Talk to a Pro

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As noted, all of my blogs are purely anecdotal, and only recount our own personal experiences. If you’re getting a dog for the first time (or at least the first time in your adult life, because it quickly became clear that I remembered nothing about dog ownership from the puppy we got when I was 11), I’d really recommend meeting with a professional to help get you started.

There are a ton of great dog walkers in San Francisco, which is a good place to start. Check out the list on the Walkers & Trainers page, and also ask around for a personal recommendation from friends or neighbors who have dogs. It’s a good idea to talk to a dog walker or trainer even before you get your puppy, because they typically have a lot of experience with different breeds and can help you figure out which would be best for your lifestyle, as well as how to set up your home, what supplies you’ll need, and the type of food to feed your dog to keep it as healthy as possible. They may also be able to help you come up with a custom plan for training and taking care of your puppy, based on your work hours and dog-walking schedule. When Brewster was young, we did a full-day puppy playgroup on weekdays, since we both worked full-time jobs and didn’t want our new pup to be home alone in his crate for too long. We also felt good knowing that he was getting great exercise, training, and socialization with both dogs and people. It’s definitely more of an investment than just hiring a dog walker to drop by a couple times per day to walk your dog for a bathroom break, but you and your puppy get a lot more out of it.

It’s also a good idea to sign up for a group training class to start soon after you get your new puppy, because you want to practice training right away during their most formative months. We took SmartyPup!‘s Level 1 class, and we got so many helpful tips on training that were especially useful living in a city — e.g., being able to recall your dog in a busy park, so you can let him play off-leash without worrying. Some of this they may get with the dog walker, but it’s always good to reinforce it and learn how to practice the training yourself.

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