First time adopting a dog and feeling a little anxious? Not to worry—we’ve put together a clear and easy-to-follow list of preparatory steps so you can set aside the uncertainties and really enjoy the first weeks with your new best friend.
Steps for Preparing for a New Dog
Things You’ll Need:
1. ID Tag - When you go to the rescue to pick up your new pooch, make sure you bring an ID tag for your new pooch. Even if it’s your first trip to the shelter and you don’t know which dog you’re adopting yet, it’s best to be prepared and have an ID tag that contains vital information like your contact numbers on there.
2. Dog Food - While you’re picking up your new dog, ask the shelter what kind of food your dog has been eating so you can replicate this diet for the next week to avoid any gastric upsets. If you decide to switch your dog’s diet, do so gradually over the next few weeks by introducing small amounts of the new food into her diet.
3. Dog Bowls - Make sure you have food and water bowls available when you bring home the new pup. After you talk to your pooch’s vet for the first time, you can gradually switch to breed and age-specific food for your dog.
4. Leash & Collar - A lot of shelters with send you home with a complimentary leash and collar, but in case they don’t, make sure you have a set ready when you pick up your new dog.
Thing You’ll Need to Do:
1. Doggy-Proof Your House - This takes no more than thirty to forty minutes max, but it’s imperative for your new pup’s safety that you do a thorough job. Doggy-proofing involves making sure no electrical cords and wires are exposed in your house, storing your household chemicals and cleaners on high shelves, removing any fragile high-value items that may be easily broken, and installing a baby gate if needed.
2. Find a Nearby Vet - If an emergency happens within the first couple of days, you want to make sure you know where the closest vet is in your neighborhood. It’s also a good idea to take your new pup to the vet within the first week to get a first checkup and more in-depth information on you dog’s health, needs, and possible medical problems.
3. Consistent Commands - When you pick up your new dog, ask the shelter if they have a list of the commands to which your new dog responds. As situating into a new environment is already stressful for your pooch, you want to make sure that communicating with him is as clear and stress-free as possible. Let your family and friends know what these commands are to avoid any confusion in communicating with your pup.
4. FAQs - With all the excitement of bringing home a new dog, these FAQs are unfortunately not as frequently asked as they should be. When you pick up your dog, be sure to ask the shelter what the pooch’s anxiety triggers are (if any), what her bathroom habits are like (i.e., how many bowel movements you should expect a day), if she has any allergies, and how much exercise she’s been getting on a daily basis.
5. A Quiet, Calm Place - For the first several days, try to create as calm of an environment for your new dog so he has time to adapt and adjust to his new home. This means not introducing him to all your friends for the first few days (even though we know you’re excited) and taking him to smaller, less populated parks for walks. This will give you a chance to have more alone time with him and get to know his personality, possible anxiety triggers, and likes and dislikes.
Most of all, have fun with your new pup! The two of you are about to embark on an exciting and wonderful adventure, so enjoy the first weeks of your new friendship together. If you ever have any questions about diet, training, or best practices, don’t forget to use our extensive Tips & Tricks posts as a guide.