By Joan Hunter Mayer
Planning ahead before bringing a new puppy or adult dog (or any pet, for that matter) into your home can help ease the transition and reduce stress — for everyone, including the dog. So, if you are in pet-parent-to-be mode this holiday season, here are some tips to help you be proactive and get started on the right paw.
Preparing to Bring Home a New Dog
Whether you’re a first-time dog guardian or a seasoned pro, if you’re considering opening your heart and home to a new canine family member, there’s a lot of advanced planning and preparation to consider.
The first task on the ‘pup prep to-do list’ is setting up the environment to maximize safety and prevent mishaps (door dashing, chewed furniture, potty accidents, etc.). Set your family and your new little buddy up for success by puppy-proofing like a champ.
Once you’ve got your management strategies lined up, the next step is to think about what you’ll need for routine day-to-day doggy care. At this stage, it really pays to do your homework so you can make informed, compassionate decisions when evaluating products and services for pet care and training. To help make pupper’s transition into your home safer, easier and happier, here’s a partial list of some necessities:
Flat Collar — So the pup can carry his or her ID! (Check with your local municipality for dog licensing requirements.)
Leash — 4’-6’ flat leashes are usually lightweight, easy to hold, and easy to clean.
Harness – Helps with walking, while taking pressure off the dog’s neck and very delicate neck structures.
Bed — A comfortable resting spot for Fido or Fluffy.
Crate, X-pen, or baby gates — For another safe, comfy area to relax and unwind. And also to help with house-training and management, so Fido doesn’t wander all over the house unsupervised. Teaching your pup to be comfortable with confinement (for short periods) has many benefits.
Water and food bowls.
Food — Check with your vet about diet and how to gradually transition to the food and feeding regimen you’ll be implementing.
Training treats — You can use regular dog food and healthy treats for training. Guardians can measure out the day’s ration ahead of time and divide portions between mealtimes and training times.
Chew toys — Dogs like to chew! Make sure you provide them with allowable items, so they don’t chew up other things that can be dangerous to them and frustrating (and expensive!) to you.
Toys, including enrichment and interactive food toys – Play is important for dogs, so make sure you have items they want to play with. Have fun discovering what toys your new friend loves!
Bathing and grooming supplies — Regular grooming is a matter of health and well-being, not just vanity.
Professional services: If you’re in the market for a groomer, dog training service, dog walker, pet sitter or daycare facility, you’ll want to start investigating names and places sooner rather than later. You’ll also want to vet the person you intend to hire. Many pet-related industries are unregulated, so check for credentials and transparent communication, not just a business license.
A veterinary professional and/or team that you work well with – Another item on the to-do list is to find a vet before you need one. When adjusting to a new home, new people and perhaps even other pets, pups might have a change in eating, drinking, and/or elimination patterns. These could be signs of stress or symptoms of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed quickly.
That said, if you are adopting or acquiring a dog during the holiday season, you know a new furry family member involves more than checking boxes off a list. So, let’s consider the ways you can help your new pup adapt successfully to our human world.
Welcome Home Doggo!
When you bring home a pet, the goal is living harmoniously together, right? As Fido explores his new environment and learns what the rules are, be a patient, understanding, and kind teacher. Be prepared to learn and teach the skills that will help you both enjoy a trusting, loving relationship. Not just for a week or two, but for life.
Generally speaking, animals (including humans!) can get stressed with change. Something as simple as establishing routines can go a long way towards easing this transition for the whole family. It’s best to decide on feeding, sleeping, and potty routines before bringing your new dog home. However, routines are adaptable, and each dog should be treated as an individual. That means, we as guardians, should be willing and able to adjust our expectations as we continually learn about our pups’ needs and preferences.
A good place to start is exploring resources on dog body language, so that when your new friend is trying to communicate (in dog-lish), you can respond with love and comfort, laying the groundwork for a strong and trusting human-canine bond.
Another fun way to bond, whether you’re providing a foster home or a furever home, is through positive reinforcement training. Planning to train on your own? Or with a professional? Whatever you choose, just remember to seek a gentle, humane approach. Reinforcing behaviors you like and want, (even when you didn’t ask) is a great foundational step.
A Personal Note
As a dog mom, I know how meaningful the human-animal bond is. I’m truly thankful each day for the relationship my sidekick (Ringo) and I have. That is why my suggestions -whether your new family member will be a puppy or adolescent, an adult or a senior – is to spend some time on the initial planning and preparation steps. That way, you’ll have more time (and energy) later to focus on all the snuggles, adventures and pawsitive experiences!
The Inquisitive Canine was founded by Santa Barbara canine behavior consultant and certified professional dog trainer Joan Hunter Mayer. Joan and her team are devoted to offering humane, pawsitive, practical solutions that work for the challenges dogs and their humans face in everyday life. Here’s to barking with the dogs, cheering for the humans, and having fun!