- New Dog Essentials
- Tips for Bringing a New Puppy Home
- Bringing an Adult Dog Home
- Adopting a Senior Dog
- Final Thoughts
Bringing home a new dog is a very exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming for first-time dog owners! If you’ve recently decided to add a new fluffy member to your family, you’ll need to invest in some new dog products and learn techniques to make them feel safe and comfortable in your home.
New Dog Essentials
You’ll need to start preparing before your new dog even comes home. Some things you need to make sure you have ahead of time include:
- A safe place for them to sleep
- A play space
- The appropriate food and treats
- Lots of toys
Below, we’ll discuss recommendations for bringing a new dog home and suggest some of the best new dog products.
Somewhere for Your New Dog to Sleep
When your dog first comes home, they’ll probably be a bit uncomfortable in their new environment. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure they have a “safe space” from the second they arrive.
According to Dr. Katy J. Nelson, DVM, puppies usually take well to dog crates because they’re traditionally “den animals.” Since they’re likely to be a bit nervous when they first come home, having a safe spot to sit and snuggle is crucial.
A dog crate is very useful when you’re not at home with your new dog. Barbara Davis, CPDT-KA notes that “puppies need places where they can safely be confined until they learn their house manners.” As long as you never use the crate as a punishment, your new dog should feel very secure and comfortable in their crate while you’re not around.
Your puppy’s crate doesn’t need to be huge, and ideally, should only be big enough for them to stand up and turn around in. Too big of a crate will not feel as secure for them, and too small of a crate will be uncomfortable and claustrophobic. An adjustable crate is ideal, because it will last your dog’s entire lifetime. If this interests you, try Frisco’s Fold & Carry Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate! It comes in six different sizes to accommodate dogs of all sizes.
Dog Collars and Leashes
Picking out your new dog’s first collar can be very exciting! You can choose any color and style you’d like, but most experts recommend choosing an adjustable collar. Puppies grow very fast, and you don’t want to have to keep buying new collars! Look at the recommendations based on your dog’s breed/weight to decide what size is most appropriate. According to the American Kennel Club, your dog’s collar should be tight enough to not slip over their head, but loose enough that you can put two fingers underneath without difficulty.
Next, you’ll need to choose a leash for your new dog. Make sure to choose one that’s appropriate for your dog’s size and strength. While nylon leashes are often okay, bigger dogs sometimes like to pull on the leash. In this case, a rope leash is perfect until you train them not to do so! Mendota makes a great ½” thick rope dog leash that’s recommended for dogs anywhere from 50 – 250 lbs, and comes in your choice of either 4 ft. or 6 ft. long.
You may also have a chewer who can’t be trusted around a soft leash! In that case, a chain leash, like the OmniPet Chain Dog Leash, would work well. It includes a sleek leather handle in your choice of black or brown and comes in three different sizes: lightweight, medium weight, and heavyweight.
If you’ve ever had a dog run off before, you know just how important it is for them to have ID tags! These tags should be attached directly to your dog’s new collar and have all your important contact information, should your dog ever go missing. Information to have on your pet’s ID tags includes:
- Their name
- Your name
- Your phone number
- Your address
If your pet has any special medical needs, you’ll also want to include this information on their tag so that whoever finds them can take appropriate action.
Dog Food & Dog Treats
According to Davis, “dog nutrition is at least as complex as human nutrition.” This is especially true for puppies whose bodies and brains are still developing. Ask your vet for specific recommendations whenever you take your new dog in for their first check-up, but until then, Davis recommends buying the highest-quality dog food you’re able to.
Some dogs have a sensitivity to certain grains in traditional kibble, so many owners opt for a grain-free diet. If your dog has shown any signs of a sensitive stomach, or if you haven’t taken them for their first vet appointment yet, consider starting with grain-free dog food. Some popular grain-free puppy foods include ACANA Puppy & Junior Formula and Castor & Pollux Pristine Wild Caught Salmon & Sweet Potato. If you’re looking for grain-free adult dog food, consider American Journey’s grain-free recipe!
You’ll also want to make sure you have a couple of healthy, tasty dog treats on hand for your furry friend’s arrival. Puppies will need to have softer treats than adult dogs, because they may still be teething and their mouths are not as strong. Wellness Soft Puppy Bites are a grain-free treat, specifically formulated for dogs under one year old.
If your puppy has started chewing on everything you own, they may have begun teething! Teething can be frustrating for owners, so opting for puppy teething rings can be beneficial. If you’re looking for puppy teething rings, N-Bone makes a highly-rated blueberry and BBQ-flavored option.
