Bringing home a new dog is an act of sheer love. Joy and adoration await you, but so does responsibility. Follow these steps to prepare yourself, your home and your dog for a great experience.
Adopt for life
The first step to bringing home a new dog is making a commitment to the animal. Dog ownership is not a “try it and see” step. Putting a new dog back up for adoption after a short time in your home will traumatize it. This is why giving a child a puppy for Christmas or a birthday can be a bad idea. Leave emotion out of the decision to adopt and be realistic about your ability to offer your new animal a suitable “forever” home.
Getting home ready for the new dog
- Once you’ve decided you’re ready for a new dog, decide in advance what the rules will be. Who will be the primary caregiver? Where will the dog sleep? Is your new pet allowed on the furniture? Will you allow the dog to roam the house while you’re gone or confine her to a designated area? Figuring out the answers to these questions ahead of time will make for a smoother transition for your new dog and your family.
- Stock up on supplies: a bed, food and water bowls, toys (especially chew toys, if your new dog is a puppy), a leash and a collar or halter.
- Know that accidents will happen, especially with still-house-training puppies. Keep on hand special cleaners designed to remove pet stains and smells.
- Research and choose healthy food for your new pet. Some brands are nutritious while others aren’t. Learn which human foods are healthy and which are dangerous to dogs.
- Choose a good crate. The crate is often an essential part of traveling with your dog. Many pet owners choose to have their dog sleep in a crate as well. Purchase one the right size for the animal and help your dog get accustomed to it. Line the crate with a cushy pad to keep your new dog comfortable, and teach him to go in and out on command.
- If you’re confining your dog to a designated space, use a baby gate. Your new pet will feel less confined than behind a closed door.
- Teach your children how to care for your new dog and play with her appropriately. Make sure they understand the house rules for the pet.
Getting the dog ready for home
- Line up a good veterinarian and have her examine the dog before you commit to adoption. This will give you a head start on giving your new dog the best possible home.
- Before bringing your dog home, learn all you can about its history. Was she abused or neglected before she came to you? Did he come from a home with working people who kept him locked up all day? Knowing your pet’s past will help you be attentive to its special needs.
- Consider the dog’s age. A puppy will be full of energy and may need to be house-broken. He’ll also need to chew a lot, so provide plenty of appropriate toys. An older dog may have physical limitations that require accommodation, such as a need for medication or difficulty with stairs.
- Some dog breeds are quite sociable while others can be standoffish. If you are introducing the dog to a big family or to other pets, be mindful of his needs.
- Don’t be angry with a puppy that chews or is not yet house-trained. He’s only doing what comes naturally. Instead, patiently correct the behavior and reward right choices with treats and affection. One method for teaching a house-training dog to go outside is to attach a bell hanging from a ribbon to the inside knob of the exterior door. Each time you take the dog out for a bathroom break, ring the bell. Your dog will soon learn to ring the bell with its nose when it needs to go out.