Bringing a new dog into your life, whether from a breeder, shelter or rescue, requires some planning and setup beforehand. The better equipped you are to handle your new canine friend and his or her needs, the more successful the dog's acclimation into your home will be.
Before You Bring Your New Dog Home
Getting a new dog is exciting for everyone in the household, but spend some time doing planning first. It can be stressful for a dog the first few weeks and this can lead to stress for you as well. Having everything you need ready to go makes a big difference and responsible dog owners plan ahead. So create a checklist of your necessary dog supplies and go shopping!
Leashes and Collars
Proper Dog ID
Having dog tags ready to go for your dog's collar is very important. Remember that your dog is moving into a home and yard that he has never seen before and it's not unusual for a dog to bolt out the door or open gate within the first few days. A tag with your contact information will help to increase the odds you'll be reunited if your dog becomes lost.
A Comfy Dog Bed
Your dog will need a comfortable dog bed to sleep in. Even if you are one of the many dog owners who let their dogs sleep on their bed, your dog will probably want a comfy place to rest during the day.
Crates Are a Must
A crate is an essential piece of equipment that helps with house training as well as confining your dog safely when you need to leave. Until your dog is used to your home and is out of their chewing stage, it's best to not allow them free run of the house and keep them in a crate.
Containment and Supervision
If you don't have the room for a crate or prefer a different option, you can use baby gates to keep them in a small room such as a bathroom, family room or den. This keeps your dog safe and contained if you can't be supervising him 100%.
All Dogs Need Toys
Be Ready for Grooming
You may want to take your dog to a professional groomer but you still should have some basic grooming supplies on hand, such as a brush, nail clippers and shampoo if your dog gets extra dirty between appointments.
Eating and Drinking Essentials
You will need some dog bowls for food and water and of course, dog food! Deciding on a food for your dog can be a huge topic in itself because there are so many brands to choose from. You might decide to eschew commercial dog food altogether and cook your dog's food.
Find Your Professionals
It's a good idea to locate the people you will be using to provide care for your dog during your life together.
A Veterinarian You Trust
This includes a veterinarian for all of your dog's regular health care needs. With a puppy you will also want to have a veterinarian pre-selected so you can ensure you stick to the recommended puppy vaccination schedule.
An Emergency Clinic
You should also find out what emergency veterinary care clinic there is in your area and keep their phone number in your smartphone. It's much easier to have the contact information prepared than have to search and find a place when your dog is injured or sick and you're in a panic.
If you have a puppy, find a puppy socialization class taught by a positive dog trainer. You should want to start socializing your new puppy right away so you might even want to sign him up to secure a spot in a class before your puppy comes home.
Dog Training Classes
If you're bringing home an older dog, look for a trainer giving dog manners classes, which will teach basic obedience skills. These classes are a great way for your new dog to bond to you while learning behaviors that will make your home life harmonious.
A Professional Groomer
If you have a dog that requires specialty grooming, find a groomer who is familiar with your dog's breed and will be ready to work with you when it's time for his or her first appointment.
Other Pet Care Professionals
While you may not need them right away, it's also wise to look for other pet care professionals that you may need in the future, such as a pet sitter or boarding kennel. You may find you need them sooner than expected so having an identified list ready to go will save you headaches later on.
Your New Pet Supply Store
Finally, where will you be shopping for your dog? It's good to know right away where you will be going week to week to buy dog food and supplies. For one thing, you may find that the staff at your chosen store will be extremely helpful when it comes time for advice on choosing food and equipment. It's also easier to compare prices from store to store without a dog in tow so you can pick a place that may save you money over the long run.
Establish Family Roles
If you live on your own this isn't an issue, but if you have multiple members of your household, discuss ahead of time who is going to be responsible for every aspect of a dog's care. Especially with children, you want to make sure that everyone is "on the same page" as far as exercising, feeding and training the dog. Training works best if you all discuss what words you will use for cues, and a schedule for house training as dogs learn faster if everyone is consistent.
Dog Proof Your Home
If you've never owned a dog before, you may be surprised to know how many common hazards there are in the typical home. Take a walk through your garden to make sure there are no plants that are toxic to dogs, as well as check any house plants inside.
Consider Pet Insurance
You should also consider spending some time looking into pet health insurance and pick a company to purchase a policy from once your dog is home. Pet insurance is a relatively new concept but can help save you money in the long term on your dog's health care.
Decide on a Name
Naming your dog is one of the most fun aspects of owning a pet, although some people can obsess quite a bit over it. After all, the name you choose can reflect on you and your interests and personality. Research beforehand names for your dog and have a few ready for when you finally meet and bring home your new friend.
Introducing Your Dog To Your Home
Once you have all the research, shopping and pre-dog planning discussions out of the way, it's time to bring home your new pup!
Minimize Stress the First Few Days
Coming into a new home can be very stressful for a dog, even if they don't seem stressed to you. A happy, bouncy puppy may not seem anxious to you but he or she has just had their whole world changed. Likewise an adult dog may have gone from a foster home they were familiar with or a shelter that they were stressed out in. Realize that your dog needs time to adjust and keep the activity in your household quiet for the first few days.
Set Up Your Dog's Routine Right Away
One way to reduce a new dog's stress is to introduce them immediately to their new daily routine. Whether you're a dog or a person, knowing what will happen day to day, such as when you eat, when you get exercise, and when you sleep can make you feel less anxious. This also helps to establish right away to the dog the rhythm of the household and this level of consistency will make house training as well as basic manners training much smoother.
Introduce Other Pets and Children Slowly
If you already have other pets in the home, such as a cat, follow some basic guidelines to make their introduction go smoothly. This means allowing both time to get used to each other and places for both to retreat to if it's too much for them. If you have young children or a toddler in the home, make sure you have a safe introduction process set up so your dog and child end up being future best pals.
Provide Daily Enrichment and Exercise
Another way to keep your dog from becoming stressed is to make sure they have all the exercise and mental enrichment they need on a daily basis. Depending on the type of dog you have, this might mean a nice easy 20 minute walk or two to three 30 minute jogs per day. You will also want to add training, different kinds of toys and appropriate chew items into the mix. The more your dog has to do and experience, the less likely he will become destructive or bored.
Reach Out if You Need Help
If at any time you feel over your head dealing with your new dog, don't hesitate to reach out to the list of professionals you developed. Responsible breeders will be happy to answer any questions you have to help with the transition. Likewise shelters and rescues want adoptions to be successful and want adopters to contact them if they are having a problem or a concern. Your veterinarian is also an excellent source of information.
Bringing Your New Dog Home
There's so much excitement involved with taking home a new dog that dog owners, whether new or experienced, can get carried away and forget to "do their homework." Take the time you need to get your household set up, develop a care plan with everyone in the house, and have all of your supplies ready to go before your new dog walks through your door. Doing so will minimize stress for you and your dog and let you move on to the important job of having fun with your new best friend.