If you’re adopting an adult dog, you’ll want to have some adult dog treats on hand. Greenies can help with dental hygiene and are great for any dog with especially stinky breath, and Milkbones have been loved by dogs for decades! If your new dog has a sensitive stomach or certain food allergies, American Journey Training Bits are a great grain-free option.
Food & Water Bowls
After you’ve chosen a dog food, you’ll need to pick up something for your dog to eat out of. Stainless steel and ceramic bowls are typically dishwasher-safe to minimize clean-up time, and non-slip silicone bowls are great for messy eaters!
If you’re adopting a larger breed, some vets recommend elevated food bowls to make eating more comfortable. Frisco Elevated Dog Diner includes two stainless steel bowls and includes a rim around each to prevent food or water from spilling onto the floor, and even features non-slip rubber feet.
A Play Area
If left unattended, an energetic puppy can make a mess of your home! For this reason, experts recommend a puppy playpen where they can run around and play safely. MyPet’s 8-Panel Petyard Passage features a lockable doggy door and gives your dog 34 sq. ft. of space to play around, and is perfect for containing dogs up to 19” tall.
If setting up a gated area would be more appropriate in your home, the Regalo Double Door Super Wide Gate & Dog Playpen might work for you! This model can be set up as either a playpen or a gate, and can fit openings up to 192” long. It’s also 28” tall, meaning it should contain all but the highest-jumping of dogs.
Lots of Dog Toys
Having dog toys around when your dog arrives can make the adjustment to a new home easier, and chew toys will prevent puppies from chewing on other items in your home! While squeaky plush toys are good for cuddling, chew toys are great for mental stimulation.
One popular chew toy is the KONG, which comes in a variety of colors and sizes. They even have a puppy size that’s perfect for teething! You can fill the inside of KONG toys with peanut butter or their favorite dog treats, and they’ll have to work to get it out. The prospect of a reward is sure to keep any dog busy for quite a while!
Tips for Bringing a New Puppy Home
Most puppies are brought to their new homes at around eight weeks old, meaning their tiny bodies and brains are still developing. They’ll need to eat and go to the bathroom more often than adult dogs, and teething is another factor to consider. Here are some things to keep in mind when bringing your puppy home.
How You Raise Puppies Affects Them Later On
Although some breeders will disregard this rule, you should never bring a puppy home until they are at least eight weeks old. If you separate a young puppy from their mother too early on, it can negatively affect their emotional and social development.
Like humans, the developmental stage of a dog’s life is directly linked to how they behave as adult dogs. Because of this, it’s important to train, socialize, and establish a routine with your puppy early on.
You should begin training, housebreaking, and socialization relatively soon after they come home. You don’t want to overdo it or be rough, because you could overwhelm or frighten them. It’s important to be gentle while still ensuring you give them the skills they need to become a well-adjusted dog.
Your Puppy Will Need Peace At First
The best time to get a new puppy is when you’ll be able to dedicate most of your time to getting them acclimated. Make sure things are relatively quiet at home, because it can be scary and uncomfortable to be in a new place with a lot going on. As soon as you bring your new puppy home, some experts recommend going for a short walk to let them settle down a bit, explore their new neighborhood, and begin the bonding process. Then, you can bring the puppy inside!
If you have other pets, put them in another area of your home until your new puppy gets settled. Always bring them inside your home in their carrier, open the door, and let them come out when they’re ready. If they’re especially shy, you might want to leave the room for a few minutes so they’re more comfortable. A new environment with new sounds and smells is often overwhelming for a new puppy, so it’s important to do everything you can to make the transition easier.
Let Them Meet Your Other Pets Slowly
If you have other pets, especially other dogs, it’s important to introduce them gently and under your supervision. If your puppy has ventured out of their carrier, bring the carrier around your other pets before bringing the puppy in so they can get used to their scent.
Only let them meet under direct supervision, and consider holding the puppy while your other dogs get to know them. If there are any signs of conflict, separate them and try again a little later. You should, however, leave the carrier with your other pets so they can get more used to having another dog around! Some pets may get jealous if they notice you spending all your free time with the new puppy, so it’s essential to spend a good amount of quality time with all the animals in your household during this time.
Establish and Stick to a Daily Routine
Establishing a daily routine with your new puppy will help them adjust to their new home. For example, you may start the day with breakfast and a walk. Then, you’ll come back for a bit of play until it’s time to go outside again. Whatever routine you establish, remember to incorporate lots of bathroom breaks and enough meals to ensure your puppy’s comfort.
