By Aileen Choi
In 2020, I jumped on the bandwagon: I got a puppy! Since I expected to be at home more often due to the pandemic, I thought it would be the perfect time to take care of a growing puppy. Little did I know that taking care of a cuddly, furry friend would be a lot more work than I expected. However, I quickly adapted and came up with some strategies to help me better handle these exciting new times. Here are some tips to help new dog owners retain some of their sanity and save time throughout the day.
- Be consistent with waking up and feeding times. Have a designated section in your pantry/fridge for dog food and measure out the meals in advance (if you plan to use wet dog food or add in meat/veggies). Having a routine helps me remember if I and when I gave each. meal to my pup and it helps her feel at ease. Measuring out meals in advance saves me so much time as well, especially on days when I’m busy with work.
- Look ahead in your week and plan out when you can go on walks, when you need someone else to watch your pup, and the best days to go to vet visits (you’ll be doing this a lot in the beginning!). My schedule changes daily, so I always make sure I know when I have breaks so I can take my dog out.
- On that note, use Google Calendar or a similar app to schedule all your pup-related tasks to take advantage of every minute. I have reminders for meals, walks, snack times, and monthly flea prevention meds.
- Estimate how long your daily puppy activities will take. In the beginning, everything took longer than I expected; from feeding her to taking baths to getting ready for walks, I quickly learned to budget more time than I initially planned for.
- Set timers. In the beginning, these adorable babies will need to go outside for potty breaks about 30 minutes after they eat. I found that setting timers to remind myself when I needed to step outside was a lifesaver.
- Create a running checklist of items you need to buy (e.g., more dog food, a new harness, a new toy) and a to-do list for non-repeating activities, like a vet appointment or grooming session.
- Keep all your vet papers in one folder in case you need to submit them for puppy insurance and/or future examinations.
Looking back on these past few months, I’ve realized that executive functioning skills are crucial for all sorts of tasks in all sorts of situations. Many of these tips can apply in your everyday life, such as using Google Calendar to plan out your week with calls and grocery runs, creating a running checklist of necessities, estimating how long it would take to cook a meal, and keeping a folder for your own important documents. I’m constantly adjusting and being flexible with my plans. I hope these tips will help you be more efficient and organized with your new routines—puppy or not!