How to prep your new puppy for the cottage

Puppy in a window at the cottage Photo by Josu Ozkaritz/Shutterstock

Getting ready to bring your puppy to the cottage for the first time is much like bringing them home for the first time. The only difference? There are the added obstacles of endless new things to chew on, of fantastic foreign smells to sniff out, and a big body of water only a short distance away.

For new pet parents, this can sound like minefield—but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to get your puppy ready for a life of long weekends at the cottage.

Set goals and expectations for yourself and your puppy

It’s never too early to introduce your puppy to the cottage. In fact, the earlier the better—between three weeks and three months of age marks an important stage in your puppy’s development, in which they socialize and learn about their world. Just like you’ll want to introduce them to unfamiliar people, objects and sounds, you’ll also want to expose them to new environments. By bringing your puppy to the cottage, you’ll be able to set expectations early and ensure they’re familiar with their second home and its surroundings.

While Fido might be ready for the cottage, talk to your vet to determine when he’s ready for the great outdoors

Without their full set of inoculations, puppies are particularly vulnerable to a range of diseases, infections and parasites. (For example, giardia can commonly be found in cottage country lake water.) If your puppy hasn’t yet received all their vaccinations, talk to your pet care provider about when it’s safe to go outside and what precautions you should take.

Introduce your puppy to water well before you get to the lake

Rather than throwing them in the deep end, it’s best to introduce your dog to water slowly. Try filling a bathtub or kiddie pool with cool water to determine how they’ll react.

Puppy-proof your cottage

When you first pull up to the cottage, you’ll likely want to get your pup out of his crate and into his new second home as soon as possible. First things first, take a walk through the house and property looking for danger zones. In addition to the usual suspects (electrical cords, poisonous items, enticing-smelling old slippers), look for cottage-specific hazards, like mousetraps or large spaces between railings on decks. Outside, look for animal droppings, carcasses, and toxic woodland flora. Whatever it is, find it before your puppy has the opportunity to.

Prepare a first-aid kit for your dog

In the kit, include: the number and location of the nearest veterinarian; pet-friendly sunscreen and bug repellent; extra towels for cleaning off paws; and a de-skunking product for worst-case scenarios. Finally, even if your dog is microchipped, make sure their collar includes contact information for you while you’re at the cottage.

After outdoor activities, give your pooch a once-over

Puppy paws are not as calloused as adults and their fur is not as thick, making them extra vulnerable to ticks, small sticks, and stones, and pine tar and gum. (Doggie booties may be worth investing in until their paws thicken up.) Inspect your dog thoroughly after they’ve been outdoors, even if they’ve just been wading in shallow water, rolling in the grass, or sitting out on the deck.

With the proper preparation and supervision, your pooch will soon discover that the cottage is their very own version of doggie heaven.

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