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If you've decided to adopt your first puppy, congratulations! You're about to meet your new best friend and fall in love in a way you might not have known was possible. There is something so pure about puppy love – you never anticipate just how thrilling it is going to be getting to know the new member of your family.

Before you bring your new puppy home, you'll want to know all the important information for making the process as smooth as possible. Here is what you need to know about shots, dog insurance, and more.

Shots or vaccinations
There are a number of common illnesses that puppies can get, and they range from mild to severe. Yes, some of them are potentially fatal. But don't let that worry you. They are generally completely preventable, and your puppy will be fine as long as you get the right shots.

For a comprehensive guide to puppy vaccination, take a look at the American Kennel Club’s first-year vaccination schedule.

To insure or not to insure?
Many pet owners choose not to insure their pets. Their reasoning is that it seems like a gratuitous cost. Some people feel as though it is treating animals as if they're humans, and are simply uncomfortable with this.

However, the fact is that if your puppy falls ill or gets badly injured, you are going to have to pay expensive vet bills. Veterinary care is not as expensive as human health care, but it is costly nonetheless, and especially so if you're already living on a month-to-month basis. Pet insurance will cover you in case anything goes wrong, and will help you deal with general complications as your dog ages.

Allergy tests
Before you adopt your puppy, you should get everyone in your household to undergo allergy tests. Unfortunately, many people underestimate just how debilitating allergies to pets can be. If you or a family member is allergic to dogs, you may not be able to live in the same house as one.

As sad as this is, it is better to find out before you've invited a dog into your home and fallen in love with it. Find out just how allergic you are and whether you will be able to manage. Don’t try to tough it out. You'll only end up harming yourself and delaying the inevitable.

Prepare your kids
Puppies are great with children, and watching them grow up together is truly a joy. Most of the time, they learn to love and respect each other fairly seamlessly. However, you must remember that your children are still liable to make mistakes or errors in judgment! Something a child thinks is nice for a dog – like a bar of chocolate – can be harmful.

Furthermore, misunderstandings can occur. Your puppy may be play-fighting with your child, but if your child gets frightened and thinks he’s being attacked, the situation can escalate. The same is true, vice versa. Unhappy accidents can occur when a child just doesn’t understand how to relate to a puppy.

Prepare your kids by sharing what will make your puppy happy and what will make it sad. Let them know that while the puppy is their friend and loves them, it also needs to be respected.

Prepare yourself as well by putting certain boundaries into place. For example, if your kids are still very young, you may not want to leave them alone with the puppy.

The good news is that with puppies, most of your concerns are going to work themselves out. Puppies are adaptable and loving, and are great with children. You're about to fall in love. Good luck!

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