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.
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
and don’ts to choosing a name, including ensuring it’s easy to say — and
avoids any negative connotations.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Vetstreet.com delivers advice from veterinarians, trainers and pet experts who are dedicated to giving you the most trusted, authoritative information for keeping pets healthy and happy. Our Find A Vet service connects you with leading veterinarians in your area. Launched in 2011, Vetstreet.com features veterinarian-reviewed medical advice and has quickly become one of the top animal health and lifestyle sites on the web. See more.