Bringing home a dog is an exciting time for the whole family, but they will likely be confused and nervous when they arrive. It is important that you are completely prepared for their arrival to ensure a smooth transition from their old life to their new home life. We have outlined 10 steps you can take when bringing home a new dog, including what to do in preparation for their arrival, what to do on the big day, and what to do in the following weeks:
Find the dog that’s right for you
If you are looking to bring a new dog into your family, you will begin the process by narrowing down what you are looking for. You should consider which breeds would best suit your lifestyle – if you have small children, it’s important to find family-friendly breeds. There are several factors to consider when determining which breed is right for you, such as family makeup, activity level, and home size.
It would be best if you also considered what age dog you would prefer to adopt. Puppies are adorable and can be a great experience, but they require a lot of time, patience, and training. An adult dog might already be trained appropriately, and you will not have to go through the crying and chewing stages with them. Additionally, seniors dogs are a great option to consider – there are so many sweet, older dogs in need of homes looking for a new human to love and spend the rest of their days with.
Find a rescue to adopt your dog from
Once you have an idea of what kind of dog you are looking for, the next step is choosing the dog itself! We suggest you have a look at your local pet rescues; in the Seattle area, we have a number of reputable pet rescues, such as Old Dog Haven (a rescue that focuses on rehoming senior dogs), Ginger’s Pet Rescue (a rescue that saves dogs that otherwise would have been euthanized), and Seattle Humane (a rescue devoted to animal adoption, education, and welfare). They are all not-for-profit organizations whose primary goal is to find suitable and loving homes for as many abandoned pets as possible.
We wholeheartedly suggest rescuing a dog rather than purchasing one from a breeder because rescuing means you will be saving a life. Other great reasons to rescue are that there will be different dogs past the puppy stage, and often rescue dogs already have basic training skills. You will be supporting rescue organizations so that they can continue to do good work. Reputable rescues will work hard to ensure that you are, and the pup you’re interested in adopting is a good fit.
Set the rules and roles
Before you bring your new fur kid home, you should determine what everyday life would look like. You should decide beforehand who will be handling the training (if necessary), feedings, daily dog walks, etc. Having a dog in the house is exciting but is also a big responsibility so everyone involved should be clear on their duties. Additionally, you should set the rules that the dog will have to follow – Are there specific areas of the house that are off-limits? Are they going to be allowed on the couch or the bed? These rules should be established ahead of time so that they can be put into practice as soon as they walk through the door..
Make sure you have all the supplies
Ensure that you have all the supplies you will need for when you bring your fur kid home. Make sure that you have the basics like a collar (with an ID and address tag), a leash, food and water dishes, and poo-bags. You should stock up on food and different kinds of treats, especially if you will be doing some training – getting high-value treats during the training process is key!! Make sure to have the extras such as their bed, a crate (if you are planning on starting or continuing crate training), some toys, a long leash for your backyard if applicable, nail clippers, and a brush to groom them and baby gates if necessary. ry.
Bringing the Dog Home
Introduce the family, home and neighborhood (cat+dog blog), dog’s bedroom and feeding area
When first home, give the new family member a tour of (where they are allowed to go in) the house and yard, show them where their bed, food, and water are located and introduce them slowly to all members of your family. You should also take your pup on a long walk around the neighborhood if they are already leash trained. This will give them time to relax and get to know the area. Additionally, if you have any other pets, even if you don’t introduce them to each other right away, make sure that you don’t ignore them so that they don’t feel jealous or resentful of your new dog.
License your dog
Depending on where you live, it may or may not be required by law for you to register your dog with the city. Here in Seattle, if you have a pet, you must license it with the city. You can do so by going to Seattle’s website and selecting “Buy a new license.” A dog’s license can cost between $37 and $210 depending on whether or not your dog has been spayed or neutered. If you don’t register the dog with your city, you could receive a fine from the city.
Plan a veterinary check-up
It is good to plan a veterinary visit in the first few weeks that the dog is with you. This will establish who your vet will be and introduce your dog to them, but it’s also so that you can confirm that there is nothing wrong with your dog and that they are generally in good health. While rescues do their best to ensure that their dogs are healthy, it’s smart to start your fur kid’s life with you on the right foot.
The new life with your fur kid:
Start training (house – blog, crate, socialization, etc.)
If you are in charge of the dog training, you should devise a plan before your pup comes home. You will get a basic idea of their temperament and what they will need to work on from the rescue facility. If you are getting a puppy, you might have some housetraining work ahead of you. We share some tips on how to housetrain your puppy here! You might want to crate train your dog as it helps with insecurity, housetraining, and avoiding mischief. Socialization is another must when it comes to training your dog. TThey will come into contact with lots of people, other animals, and strange sights and sounds throughout their life, so they should be properly prepared for these situations. Leash training is also a fundamental skill you should teach your pup if it’s not something they have already mastered.
If you feel like all this training is a bit overwhelming or have specific areas you would like to focus on, it never hurts to call in the professionals! Professional dog trainers will be able to assess your dog’s needs and focus on their problem areas to have a well trained and adjusted family pet.
Prepare for the future
If you are currently working from home or unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are bringing your dog home during this time, it’s wonderful that you will be home, and might have some extra free time, for your dog! However, it is important to prepare for the future when you might not be home with them every day. Dogs of any age will get attached to your presence, so if you aren’t home all day in the future, you can start preparing your dog for this likelihood right away. You can do so by leaving home for a little bit every day or leaving your dog alone in a separate room for a little while so that they get used to being alone in the home. This will help prevent your dog from dealing with separation anxiety when the time comes.
Spend fun/bonding time with your dog
Finally, make sure that you spend time just having fun with your new family member. Not only will you both enjoy this time, but also it will help you solidify your bond and help them feel comfortable with their new family. Try different activities to see what your pup enjoys doing – they might prefer just sitting together and getting petted and scratched, playing fetch, or a bit of both! The goal is to have some time for only the two of you to enjoy each other.