A guide to welcoming a new dog into your home
It’s a new year, and the start of a new decade. Maybe you want to remodel your kitchen, or start that novel you’ve always wanted to write, or maybe you’d like to welcome a new furry companion into your life. These are all great ideas, but with new pets comes great responsibility. Whether you are looking for a puppy or wanting to adopt a dog from the shelter, it is important to make sure you are considering every aspect of your life and what type of companion you are looking for before taking the plunge.
Dogs are a lifelong commitment, well their life, and some breeds can live 15+ years. Making sure that you are committed to providing a long-term loving home, and that you are financially able to provide for their needs will be the biggest considerations.
It’s easy to see that puppy in the window and want to take them home. They’re small, they’re cute, and let’s face it — puppy breath smells amazing! But puppies get bigger, they lose that puppy breath, and sometimes they might not grow up to be the cutest. For instance when the neighbor’s cat roams into your garden and your just-bathed dog comes in smelling like a litter box, yuck, and then jumps on the couch, double yuck! So if you cherish a clean house and don’t want Spot jumping on your furniture or staining up your carpet then maybe a fish would make a better companion for you.
Getting a puppy comes with lots of responsibilities. In the first year of life, puppies require a lot of training, patience, and money. The first few trips to the vet will be spendy, but it is well worth it to make sure your new family member is healthy, and will live a long happy life. These trips will include a check-up, shots, and eventually a spay or neuter.
Choose Your Breed
Consider the breed of dog you want. Each breed comes with their own quirks, and different dietary and physical needs. You also want to take into account the place you live in, what size yard you have, and how physical your own lifestyle is. Some dogs require lots of space, physical activity and mental stimulation to prevent boredom; while other breeds are more complacent. It’s obvious that if you live in a small apartment you probably don’t want to adopt a Great Dane.
Do your research to find out if there are any breed restrictions in your area. As an example, some communities have restrictions on large “bully” breeds. If there are, be sure to move very soon, because no one has time for such negativity. A dog is a dog is a dog, treat them right and they will be your best friend forever!
But in all seriousness, we know you can’t just up and move so making sure that you get the right breed for your situation is just as important.
Find a Vet
Dogs can be unpredictable at times, and it’s important to have a reliable vet you can take your dog to at a moment’s notice (especially with puppies).
You will want to make sure that your dog is tagged, vaccinated, and micro chipped. Micro chipping your dog is highly recommended , especially if your dog likes to bolt every time you open your door. Collar tags can potentially fall off, or you might forget to put their collar on, so having them micro chipped will ensure that your dog can readily be identified and you can easily be contacted. Always remember to update the microchip information if you move or change phone numbers.
Meet the Family
Once you have found a dog you wish to adopt, bring your family and other dog(s) back to the shelter for a meet and greet. Most shelters encourage this before taking your new companion home to ensure that all dogs get along and that they are a good fit for each other. This also helps reduce the likelihood of having to return the dog to the shelter later if they aren’t getting along.
If you already have a dog (or 3), it is important you consider their needs and roles in the house before adding a new member to the family. You also want to make sure that the new dog will have their own space, food bowl, and bed so they can get acclimated to their new home. This will help reduce anxiety in their new space.
If there are small kids in the house it is imperative that they know how to treat animals nicely, and that the dog is kid friendly. Small children can be unpredictable, they can grab, pinch, jump, and even bite the dog, so an even-tempered dog is a must!
Exercise and Train
Dogs require a lot of training, time, and attention. If you work 12 hours a day it will be really hard to take care of a new dog properly, especially a puppy. We are not trying to discourage you from finding your new best friend, but if you do work a lot consider hiring a dog walker to come once or twice a day to let them out and get some exercise. This can help prevent boredom, and reduce the likelihood of them developing unwanted habits like excessive barking, chewing or other attention seeking, or anxious behaviors. You can also take them to a doggy day care; these can get expensive so this isn’t the option for everyone but it is a great way to socialize your dog, that way you know he's well taken care of and not lonely while you are at work.
With any dog you want to make sure that you keep your training consistent and fresh so there isn’t a chance of your dog repeating or picking up bad behaviors. This is especially true with puppies, while potty training and teaching basic manners. The faster you can get your dog housebroken, the better you and your new puppy will both feel. You’ll also want to have lots of chew toys laying around to keep their mind preoccupied from chewing on furniture or your favorite shoes!
There are lots of videos online and guides on how to properly train your dog, but not every dog is going to be the same and what works for some might not work for you. Find a starting point that you and your puppy are comfortable with and then evolve your training from there.
The best way to train your dog is with treats! Dogs are very food motivated and respond the best with positive reinforcement. With any good behavior, you reward them with treats and they are bound to respond and pick up the training very quickly.
On the other hand, Dogs do not respond well to negative reinforcement like yelling, or punishment (ie, putting them outside if they have an accident inside). This kind of treatment can result in anxiety issues, bad behaviors or a dog that won’t respond to you, which can be very frustrating not only to you, but to the dog as well.
If you have tried any type of training and your dog doesn’t seem to be picking it up, then seeking help with a professional dog trainer might be your next step. There are also many pet stores that offer group training sessions, that can be significantly cheaper than a one-on-one trainer.
Make a List, Check It Twice
Once you have decided that bringing a new dog home is the best for you and your family, you will want to make sure that they have everything they need to feel right at home. If you already have dogs chances are you have everything, but if you are new to owning a dog, here is a checklist to make sure that you are fully prepared before bringing home your new furry best friend!
- Training pads for puppies
- ID Tag & Microchip information
- Leash & Collar
- Food & Water Dishes
- Size appropriate crate
- Enzyme cleaner for “Uh-oh” moments
- Chew deterrent (bitter spray)
- Doggy gates (baby gates)
- Poop bags
- Doggy shampoo
Now that you are all set, we hope that you enjoy the love, affection, companionship, laughter, and light your new dog will bring to your home!