This might be your first time around this particular ride or maybe you’ve been a pet parent before. Whether you’re an old hand or a first-time owner, and whether it’s a puppy you’re welcoming or an older dog, you can’t accept them lightly. There’s a lot of responsibility and care that goes into being a mom or dad to a dog. Here, we’re going to make sure you’re putting your best paw forward and that you’re ready for the new family member.
Get the environment ready
If you’ve decided on the dog you want, then you have to make sure that the home is ready for them as soon as they set paw in it. For one, the whole home needs a top-to-bottom clean, with any small objects located as far from the new dog’s reach as possible. If you have an outdoor area where you want them to spend time, then make you’ve trimmed any grass, got rid of any weeds like dandelions and ensured there are no gaps in the fence or gate that they might worm or dig their way out of. If they’re a puppy, then you need to puppy proof the place they’ll be spending more of their time. Perhaps the most important part of that is making sure that no wires are accessible. New puppies are notorious chewers.
Know your breed’s needs
You have to get a bit more specific when it comes to making sure the home is right for the breed of dog, too. They don’t all behave the same and they don’t all have the same wants and needs. There are guides that can help you spruce up on individual breeds. For instance, Top Dog Supplies shows that German Shepherds need different kinds of food than, say, a West Highland Terrier might need. Similarly, they will need more outdoor space as well as mental exercise such as training than other dogs. You should suit the breed you choose to the needs you and the home environment can fulfill.
Puppy love is a glorious thing but there’s certainly a chance you might find it hard to summon up at first. If you have a new puppy, then be prepared for some of the messy, annoying, and downright exhausting parts of a puppy’s life. Making sure you have plenty of pee pads (or whatever potty training method you use) is essential. But that’s not all. For one, many dog owners are surprised by just how liable pups are to chew everything they can find, so leaving them alone with any kind of furniture you value might be a bad idea. A lot of young dogs also experience a serious high in the early evening, where they tend to get playful and excited to a hyper degree. Expect to see your dog running circles around you. It’s not just pups either. Even older dogs, when introduced to a new environment, revert back to bad habits of doing their toilet business indoors. If you’re the kind of person who is likely to get unreasonably angry over that, you should think twice about getting a dog. They get out of the habit soon enough, after all.
Know your role
It’s not all about the dog, either. It’s about the family, as well. House rules like those named at Pet Care RX need to be set. They can’t be inconsistent, either. The whole family has to agree to them. They can’t be allowed on the couch by one person then pushed off by the next. Similarly, commands like ‘down’ need to mean the same thing from every person. Otherwise, your dog will find it hard to learn any commands or rules at all. Similarly, everyone needs to commit to their roles of raising a dog if you’re doing it as a team. Who’s in charge of walking them? Feeding them? Washing and grooming them?
Find the time
It doesn’t matter how many duties you take on personally. You have to be able to find time for your dog. If you and others in your family have too rigid a lifestyle or you’re simply something of a noncommittal person, it won’t work out. Taking them for walks and to see the doctor are practical needs. But dogs also have social and emotional needs that they rely on their family for. You have to be able to spend time playing with them, petting them, and simply treating them as part of the pack.
Make them feel at home
Part of said emotional needs is the need to feel at home. New dogs will always have trouble moving into a new house. You may very well be in for a few hours of troubled sleep thanks to their crying. But it’s up to you to help them acclimate. They will naturally choose to sleep in a comfy dog bed, but you can make them get used to it and to you by leaving an old piece of clothing you don’t need with them as they sleep.
Owning a dog is a responsibility and you won’t be able to take care of it without getting thoroughly organized. It’s not just about setting aside their time but it’s also about keeping their records. If they’re pedigree, you might want a record to prove that in future, for a start. Especially if you plan on letting them breed. Your proof of ownership should also be kept safe. But the most important records are the medical ones. Proof of rabies vaccination and their latest record of general vaccinations are important evidence that they’ve received the treatments you’re legally required to provide. They also make sure there are no dangerous medication mix-ups in future.
It can difficult welcoming a new dog and you should only do it if you’re sure you can stick it out. If you can, however, it’s infinitely rewarding. You’ll get to know all their little quirks and start seeing the personality you can’t help but love even when they’re being a total brat.