Making the decision to get a new dog can be an exciting and happy time, and that is how the experience of pet ownership should remain. All too often, though, do people dive into the process of getting a dog and that’s that. However, careful planning and consideration should go into the decision so that the outcome is as fun and pleasant for both you and the new family member as it can be.
Before you bring your new dog home
Have a discussion: If you live in a multi-person household, everyone needs to be on the same page in regards to getting a dog. Dogs are a big commitment, and one that will last for a long time, so sit down as a household and ask are you all happy with the idea of having a dog? Is everyone going to do their bit in terms of taking care of them? Who will be the primary caretaker? Does your home accommodate a dog’s needs? What will be the house rules?
Do some research: Take some time to have a look online and collect any books about dogs, dog training, and dog breeds. Different breeds and types of dogs come with different challenges and benefits and getting on top of these will put you ahead of the game and give you the opportunity to anticipate anything that may come.
Lay down some rules: Make a rota so that everyone has a clear understanding of their duties. Set up some rules and guidelines for your new family member. Decide whether or not you will allow your dog on the furniture. Are there any off-limits areas? Where will they sleep? Having a specific set of rules will help to keep order around the house when things get hectic, and will ease the transition for both you and your dog, knowing the boundaries.
Stock up: Make a list of basic supplies you’ll need for your new dog and go out and grab them before you bring the newest family member home. Some basics include:
- A crate
- Food suitable for the age of the dog
- Chew toys and comfort toys
- A bed
- A collar and leash
- Some training treats again suitable for the dogs age
- As many baby gates as you’ll need to separate room and no-go areas
- Cleaning products suitable for dogs any messes that may be made
Getting these items beforehand will save you having to run out last minute to pick anything up, taking away bonding time with your new pup, and will give you a chance to prepare your home and foolproof any things that a new puppy or dog might be able to chew or damage. Take the time to ensure any unsafe products are out of reach from a puppy or a dog, the last thing you want is a sudden hefty vet bill or an awful illness.
Meet each other: If you can, try to meet your new dog in a neutral environment before you bring them home so that both you and your dog can figure out each other’s temperament. Bring the whole family bit by bit and then together so that your dog can gradually get used to all of the people it will come to know and be around so that any future meetings won’t be an overwhelming shock for them.
Prepare the journey home: Have you decided who will travel to pick the new dog up? Ensure you have childcare if necessary. Try not to take too many people as a crowded car may spook a new dog who may be nervous on the trip anyway. Take a new toy with you for comfort, or use one that they’re already used to if available. Have someone sit next to your dog for comfort, but don’t smother them, give them the freedom to look around if they want to and the option to cuddle in close if need be, just make sure they are secure and safe in the car.
Arriving at home
Take it slow and calm: As tempting as it may be, don’t make a huge fuss of the new dog as soon as it walks through the door, loud and sudden actions may overwhelm or spook your new dog, setting them up for anxiety and separation anxiety, both of which are very difficult for both you and your dog, and are difficult to overcome. Let them get used to their new and scary surroundings in a calm atmosphere.
Keep them on their leash at first: Taking them off the leash at the front door is basically a signal interpreted by the dog as “Go free into your own personal playground!” This is not the first impression your dog needs, and will only serve you badly for the future. Take them in slowly on their leash, allowing them to sniff whatever you let them, and allowing you some control over where they can’t go, subtly letting them know early on where the safe and unsafe zones of their home are.
Introduce them to their crate: A crate can be a great tool in training, and if you have a pre-owned dog, they may already be used to crates, however, every dog, whether a puppy or adult will need time to adjust to their new crate and may be reluctant at first. It is essential that, when utilizing the crate, it is not used for punishment, this crate may become their safe space where they can escape to with the knowledge that they will not be bothered or harmed in there in any way, and in doing so, this method will make it much easier to use the crate for training purposes, and they will be happy to pop in there when you have to leave them alone in the house.
Start training: Everyone knows that the earlier and younger we start to learn something, the faster and better it sticks. This is the same in dogs, the earlier you start training them, the faster good behaviour and tricks will stick, and the better-behaved dog you will have in the future. Getting them in a routine early on will only work out for the best too, as your new pup will come to anticipate certain behaviours and routines that are the norm in your home — set out specific bedtimes, feeding times, potty times, and walking times.
Get them microchipped: Microchipping is a mandatory requirement for all dogs so the sooner you get it done and registered, the safer you and your dog will be, and this will come in handy if your dog ever gets loose or goes missing.
Register with a vet: With most vets, you can register on the first visit, and doing so will ensure your dog will receive any vaccinations they need and will give you a sure place to go in the event of an emergency.
Have a lifetime of fun and happiness: Deciding to own a dog is lifelong commitment and one that can bring many years of happiness and love into your life and the lives of those around you, and though they don’t live forever (we wish) it’s important to give them the best possible life filled with joy. The best thing you can do is adopt a dog, so pop to your local shelter or check out any rescues, and give a home to a loyal and wonderful companion!