Congratulations on your new dog! While becoming a pet parent can be fun it is also tough work. There are many things you need to do to keep your pet safe, healthy, and happy. Whether you have a puppy or an adult the list of things to do is very similar for each.
- Dog-proofing – Before your dog makes his debut you should identify potential dangers in your house and yard. Beware of exposed wires if you have a dog that is a chewer. The best way to eliminate this hazard is by restricting the dogs access to them by hiding the wires or covering them. Check the ASPCA’s list of poisonous plants to make sure you don’t have one of them where a dog could chew on them. Lastly, make sure that all household chemicals, laundry detergent, anti-freeze, and lawn chemicals are stored out of doggy’s reach.
- Supplies – Luckily dogs don’t require a lot of supplies. Some must haves are:
- Leash and collar: Most areas require dogs to show their rabies tags at all time and to be leashed when outside their own or a designated dog park.
- A crate: Even if you don’t plan on crate-training, a kennel gives your dog a place of their own to go when anxious or just to relax. The crate should never be used for punishment. You only want good things associated with it.
- Food: Choose a high-quality food that is appropriate for your dog’s age and size. Larger dogs need a special food that keeps them from growing too fast. Puppies need a different amount of nutrients than adult dogs. This video is a good start to finding the perfect dog food
- Food and Water Bowl: These can be as simple as plastic Tupperware bowls or as fancy as monogrammed ceramic. It’s up to you to pick a set that appeals to you.
- Toys: These are essential to keep your dog amused and helping them stave off boredom. You can teach your dog what is appropriate to chew on by re-directing his attention to a toy if you find him chewing something he shouldn’t be. The Kong toy has many great reviews and makes your dog exercise his brain to get to the treat inside.
- Homecoming – The day has finally arrived where your new family member gets to come home. If you have other pets make sure they are separated from the new dog while he sniffs out his new territory. Introduce the new siblings first through a door. Watch for signs of aggression or stress. If both dogs seem fine, let them meet in a neutral area such as the backyard or, even better, a dog park. It is best to let them meet off leash so they can use doggy body language to tell each other how they are feeling. Again, keep an eye out for signs of aggression.
- First Veterinarian Visit – You should bring your pet in for a check-up within 3 days of bringing them home. This visit will make sure the dog is healthy and will catch any problems early enough to be treated. You should also schedule any vaccinations that are needed at this time. If the dog is older then 5 months and hasn’t been altered yet that should be scheduled as well. Another procedure to have done is micro-chipping. If your dog is lost this will greatly increase the chances that you will get him back. This is the first impression your dog gets of the veterinarian’s office and it’s a good idea to bring some of his favorite treats for the veterinarian and his team to give. Associating treats with the doctor will help keep your dog from becoming stressed out or scared.
- Training: Part of your job as a dog owner is teaching them what you expect. House-training, commands, and proper behavior don’t come inherently to a dog. An older dog who has had previous owners may be confused if you don’t allow them on furniture when they used to be allowed to climb in bed with their former masters. A puppy won’t understand that you want them to go potty outside until you teach them.
- Socialization: This is of the utmost importance. Introducing your dog to other dogs, unknown people, and new situations teaches them not to be afraid of change. They learn how to play with other dogs and to be friendly to people. This is the best way to prevent aggression in your dog.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it is a guide to learning how to give your dog the best start in it’s new life.