Welcoming your dog home
Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival.
Before your new dog comes home
As soon as they bound through your front door you’ll forget all about admin, so be prepared before your new dog or puppy arrives. There are a few things that can be taken care of before their arrival, so you can focus fully on them in their first few days at home:
- When getting a dog, it’s a good idea to ask around to find the best local vet practice, and register them straight away (if you’re not already). It’s better to be on their books as soon as possible in case your dog’s becomes unwell, requires further vaccinations or needs to be neutered.
- While you’re there, ask about insurance policies that will cover any unexpected veterinary costs.
- It’s important for your new dog that they’re socialised with other dogs as well as humans. Your vet will know about puppy classes for youngsters, and the practice may even run their own. Puppy classes are great fun and the dogs and owners often make friends for life. Do check beforehand that they only use praise and reward-based training, and don’t use punishing methods such as military style drilling or choke chains. If you’re rehoming an adult dog, the rescue centre may also be able to recommend a professional trainer if you need any help - or you can find your own dog trainer near you at www.apdt.co.uk
- You’re legally required to put an identification tag on your dog’s collar and this must be worn whenever they’re in a public place. As well as their tag, they’ll also need to be micro chipped – a painless process that takes seconds for your vet to perform. This is already compulsory in Northern Ireland and, from spring 2016, it will be mandatory in England, Scotland and Wales, so it’s best to get this done as early as possible.
With the admin out of the way, it’s time to put together a new dog or puppy checklist and go shopping. This can be great fun and it will take lots of willpower to stop you buying the whole shop! Although it can be tempting to buy lots of new things for your new dog, you should look at the following items first:
- Two bowls – one for food and one for water. These can be ceramic or stainless steel, as long as they can be properly cleaned.
- A nylon or leather lead and collar. To help to train your dog to walk on the lead, and not to pull, you might want to get a gentle leader head collar. These make training easier and stop bigger pups from pulling you off your feet!
- Grooming equipment.
- Some safe, fun, stimulating toys.
- A bed. There’s a huge choice of beds available so find one that’s right for your dog’s size and temperament – some are more destructible than others! Whichever type you choose, put it somewhere warm and quiet where there are no draughts.
- An indoor metal mesh kennel or crate. Puppies in particular often like the security of a crate to make into their own secure den. If you drape a blanket over it and put their bed inside, it becomes their safe place where they can hide and rest when they need some peace and quiet. Crates also help to speed up the process of house training as pups won’t want to soil their special place.
- Food. Check what type of food your puppy has been given by the breeder or rescue centre and continue with that same diet for at least a week. You can swap their food, gradually over a period of time later if you like, or if there are health reasons for doing so.
Once they’re home
The day has finally arrived! Everyone in the house is sure to be bursting with excitement and desperate to have a play with the newest member of the family. Just make sure you give your new furry friend a little bit of time to get their bearings, and they’ll soon settle in.
There are a few more things you need to do now your new dog is home:
- Make sure that you can dedicate time to your new arrival to allow them time to acclimatise to their new surroundings, and to establish an everyday routine. Working from home or booking a few days of holidays will allow you to spend important quality time with your new pet.
- Choose their name. One of the many fun things about getting a new dog is naming them as a family. Once you’ve found one you love, start using it as soon as possible and every time you interact with them. They’ll soon recognise it and learn to come to you when you call!
- Agree a list of house rules. It’s important that each member of the family is consistent – for example, it will confuse them if they are allowed on furniture by one member of the family but not another. It’s very easy for new pups to develop very cheeky habits if left unchecked, so if you let them beg at the table once, expect to be pestered at every mealtime! There are also some rules to establish for the human members of the family. If you know you’ve got a chewy puppy for example, you’re asking for trouble if you leave an expensive pair of trainers or a mobile phone within their reach.
- Keep calm. It’s so easy to shower the new dog with affection, particularly for the younger members of the family. While the new pup is getting used to their surroundings, always supervise excited children and give the dog some much-needed time out.
- Spend quality time with your new pup. If you take time off work to settle your new pup in, make sure that they’re left home alone for short but steadily increasing periods of time throughout the first week. You don’t want your return to work to come as a shock, nor do you want to return to chewed furniture thanks to an anxious, panicky pet.
- If you’re rescuing a dog from a rehoming shelter, speak to the staff there to get an idea of any preferences that your new pet may have. There may be something you can do or give to your pet to help them settle in more quickly.
- Remember that your pet might be a little overwhelmed by all of the excitement and changes that they are experiencing, so they may seem a little withdrawn initially. They should soon settle into being another member of the family, but contact your vet if you notice that they continue to act withdrawn.
Your puppy’s breeder and your veterinary practice will be pleased to give you further help and advice about looking after your new dog or puppy, their health and settling him in. All you’ll have to do now is enjoy getting to know him and playing, training, having fun and watching him grow up to be your best friend!