Here are a few considerations that prospective pet parents should take into account in the months, weeks, and days before bringing home a new dog or puppy.
Take some time off work: It’s hard on a dog to come to a new home on Sunday and then have an owner be absent for a 12 hour workday on Monday. Trust takes time to establish, as does comfort in a new environment. Puppies may sorely miss the company of their littermates and dam. The shelter environment is emotionally stressful and traumatic for many dogs, and these dogs very much benefit from the comfort of a new friend’s company and support to teach them that the new environment is safe.
If you are unable to take time off work, try to bring your dog home on a Friday so that you may have the weekend to spend with your dog before returning to work. Make plans to dedicate this weekend to helping your dog adjust to her new home.
Research Pet Professionals: Before you even bring your dog home, do some research. What veterinarian will you use? What trainer or groomer will you hire? Are you planning on using a pet sitter or dog walker? If so, you may want to book appoints with these professionals well in advance of your dog’s arrival date.
Schedule a Veterinary Appointment: Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that your new dog may be examined within a week or two of arriving at your home.
Consider hiring a trainer to help you introduce your new dog to resident pets: First impressions are everything. An experienced, qualified behavior professional will help you set all your pets up for success by making introductions as low-stress and comfortable as possible.
Enroll in training: Many dog training schools require that pet parents attend an orientation session without their dogs prior to attending classes. You can attend orientation before you even bring your dog home in many cases, which will allow you to modify your shopping list so you have all the supplies needed for class.
“Puppy proof”: Puppies (and many adult dogs) are much like human infants in that they explore their environment by putting anything and everything into their mouths. This may sound silly, but crawl around on your floor – at puppy or dog height, what’s chewable? Place breakables and house plants out of reach, secure electrical cords and outlets, making sure any medications and cleaning products are inaccessible. Clean up the garage as well – most liquids for car maintenance are toxic to dogs. Anti-freeze, even in small amounts, can be fatal to dogs, cats, humans, and other animals.
Smells of Home: If you are getting a new puppy, you may want to ask the breeder or rescue to rub the dam and littermates down with a small dish towel which you can take home with your puppy. She may find the scents of her first home, mom, and littermates comforting in her new home.
Division of Labor: Have a family meeting to allocate responsibilities fairly. Who will walk the dog? Who will attend training class with the dog? Who will groom the dog? Who is in charge of feeding? Poop-scooping? How often will these activities be performed?
What are the rules?: What are the rules of the new home? Is the dog allowed on beds or furniture? Where will the dog sleep?
Stay tuned! Tomorrow we will be talking about how to create a soothing, welcoming environment for your new best friend.