Adopting a dog: A planning guide

Bringing a dog into your life can be a fun and rewarding experience for you, your family and your new canine friend. But it does take some adjustment. Advance planning can help smooth the transition for everyone and maybe even spare a few of your shoes from certain doggie doom.

Planning for a pooch

Dog supplies shopping list

  • A leash, dog collar and ID tag*
  • A dog crate to house your dog outside or to provide a dog “cave” inside your house*
  • Dog gates for confining your dog to one part of the house (typically the kitchen, which tends to have easy-to-clean floors)
  • Puppy pads (if you bring home a puppy or a dog that is not totally house-broken)
  • A dog carrier for trips to the veterinarian
  • A dog bed, which will give your dog one less reason to sit on your furniture
  • A dog food bowl and water bowl (non-tippable and easy-to-clean versions)
  • Dog food (Remember, puppies need food formulated for their special needs.)
  • Dog treats for rewarding good behavior
  • A variety of dog toys for “approved” chewing, which will help protect your belongings
  • A brush or hand mitt for dog grooming 

*Bring these items with you when you pick up your dog to take him home for the first time. 

Housing dogs inside and outside

Dogs are social creatures that love to be around people. But, like most of their human pals, dogs need time and space to themselves too. A dog crate and doghouse make ideal solutions.

Indoors. A crate makes a dog feel like he has his own room—a few hours a day in there is good. Make sure it’s big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and sit comfortably.

Outdoors. Pick a well-insulated doghouse that is big enough to comfortably house your dog. If you bring home a puppy, choose a doghouse that will accommodate him when fully grown. Place the doghouse on elevated, well-drained ground that is sheltered from wind and summer sun.

Bringing your dog home

Pick a good time. Aim to bring your dog home for the first time at the start of a weekend, and try to avoid times that are packed with activity, so you can spend time with him. Arrange for your dog not to be fed close to when you will pick him up to help prevent carsickness on the ride home.

Post-arrival pointers

Allow for adjustment

Food. Find out when and what brand of food your dog was being fed before you brought him home. If you want to change brands, do it over a few weeks by gradually mixing in some of the new food with the old. Stick to the same feeding schedule for a few days after you bring home your dog to help prevent tummy trouble.

People and places. Plan to spend a lot of time with your new dog during the first several days to help him get used to you, any family members and unfamiliar surroundings. Limit highly stimulating situations like the dog park and playtime with kids. Make sure kids know how to approach and interact with your dog and that they understand your new furry friend will need time to nap.

Establish routines

Doodie duty. Take your dog out, so he can relieve himself after eating, napping and playtime.

Bedtime and playtime. Gradually introduce your dog to new rooms in your home by spending supervised time in each, one at a time. Put your dog’s bed in the room and gently but consistently encourage him to sit on his bed instead of your furniture. Offer generous praise and treats for good behavior. And remember: a dog that gets regular exercise and playtime makes for a more relaxed, less destructive pooch. Plan on giving him 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Visit the vet

Schedule an exam. Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible for an exam. Remember to bring all immunization information that came with your dog.

Puppy considerations. Have your puppy examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Bring all health information that came with your dog. Avoid the dog park until your dog has been vaccinated.

Additional preparation

Make a dog-care plan. Have your whole family agree on a dog-care plan in advance, so all the important details are taken care of (walking and feeding responsibilities, where your dog can sit and other training issues).

Remember existing pets. Make sure any other pets you already have at home are vaccinated before introducing a new pet.

Dog-proof your home. Move plants, chemicals and breakables to safe places.

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