10 Tips for New Dog Parents
By: Jeff Noce, i4C Innovations President
Bringing home a new dog can be a little like bringing home a new baby. You’re excited and happy, but at the same time, nervous. And if you’re a first-time dog owner, it can feel overwhelming.
When I owned my dog training business, I regularly talked to people who felt “in over their heads” with their new family member. Luckily, there are some simple things that pup parents – novice or not – can do to ease the transition.
Dog proof your home
If you’ve never had a dog before, you may not think anything of leaving shoes on the floor or tasty morsels on your counter. However, some dogs may find them irresistible. Before bringing your dog home, take a look around and put away anything that could tempt or pose a danger, such as electrical cords.
Create a routine
Try to put together a schedule for activities like mealtimes, walks and toileting before you bring your dog home. Dogs thrive on routine, and knowing what to expect puts them at ease and helps avoid behavior problems.
Set up a dedicated dog den
It’s important to give your pup a safe place where he or she can rest and find respite from the excitement of new sights and sounds. Some dogs love curling up in a crate while others prefer their own doggy bed. The important thing is that they feel comfortable and secure.
Give your pup some space
Remember, in those first few days, you won’t be the only one feeling overwhelmed. Your new dog has just landed in a new place with new people and has no idea why. As excited as you may be to introduce him to friends and family, hold off for a few days or a week to give him time to adjust to his new surroundings.
Watch the door
Some dogs are notorious for making a beeline for an open door. Even if he’s not a hardened door darter, he may still try to make a break for it if he’s nervous in his new surroundings. And trying to catch a frightened dog who doesn’t yet know you (or his name for that matter) can be almost impossible. Instruct all family members to exercise extreme caution when entering or leaving the house.
Purchase collars and tags
Before you pick up your dog, pick out a sturdy collar and leash, and purchase an I.D. tag with cell numbers or other contact information. If the worst happens and he does escape, a collar and tag will help him return to you more quickly.
Offer appropriate toys and chews
Dogs have a natural inclination to chew. It exercises jaw muscles, cleans teeth and provides mental stimulation. Too often, owners don’t understand this and get frustrated when their pup gnaws on a table leg or shreds a book. The easiest way to avoid inappropriate chewing is to have suitable dog-safe toys and chews available as soon as he comes home.
Ideally, training begins as soon as your dog comes home. This doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start with something as simple as teaching him his name or having him sit for meals. Most dogs can benefit from taking at least one formal training class; ask around for names of reputable trainers in your area.
Visit the vet
Although your dog may have come to you fully vetted, it’s a good idea to take him for a wellness check soon after you bring him home. This allows the vet to get to know your dog and put his information into the system in case an emergency should arise. Let your vet know if your dog has a Voyce collar so that you can work together to establish a health baseline.
When your new dog comes home, he won’t have any idea what your expectations or rules are. It’s up to you to teach, guide and mold him into a happy, well-adjusted member of your family.
Now I’d like to hear from you! Do you have any other tips for bringing home a new dog? E-mail them to email@example.com.
By the way, don’t miss next Thursday’s post where I’ll discuss “white coat syndrome” and how it affects your dog’s health.
Jeff Noce is the President of i4C Innovations. Jeff has owned both Labrador Retrievers and Mastiffs, and today his family includes Scout, an English Mastiff (pictured in the image at the top of this page) that accompanies him to work each day.
Jeff’s weekly blog posts can be found every Thursday, right here on MyDogsVoyce.com.