Things to Consider
- Are you prepared to make a commitment to the dog for its lifetime, up to 18 years for some breeds
- Do you have a few extra hours each day to spend with your dog?
- Who will walk, train, and care for the dog? Who will maintain the medical records and ensure timely vetting?
- Is anyone in your household or any regular visitor allergic to pet dander?
- How do you plan to introduce visitors who may be afraid of dogs?
- Where will the dog live and sleep?
- Do you have a securely fenced yard and properly maintained gates and locks?
- Do you already have a veterinarian?
- Are you prepared for the monthly maintenance costs like food, toys, heartworm, and flea prevention?
- Who will take care of the pet during your vacations?
- What will happen to the pet in the event of a marriage, divorce, new baby, or move?
Once you have decided that you want to invite a new pet into your family, you need to find the best fit for your family's activity level and lifestyle preferences.
- Are you active and would like a dog to run with you? Or is your lifestyle a bit quieter? It's important to match your lifestyle to your dog's exercise requirement and desires.
- Do you mind cleaning up after dog hair? Long Haired breeds are gorgeous, but require maintenance and grooming and they usually shed, so there will be cleanup. Non-shedding breeds require grooming too, and regular haircuts.
- First time Dog owner or have some experience? Think about the level of training challenge you are committing too, some dogs are more difficult to train than others, some issue might require help from a professional trainer, are you prepared for that?
- Does housetraining a puppy scare you? It's usually not difficult, but time-consuming and requires patience, so maybe a fully training adult dog might be worth considering
- Working full time or working from home? Some Dogs don't like being home alone a lot while others enjoy the extra quiet nap time, it's important to match your needs with your dogs needs. Please consider how many hours the dog would spend alone in your home on a regular basis.
Before you bring your new dog home
- Make sure the new dog is healthy - most rescues adopt "fully vetted" dogs, ask if that includes:
- Vaccinations - 1 for adults and a series of 3 for puppies
- Rabies Vaccinatio - along with tag and Rabies certificate
- Flea and parasite treatment - ask when and for which worms specifically
Heartworm test and preventative - ask when the dog was tested, result and which preventative is used
Spay/neuter - ask for date and vet info who performed the operation
Microchip - ask for number, tag and registration information
- Make sure you have all necessary supplies
- Bowls for food and water and location selected, so you don't have to move it and confuse the dog
- Leash and collar and ID tag, with you contact information on it
- Bedding and crate
- Toys and a few treats
- Food - ask what food he has been eating and have some to gradually switch to your desired brand
- Make sure you have checked your fence for any areas the dog might get over or under (or through) and repair any questionable areas
- Make sure any breakables or fragile valuables are stored outside of the pets reach until you know you can trust your new dog not to chew, steal or destroy them.
- Dog proof you home: Toilets closed, electrical cords safeguarded, house plants out of reach, reachable food items in the kitchen removed.
- Garbage closed/secured.
Considerations for puppies
Please keep in mind that they are still babies. Puppies do best with consistent feeding and eating schedules; which also helps facilitate house training - feed your puppy on a consistent schedule and take him out often - after each meal, immediately after he is let out of his crate and first thing in the morning. Your puppy will give a clue on when he needs to go and you need to learn what his or her specific cue is, which will require close supervision.
Toys should be age and pet specific - cat toys are too small for most dogs and can be dangerous as they can be swallowed, as can toys that aren't designed for dogs.
Use caution when exposing puppies to other dogs and don't take them to high-traffic locations such as dog parks or pet events until they are fully vaccinated.
Make sure your puppy or kitten gets enough quality time with you and the rest of your family. Discuss in advance which behaviors you want to reward and which behaviors you want to ignore (are they allowed on the sofa or not) and make sure everyone in the family is prepared to be consistent with training. Avoid rough play patterns, as they teach bad habits that are hard to reverse later.
Supervise puppies closely, especially in the first few weeks in a new home; consider placing a bell on your pet's collar so he or she is easier to monitor when not in sight. Puppies should be safely crated when unsupervised, especially in the first few weeks.
Consider for adult dogs
Ask about specifics about the dog you are interested in: does he or she have specific needs or dislikes (fears or thunderstorms/Fireworks, separation anxiety, prone to jumping fences, prone to digging, prone to barking, needs other dogs for entertainment, does not like men/kids/cats, needs medication or special food). Discuss what plans and preparations you should make and learn about training for the dogs specific issues.
Don't try to do everything at once, though; gradually introduce new experiences under controlled circumstances. Remember, lots of quality time is very important during the first weeks that a pet is in a new home, and consistency and routines make things easier for everyone. Adult animals should also be confined to a safe room or crate when unsupervised, particularly during the first few weeks.
Introducing the New Dog
Congratulations on your newly adopted dog! A proper introduction of your new dog to your home, your family and all your furry family members is important and should be done carefully to ensure success.
Start by making sure your dog is not too excited when he enters your home and maybe take him for a little walk to spend some excess energy. Have all supplies set up: bed, water, and toys. Then give him a leash-guided tour of his new home. Take him in the yard to let him sniff and encourage him to use the bathroom. Before you let him or her loose in the house, make sure all doors and windows are securely closed and breakables are stored out of reach. Start on your new routine of exercising, training and feeding so he learns how he is expected to behave.
If you already have a dog, make the introduction slowly and calm and on neutral ground, so your “old” dog won't feel like he needs to defend his territory. Take them on a walk together. Let them play outside in your yard first to ensure no aggression issues – watch body language carefully so you can intervene early if needed. Use a hose or spray bottle to break up dog fights, not your hands!
After you bring the new dog home, don't leave the dogs together unsupervised; use a crate or a transition room to keep dogs separate. You'll want to separate new dogs during feeding time and remove highly desirable toys, treats and beds during the transition period.
If you already have a cat, make sure the cat has room to move away from the dog, if desired. Maybe leave the dog in his crate for a few minutes so the cat can safely check out his new room mate. Do not leave them together unsupervised until you are sure no one will get injured.