During these uncertain times, our dogs and cats have been such a comfort to us. Do you have a new puppy or are you thinking about adopting a pet? Getting a new dog – puppy or adult – is such an exciting experience, but it can also be daunting. Spending more time at home these days doesn’t always mean it’s easy to carve out time to train and care for a new pet. But, it’s always worth the investment. Putting in the time now will set you up for a long, happy life together.
Here are a few tips that will help prepare you and your home for a new dog.
Before bringing your new dog home:
- Prepare your home. Look around. Are there any rooms that will be off-limits? What about furniture? Think about anything that could be a possible hazard. Are your blind cords dangling low? Tie them up. Any plants that are potentially poisonous? Give them to a neighbor. Any items you don’t want damaged? Find a safe place to store them. (Yes, it may be time to put those favorite shoes in a box higher in your closet.)
- Buy the necessities. It probably goes without saying, but you need to purchase an adjustable collar, a leash, water/food bowls plus a mat, a crate (if you’re crate training), a bed, a few toys, and food. Ask the shelter or breeder what they have been feeding your new pet, and then check with your vet to see if they recommend any adjustments. Note: if they have any allergies, food can be a big trigger.
- Do the research. House training typically takes around 6 months. It’s important to be consistent with taking your dog out regularly, and feeding them a consistent times to establish their potty routine. There are lots of ways to train. Using puppy pads, hanging a bell by the door so they can signal, and of course rewarding good behavior.
- Make an exercise plan. Do you live in the city? Research the nearest dog park or dog-friendly walking routes. Already have a running or walking routine? Figure out how to integrate your dog into that schedule. (Note: they’ll need to gradually build up to your mileage.) If you’re exercising for long periods of time outside, remember to purchase a collapsible bowl or special dog water bottle that makes it easy to hydrate your pet.
- Find a vet and make an appointment. Set up a vet appointment to make sure your pet doesn’t have any issues that need to be addressed soon – this goes for adult dogs as well as puppies. Don’t forget to get the medical records from the breeder or shelter so that you can bring them with you to the appointment and ensure your dog’s vaccinations are all up-to-date.
Once your new pride-and-joy has arrived:
- Don’t rush the first few days. Your new friend will need time to adjust. A new home is like a foreign country – new sights, new sounds, new smells, new routines, new people (and sometimes other furry friends). Understanding how your dog processes and adjusts to all these novel stimuli will help ease the transition for everyone.
- Help ease their anxiety. Expose your pet to experiences like garbage trucks, kids at a playground, or the mail delivery van at a distance and reward calm behavior. Calm introductions to new sights and sounds set our pets up for success.
- Invest in a microchip or ID tag. We recommend microchipping your pet over ID tags, but either is critical to having your pet returned to you if they are ever lost. It’s important to know that a microchip is not a GPS tracker; however, if your pet is lost and is turned into a shelter or vet, they can easily identify you as the owner and contact you through scanning the chip. Ask your vet!
- Consider pet insurance. Pet insurance is something to look into as soon as you bring your new pet home. If your vet identifies a health issue before you get insurance, sadly, treatment for the issue won’t be covered for the life of your pet. So, it’s an important thing to secure early, in order to save money later. Check out our earlier blog on pet insurance if you still have questions.
- Start training.Although it can be challenging, training is an important investment of your time. Train for the adult dog you want. While a puppy jumping on you may be cute and easy to deal with, a full-grown dog jumping on you (or your kids and friends) may be too much. It’s never too early to start your training together. Check out our blog here for some really helpful puppy training tips to get started.
- Don’t forget about mental enrichment. Dog’s need lots of mental enrichment to reduce anxiety and lead a happy life. Just like humans, dogs need to exercise their brain as much as their legs. Try putting their kibble or favorite treats in a snuffle mat for rooting and foraging. Of course, for ball-obsessed puppies and dogs, try the iFetch and iFetch Too ball launchers and iFetch Frenzy to keep their mind fresh. And if you have a digging dog, hiding toys and treats in the iDig is sure to be a winner.
We wish you the very best of luck as you embark on your new dog adventure. We hope you both have a lifetime of happiness together!