest in spending every second of the day playing with you. It may even seem like all the training you’ve put so much effort into isn’t working, but just be patient and consistent, and it’ll pay off in the end. This can be a more rebellious phase, and your puppy’s formerly adorable play-bite will become more powerful… but by the end of the first year of life, with good training, your puppy will have learned to behave like a true member of the family!
Save for: Obedience training
Some people say they can do this at home for free. Don’t be one of those people. Saving yourself the hassle and confusion is completely worth paying an experienced professional to help. $250 will go a long, long way toward making your time together with man’s best friend the wonderful time it should be!
A puppy’s first year is a unique and special time… you might end up missing it so much that you’ll get another one! Even dogs of very different sizes can play surprisingly well together.
A large portion of the expenses will be concentrated toward the first few months, and by the end of the year the total cost of raising a puppy will likely approach $3000. Save up beforehand so you’re not taken by surprise. When your mind isn’t unnecessarily occupied with wondering how you’re going to pay the vet bills, you can just focus all your energy on having fun together!