Puppies Need to Eat More Often
According to Alana Stevenson, an animal behavior specialist and certified dog trainer in Boston, MA, puppies need to eat at least three meals per day to help them grow. They should start out with puppy food, and you can make the switch to adult dog food when they are between eight months and one year old.
Your Puppy Needs Their Vaccines
By the time you take your puppy home from the shelter or breeder, they may already have gotten a couple of their vaccines. Make sure you ask whoever you’re adopting the puppy from for their vaccine records, and bring this with you when you visit the vet for the first time. The vet will be able to tell you what other vaccines your puppy is ready for.
Socialization is Key
To ensure your dog grows up with good social skills, make sure to introduce them to a lot of dogs and people when they’re still puppies! The repeated exposure to others will encourage them to be friendly and good playmates as they grow older.
Make sure your puppy is supervised when meeting other dogs for the first time, and take them out of the situation if they become frightened or overwhelmed. Over time, they’ll become more comfortable around others.
Start Training as Soon as Possible
According to Davis, puppies need a constant stream of mental stimulation to stay occupied. They love learning new things and having new experiences, which makes them incredibly easy to train! It’s important to be patient, however, because puppies’ bodies and brains are still developing. Use a lot of positive reinforcement and rewards when training your puppy, and remember not to overwhelm them with too much at once.
Housetraining is one of the most important things to focus on here. Puppies don’t have the same bladder control abilities as adult dogs, so they’ll need to be taken outside every hour or two so that they learn the outdoors = bathroom. If you have a designated play area for your puppy, invest in some puppy pads to minimize accidents on your floor or carpet.
Bringing an Adult Dog Home
You might be adopting a new adult rescue dog from a shelter. Rescue dogs can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to help them get comfortable and settled into their new home. You may not have a lot of information on the new dog, so to be safe, treat them as you would treat a puppy.
Training an Adult Dog
According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, adult dogs tend to pick up on house rules and training pretty quickly, as long as you’re consistent and kind about it. However, if they’re not already housetrained, they might have a difficult time picking up on this. Here are some tips to make housetraining easier:
- Clean up any accidents quickly and properly, as lingering odors will encourage your new dog to go in the same spot again. Consider investing in an odor-removing cleaning spray to completely eliminate the smell.
- Take them outside often. Wait a few minutes to give them time to go. If a few minutes pass and your dog still hasn’t gone, go back inside, put them in a confinement area for about 10 minutes, then go back outside and try again. Repeat the process until they go to the bathroom!
- Stay outside for a while after your dog goes. They’ll probably enjoy the outdoor time, and may think that going to the bathroom = the end of playtime!
- Track your dog’s bathroom patterns, and stick to a schedule. Take them outside when they’re most likely to have to go.
Adopting a Senior Dog
Adopting a senior dog can be a difficult but rewarding process. Older dogs have unique health needs, and you need to be prepared to deal with them. Here are some of the things to consider if you’re adopting a senior rescue dog.
Senior Dogs Need More Accommodations
It’s not uncommon for senior dogs to lose their footing every once in a while. If you have hardwood floors, consider putting down some area rugs or rubber pads to give them more traction as they walk. Similarly, they might have trouble getting on and off the furniture, in and out of the car, or up and down the porch steps. In this case, you might want to pick up a folding ramp to make things a bit more accessible.
Senior Dogs Have Special Health Needs
Senior dogs may experience health problems, including osteoporosis and canine cognitive dysfunction, or “doggy dementia.” Because they can experience such a wide variety of health issues, it’s important to watch for signs of declining health. These include:
- Cloudiness in the eyes
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Loss of hearing
- Changes in the fur
- Gum inflammation
- A limp
You should also make sure to keep an eye out for any signs of a decline in cognitive function, such as:
- Staring at walls
- Loss of potty training skills
- Not responding to their name
- Unexplained barking or howling
- Changes in their sleeping patterns
- Anxiety, confusion, or aggression
If you notice any of the above signs, a trip to the vet is in order. To keep your dog’s cognitive health in check, consider switching to a food specifically formulated to promote senior dogs’ brain health like Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind.
Senior Dogs Need Exercise
Even though they may not be able to move around like they used to, it’s still important for senior dogs to get a good amount of exercise! Exercise has many benefits for older dogs, including:
- Increased sense of wellbeing
- Relief from stiff joint pain
- Maintaining muscle mass
- Increased mental clarity
Just because your dog is older doesn’t mean they’re not young at heart! With regular exercise and proper nutrition, your senior dog can have a long, happy life.
Bringing a new dog home is a very exciting experience. While preparing your home for their arrival, make sure to invest in high-quality new dog products and keep some of the above tips in mind.