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Welcome Home: Setting Your New Dog Up For Success

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There is no more exciting time in your household than bringing a new dog or puppy home. You want to start your relationship off on the right paw, and help set your new family member up for success.

But imagine what it must be like for the dog. New people, a new house, new food, a new yard, and new rules can be really overwhelming. Add to that, your dog doesn’t know your language yet. Every time you open your mouth your dog is hearing, “Blah, blah, blah.” Yikes! That could be really stressful! And what happens if your dog makes a mistake, like soiling in the house? What kind of a reaction is he or she going to get from you or a family member? The wrong reaction to a mistake can be a traumatic event that can have a long term negative effect.

So what do you do to help ease the stress for everyone and not traumatize your new four-legged friend? Being prepared with the right equipment and having a game plan that everyone in your household knows can help your dog transition successfully into his or her new family and home.

The “Welcome Home” blog series was designed to help you and your dog adjust to life together with science-based methods and family friendly training techniques that use positive reinforcement as the core structure. In upcoming posts, we’ll outline a plan of action for you in the first two weeks with your new dog. So gather your entire household to participate. It will be easier on your dog if everyone is using the same techniques and is consistent in the commands being given.  If children under the age of twelve are going to participate, adult supervision is recommended at all times.

It’s also important to remember that your veterinarian should be your first point of contact for questions about your new dog and any problems that arise. Some behavior issues, like soiling in the house, can actually be a health related issue, so it’s important to get a vet’s professional diagnosis. Your veterinarian can help you with behavior and training issues as well.

Top 10 Must Have Items for Your New Dog

The first two weeks with a new dog can be a stressful time for not only the dog, but also for you and your family members. To minimize the confusion, there are a couple of things you’ll need to have on hand. Having the right tools to work with can make a huge difference in helping your dog to make a successful transition into their new home.

The following list was put together to set you and your new puppy or dog up for success. These tools will help in training, daily management, dog safety, and getting everyone used to each other in the first two weeks. Preferably, these items should be gathered before the dog shows up.

1) Leash

A six foot regular leash is our suggestion to help keep your dog at a controllable distance from you. Retractable leashes can be dangerous to not only dogs but humans and make it more difficult to keep your dog where you want him.

2) Harness

A harness with a chest and shoulder clip takes the pressure off your dog’s neck and allows you to steer your dog comfortably on walks. This method of walking your dog eliminates a large percentage of pulling and makes walks more enjoyable for everyone.

3) Bowls

You’ll need at least two bowls for your dog, one for food and one for water. We recommend stainless steel bowls which are dishwasher safe and easy to clean.

4) Food

It may go without saying that you’ll need dog food, but pay attention to what you feed your new pet. Every dog is different, so ask your veterinarian if they have any recommendations on specific types of food that will be best suited for your dog.

5) Pet Stain Remover

Accidents are going to happen. Be ready for them with a product made for pet stains with an enzyme that breaks down organic material. Carpet cleaner doesn’t eliminate the smell to your dog, and they may continue to soil in the same place, even if you’ve “cleaned up” the original mess. An enzyme product will dissolve the odor to you and your dog.

6) Crate

Dogs love to have a place to relax, sleep, and call their own. A crate for containment makes training a breeze and gives you a safe place to put your dog when you don’t have time to watch them. Don’t forget to put a soft blanket or towel on the inside the crate, to make it more comfortable.

7) Taste Deterrent

Dogs will be dogs and some dogs just have to chew. Make sure your dog doesn’t chew on the wrong thing in your house. Spray a taste deterrent on things you don’t want your dog to put his mouth on.

8) Toys

Don’t forget the toys! Your dog will be less interested in chewing your furniture or your shoes if she has fun chewy toys to play with. At least one food dispensing toy, like a Kong, is a great idea to challenge and occupy your dog’s time.

9) Grooming Supplies

You’ll need dog brushes and nail trimmers to keep your dog’s coat and nails in tip top shape. The kind of brushes you’ll need will depend on your dog’s coat.

10) Collar and ID Tags

Have a collar and an ID tag with your contact information with you when you go to pick up your new dog. These two items should be on your dog at all times.

With these items in your dog training toolbox, you’ll be all set to welcome the newest member of the family with minimal stress and set everyone up for transitioning success. Remember the key to helping your new dog learn the ropes is patience and consistency. In the next “Welcome Home” post, we’ll discuss Crate Training.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT

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