Cheat Sheet: Preparing for a New Dog
It’s important to consider which dog will best fit in with your lifestyle as well as the preparations that a new furry family member requires. From choosing a breed to puppy-proofing to supplies, here’s a quick guide for what you should do before you bring home your new dog or puppy:
Consider Activity Level
This may be the number-one question to ask yourself. If you are looking for a mellow fellow, avoid sporting, herding, and terrier-type dogs. If you’re hoping for a jogging partner, stay away from short-nosed dogs or toy dogs—they won’t be able to keep up.
Consider Your Schedule
Do you have a long commute to work? No dog wants to be left home alone all day, and if you are considering adopting a puppy, you will need to provide him with extra time and attention. Even an older dog who is thoroughly housetrained shouldn’t go for hours on end alone. You may need to plan for a pet sitter, dog walker, trusted neighbor, or doggy daycare to help you out.
Consider Your Housemates
Do you have children or another dog? When choosing a breed or shelter dog, make sure the dog will fit into your home and has the potential to thrive with your other housemates. It’s best for everyone’s safety that dogs are placed in homes well suited to their temperaments.
Find a Vet
When it comes to finding a vet, it’s a great idea to decide on one before you bring your dog home. Ask friends and family for referrals and check out the different clinics. Most dog owners feel more comfortable choosing a vet once they’ve seen the clinic and met the staff. Once you find a clinic you love, make sure you are equally happy with the doctor. Every vet is different, and it’s important that you are confident enough in yours to be willing to leave your sick or injured dog in her hands.
Get a First-Aid Kit
Having a first-aid kit on hand will give you the tools you need if your dog has a minor medical situation. In the event of a serious or life-threatening incident, the supplies in the kit may help you keep your pet stable until you get to the vet’s office.
• adhesive tape
• antibacterial ointment
• antidiarrheal medication
• antihistamine medication
• cotton balls
• gauze pads
• hydrogen peroxide (3 percent)
• thermometer (normal canine temperature: 100°F–102.5°F)
Keep Food Out of Reach, Especially These Toxic Foods:
• alcoholic drinks
• apple seeds
• caffeinated drinks
• macadamia nuts
• pits from peaches, plums, and cherries
• xylitol, an artificial sweetener
Keep Plants Out of Reach, Especially These Toxic Plants:
• aloe vera
• eucalyptus trees
• ivy plants
• rhubarb plants
• shamrock plants
Keep Your Home Escape-Proof
A dog who can bolt off into the unknown is at risk. Until your dog can reliably obey the stay command by an open door, you will need to take extra measures to keep him safely inside.
Prevent Destructive Chewing
Dogs explore the world with their mouths, and our homes are filled with small things that are easy to chew and swallow. Get on your dog’s level and stow away anything that can be hazardous to his health. Introduce dog chew toys early on so your new pup knows what’s acceptable to chew on.
Have These Supplies Ready
Gates: You may want to limit your dog to certain rooms or keep him from going up or down stairs, especially if you’re housetraining a puppy. Make sure that the bars on the gate are close enough together that the dog cannot get his head stuck. If you have a young pup or a dog who likes to chew, a wooden gate may not be the best choice.
Bedding: Dog beds come in a wide variety of styles, from thin pads to orthopedic foam to soft, loosely padded pillows. Make sure your dog has a comfortable place to rest. A good option is a dog bed that has a removable, machine-washable cover.
Collar & Leash: Your dog needs at least one collar. The safest, easiest collar is a “flat collar” with a quick-release fastener, which is helpful when you need to take your dog out quickly and frequently during the housetraining process.
Crate: Your dog’s crate is his place of peace and solitude. Make sure you get a well-ventilated crate that’s just big enough for him to stand, lay down, and turn around with some comfy bedding inside.
Exercise Pen: If you don’t have a room that works well to confine your dog, consider getting an exercise pen. They’re useful for those times when you need your pup to be kept someplace safe but not necessarily confined to his crate.
Bowls: Your dog requires two sturdy bowls: one for food and one for water. Although ceramic ones may be decorative, they are breakable. Your most practical option is sturdy, dishwasher-safe, stainless-steel bowls.
Grooming Supplies: The requirements for grooming a Poodle are a lot more complicated than those for a Lab. Do some research on your chosen breed’s grooming requirements before you purchase any grooming supplies.
Identification: When you register your dog with your municipality, you will receive a dog tag that can help identify him if he ever gets lost. Also get him a personalized tag that has your cell phone number engraved on it. Microchipping your dog is a permanent way for shelters and vets to identify your dog and get in touch with you.
The Right Toys: Get a variety of puppy-friendly toys and see what he responds to. If you’re adopting an adult dog, ask the shelter if he has any favorite toys so you can stock up on what he likes best.
Bond With Your New Pup
In those first few important days, you’ll need to spend as much time as possible with your new dog to bond with him and help him feel comfortable in his new environment. Taking a few days off from work is ideal. There may be a couple of rough nights in the beginning as he adjusts—this is a good time to establish clear boundaries and a reliable routine so he doesn’t get confused or overwhelmed.