Bringing home a new dog for the first time is a huge milestone. Whether you’re getting a puppy to shape and mold into your perfect family dog, or you’re adopting an older dog who needs a loving home, bringing your tail-wagger home is one of the most exciting things you’ll experience! That first day, however, is crucial. Your new dog will most likely be both nervous and excitable, and you’ll want to make sure he’s as comfortable as can be.
There is a lot to do to prepare to bring your pup home for the first time! Here is a comprehensive list of all the things to do leading up to the big day:
Before Your Dog’s Homecoming
1. Prepare everyone in the house for their new responsibilities.
It’s important to discuss who is responsible for the new dog or puppy before he comes. The dog will not only need someone to take him outside on walks, feed him, and play with him, but he will also need love and acceptance from all members of the household. Make sure everyone is onboard before you make this huge transition!
2. Buy all of the things!
This is the fun part in the preparation. Head over to your local pet store and get all of the things that your pup might need: food, bowls, leash and collar, treats, toys, a bed, and anything else that suits your dog’s needs. Check in with the shelter or breeder to find out which food the dog has been eating, so the transition isn’t hard on his tummy. Remember, you can always switch over the dog’s diet later on, in a more graceful way when he is well-adjusted to his new whereabouts. Bonus points if you head over to BarkShop for some goodies!
3. Get a new veterinarian for your pup.
Find a vet that lives close by that you will start bringing your pup to for annual check-ups, vaccines, etc. It’s also a good idea to locate the closest 24 hour emergency animal hospital and write that number down on the fridge or somewhere else that everyone in the house can find if they need it!
4. Try to gather as many of your dog’s papers as possible.
If you’re adopting your dog from a shelter, this can be tricky but try to get as many vet records as possible for your pup. Find out exactly which shots he’s already gotten and which ones he still may need. Try to figure out the last time he got flea or heartworm treatment, if possible.
5. Puppy-proof your house.
Every dog will react differently to their new surroundings, but there are a few things you should make sure you do to prepare your house and make it safest for the fuzzbutt’s arrival. For me, it was making sure none of my roach traps were at all accessible to my dog (I live in NYC – it’s only precautionary!) Move other chemicals onto high shelves, tape electrical chords to baseboards, and make sure anything that your dog can choke on is stored high enough that they can’t reach it, even on their hind legs.
Bringing Your New Dog Home
1. Make sure your dog is comfortable and has time to acclimate.
It’s really great to plan on bringing your dog home at the beginning of a weekend, or on a day when you can devote the whole day, if not a few days to helping ’em get used to his new home. When you drive your pup home, make sure he is safely secured in a doggy seatbelt or crate. For puppies this is especially important, since they may have never really rode in a car before. When you get home, let your pup sniff all the corners of his new surroundings.
2. Show your pooch where their potty place is.
Almost immediately when you get home, take your pup out to wherever he will be typically going to the bathroom. If you have a yard, let him sniff around and get comfortable going out there. If you are a city type and don’t have a yard, allow him to sniff around the nearby trees and give him time to go to the bathroom for the first time. This will put the idea in his head right away that that is his potty place. And remember, positive reinforcement is key! When he goes to the bathroom outside for the first time, make sure to praise him!
3. Balance lots of love with some space.
The worst thing you can do to a new pup is overwhelm them. Don’t ignore, but balance lots of cuddles and pats with space. If there are small children in the house, remind them to be gentle and slow with the dog at first. Don’t worry – playtime will come soon after!
The First Week With the Pup
1. Keep an eye on your pup’s habits and tendencies.
I found out within the first two days of having my pup that she absolutely loved pulling tissues out of small waste baskets and rip them apart. I learned this fast so I could reprimand her when appropriate, and also consider a new location for these temptations. Keep an eye on ’em and see if he is particularly interested in causing trouble in any one part of the house. This will help you to create a plan for when you aren’t home as to where to keep the dog so he is both safe and comfortable.
2. Get all the paperwork squared away.
The first week is the time to get all the logistical stuff signed, sealed, and filed away. Take your pup to meet his vet and get an initial checkup. If he isn’t microchipped yet, get that done early on so you have extra safety measures if he was to ever get away. If your pup is adopted and has a chip already, make sure it gets registered with your information. Also make sure you get your pup licensed. You can either discuss this with your vet or go to your state’s government website and check out their process.
3. Enjoy the best life ever with your new best friend!