A while back one of my colleagues had a posting here titled Get A Dog. It focuses on deciding when to add a new dog to your family. That, along with a number of recent questions I’ve received from new puppy parents, prompted me to think about what should happen between the time you decide to get a dog and the time you bring your new furry friend home. There is a lot to think about and plan for. Some common ones are:
- Dog-proof your house – make it a safe place for your new family member.
- Investigate some of the services you’ll need – vet, boarding/walking, grooming.
- Get equipped – food bowls, food, crate, toys, treats.
But beyond those basics, however, here are some other important things to do before your dog comes home:
- Have a plan for introductions. The initial meeting between your new dog and your kids, the kids’ friends, the household cat, your other dog, extended family and neighbors – can help set the stage for long-term success. When not handled properly, you can end up with ongoing issues.
- Agree on house rules. This means everyone in the house agrees about whether the dog will be allowed on the furniture, the dog’s schedule (for sleeping, playing and walks), and who’s responsible for care and feeding.
- Decide where you want your dog to “do his business.” Outside, of course, is the obvious choice. But you can also train your dog to go in a certain area of the yard – which can make it easier on whoever is responsible for clean up!
- Choose a trainer. I’m not just including this one because I happen to be a dog trainer. I’m including this because I firmly believe that one of the biggest benefits of training is that it helps to build the bond between you and your dog – and what better time to start than on day one?
Finally, even with all the pre-planning, you should still expect the unexpected. The puppy that seemed perfect when you picked him out…or the rescue that was so adorable at the shelter…may soon show behavioral traits that you weren’t quite prepared for. That’s all the more reason to do as much planning as possible to lay a good foundation from the start. Then you’ll be better prepared to deal with the unexpected.