How to Prepare for a New Dog in Your Home

So, you’re getting a new dog! Whether you’re rescuing an adult dog or bringing home a puppy, there's a lot you can do to prepare yourself and your home for a smooth transition.

Getting a dog is a big commitment, and there’s plenty to think about as you prepare for the big day, from helpful pet products to training you should start with. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you be ready for your new little friend when the time comes.

Getting Ready for Your New Dog

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Picking a Name

We’ll start with this, because what’s more fun than coming up with the perfect moniker for your new pal? It’s a name you’ll be saying for years to come, so you want to make sure you like it. You may not realize there are dos and don’ts to choosing a name, including ensuring it’s easy to say — and avoids any negative connotations.

Dog Wearing Identification

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Preparing Proper Identification

Once you have the name, it’s important everyone else can find it, too. Your dog should always wear an identification tag with your name and phone number on it, so someone can find you if she gets lost. Of course, tags can fall off, so having a microchip as a backup is vital. It’s a good idea to ask your vet to scan the chip once a year to make sure it's working and call the microchip company to verify that all your contact information is up to date.

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Gathering Supplies

Dogs have lots of essentials, including food (of course!), bowls, a comfy bed, safe toys and a crate. Check out our list of eight must-haves for your new canine companion. 

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Dog Proofing

Before you bring your dog home, help make your place safe for her. Use baby gates to keep her out of areas you don’t want her to be in, hide electrical cords she might chew on and put toxic materials out of her reach. There are many home items you might not realize are harmful, including foods like onions, grapes and sugar-free products containing xylitol, as well as household cleaning products and medications.  

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Crate Training

One way to help keep your dog out of trouble is to train her to go to her crate. While some owners have negative perceptions about crating, the crate can actually be a quiet, familiar oasis for your dog. It’s a great place for her to hang out during potty training, when company comes or to contain her on car rides. Vetstreet training expert Mikkel Becker offers step-by-step advice for crate training.

Puppy peeing in grass potty training

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Housebreaking

Potty training is among the first tasks you and your new dog will work on together. But it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. We have five tips to make it easier on both of you, including limiting the area where your pup can wander, understanding that she’ll need to go frequently, remembering to take her out after she eats or drinks, cleaning up accidents thoroughly, and being patient and consistent.

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Choosing a Collar

There are more choices for a collar than you might imagine, and choosing the right one can be overwhelming. When it comes to fit, you should be able to easily slide two fingers under the collar, Becker says. She explains the differences between flat, martingale and breakaway options in this helpful video.

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Leash Training

Teaching your dog to walk calmly on a leash will make your life easier, and it’ll make you more likely to give your pup the exercise she needs. Some things to remember: Keep calm, consider clicker training and a harness, and don’t react to pulling by yanking your dog yourself, Dr. Ernie Ward writes. And try to avoid retractable leashes, Dr. Patty Khuly writes. They can lead to injuries and mishaps for both dogs and their owners.

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Teeth Cleaning

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is one of the keys to good health. To help avoid periodontal disease and other serious dental problems, get in the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth regularly at home, and visit your vet for regular dental exams and professional cleanings.

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Visiting the Veterinarian

Have a veterinarian lined up before you bring your new dog home — and schedule a visit for an exam within the first few days. This can help detect any health issues, allow you to set up a vaccination and parasite-control schedule, and give you an opportunity to pick up other health care pointers for your little pup, from nutrition and behavior to grooming and exercise. If you need help finding a vet, ask for recommendations from friends, breeders or shelter staff, or local dog walkers and groomers.

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Spaying and Neutering

Fixing your pet is recommended to help prevent certain health and behavioral problems, and to avoid unwanted puppies who contribute to homeless pet populations. If you adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue, there’s a good chance the pup's already been spayed or neutered. But if not, or if you get a dog elsewhere, you should discuss the procedure with your vet.

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Obedience Training

Enrolling your dog in a training class helps promote good manners and can be a bonding experience for the two of you. Consider group classes, or perhaps one-on-one training, to help you and your dog work through a specific issue. The peak learning period is from 3 weeks to 14 weeks, although, of course, she can learn well beyond that age!

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Carpet Cleaning

When you have a new dog, you’ll probably want to have carpet-cleaning supplies at the ready. Our readers have weighed in with their tried-and-true tips for getting pet stains out of carpet, from using a black light to track down the spots to keeping a cleaning kit on each floor of your home. Stock up on appropriate cleaning solutions, rags, paper towels and trash bags.

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Socializing

We’ll leave you with an exciting task! Dogs need to be given proper socialization to help them be confident, relaxed and well adjusted. Take time to expose your dog to new people and situations to help reduce the risk of her being fearful or aggressive if she encounters them later. Just be sure to introduce your pet to the new object, sight or sound in a way that’s calm — and reward her generously, so she associates good things with each new experience.

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