Expanding your home by four paws is an exciting time! Although some needs will vary based on the dog’s age and size here are the basics for preparing your home for arrival.
· Dog proof your yard:
o Check the plants in your yard that your dog will have access to against the ASPCA list. If you have any the options are to block access, remove, or relocate the plant.
o Check your fence line and close any holes in the fence, secure loose boards, and fill any ground holes near the fence that might encourage digging.
o Check the locks on all your gates to make sure they close completely and tightly. If they flip up to open you might need to add a clip with larger dogs.
· Dog proof your house:
o Even if you already have a dog who knows not to take anything off the coffee table your new arrival will need time to learn the rules. So walk around and anything new dog height that needs to be protected should be moved higher…and don’t forget the shoes by the door!
o Consider your lower cabinets. There are a lot of cleaning products and even cosmetics that can be harmful to pets. Although I have never had a dog that could open a cabinet I do have cats who are known for getting into cabinets and leaving the door open (rude, I know).
· Make a veterinarian appointment: Even if your new arrival is all caught up on shots and you have flea and heartworm meds it is a good idea to make an office visit with the veterinarian. This way they can have all the pet’s information in the system, the vet can give a wellness check and a health baseline established.
· Have a home/family meeting. Consistency is the foundation of successful dog training and everyone should be on the same page.
o Training will vary based on the dog’s personality, motivation, and environment so you should not expect to have a set training program at this stage. However, you can discuss the commands you want your dog to learn and what word(s) you will use for the command. My biggest example is I teach the command “down” and expect Daisy to lay down, which she does, and the command “off” when she is to stop jumping up on someone or get off of what she is on. I find that my boyfriend and his daughter have a tendency to say “down” when they really mean “off” and praise her when she is on all fours and not laying down; Daisy is often confused by this.
o Establish home boundaries: will the dog have free range of the house or only allowed in some rooms? Allowed on all furniture, or just some?
o What will the sleeping arrangements be; at least to start? Dog bed, your bed, mat, crate, etc. the options are endless. Knowing ahead of time will help with training but you can always adjust later. For instance both of my dogs slept in crates while being potty trained but now Daisy prefers either her dog bed in the living room or in our bed, and Colleen prefers a towel or blanket in her crate by our bed.
· Find out your dog’s current food
· Dog food. If you plan to change your dog’s current food then ask the previous owner, shelter, or breeder for a day or two worth of food to help the transition. Otherwise your new pup could have GI upset. Diarrhea can impact potty training.
· Food dish
· Water bowl. I find it helpful to have more than one. I have one in the kitchen where they eat, I have one in the bedroom where they sleep and one outside. The one outside is so they do not want to come in only to drink and then want right back out.
· Toys safe for your dog’s size. See Daisy’s toy sizing guide to help.
· Grooming supplies. Brush, comb, shampoo, conditioner, towels, nail clippers, scissors, and wipes as necessary for your dog’s type of coat.
· Properly fitted collar
· Four to six foot long leash. For Daisy I have a 6 foot adjustable leash that adjusts like a dog collar that I shorten if we are going to be in a crowded area. I do not recommend retractable leashes, sometimes referred to as a training leash, these can be dangerous not only for dogs but humans too. For dogs an unexpected change in leash length or forgetting they are even on a leash can cause neck injury. For humans these types of leashes can tangle easily, get wrapped around body parts and cause rope burn. I have a scar on the back of my knees from another dog owner using this type of leash while I was at a public park and I did not even have a dog with me at the time!
· Potty Supplies. Such as poop bags. If potty training carpet cleaner for accidents.
· Crate. Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around easily without a lot of extra room if potty training. Once they are potty trained you can opt for a larger crate if desired. I use the crates with the divider to adjust for dog size and this was especially helpful as Daisy grew since it did not require additional purchases.
· Dog bed and/or blanket.
· Patience. Expect to need lots of patience with training, setting boundaries, and getting to know each other. Give your expanded pack the patience it needs to become a well-oiled machine.