Creating your puppy’s perfect habitat

A friend once told me of a test you can take to determine if you’re ready to have a puppy. Stand in the middle of your house with a blindfold on. Then, take 10 baseballs and throw them as hard as you can in random directions. If you open your eyes and you’re devastated by the chaos around you, you’re not ready for a dog.

Personally I think that is a bit extreme. Gatsby has been a perfect gentleman (by dog standards, at least) since day one and the worst damage he has caused were a couple bite marks on one of my favourite books. Still, it’s good to be prepared. If you spend some time planning and arranging for a safe space for your puppy before you bring them home it will be easier for them adjust to their new surroundings.  Here’s what I did to help make Gatsby feel at home in my apartment.

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I adopted Gatsby sight-unseen. Was it nerve-wracking making a life-long commitment to a dog I’d never met? Absolutely! But I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. I wound up with an amazing companion who is 100% pure love and makes me smile every day. Still, especially when adopting a pet, it’s important to ask the right questions before taking the leap and bringing a puppy home. When I was making the decision to adopt Gatsby I probably exchanged over 30 emails back and forth with his foster and rescue advocates. While at times I felt like I might have been annoying them with my constant influx of questions, I’m really glad that I took the time to learn more about Gatsby’s temperament, health, history and personality prior to adopting him. Here are some of the questions I asked prior to adopting, I think it’s a good place to start!

History + Behaviour

  • How did he end up in a shelter or rescue?
  • How old is he?
  • Is there a history of abuse?
  • How is training going so far? Are there any specific commands that he responds to?
  • What is he like when left alone?
  • How is he around other dogs and people?
  • How does he act around children?
  • How does he act at mealtimes?
  • Has he had any practice walking on leash?
  • Does he bark a lot?
  • How does he react to other types of pets? (e.g. cats)


  • Where does he sleep at night? Is he being crate-trained?
  • What are his current weight and measurements? (to allow for purchasing the correct bed and harness prior to arrival)
  • What type of food has he been eating, and on what schedule?
  • Does he cope well with new situations, including car travel?


  • Has he been neutered?
  • Has he received any medications or treatments for parasite prevention so far?
  • What vaccinations has he had so far? (e.g. Leptospirosis)
  • Has he been checked for heart worm infection?
  • Has he been microchipped?


This post was first published on November 25th, 2014.