Before you bring home your new puppy/dog, it is important to prepare your home. There are several simple things you can do ahead of time to make your new pets adjustment easier. Your new puppy/dog will very inquisitive about its new environment, so you want to take some simple safety precautions to make the transition smoother:
• Check for poisonous plants;
• Secure all detergents, cleaning products and other chemicals;
• Hide or cover electrical cords;
• Remove all breakables;
• Remove and securely store all kids’ toys;
• Secure all items out of your pets reach that it might chew (things like TV remotes, phones, computer tablets, purses, leather items, wooded items, etc.); and
• Restrict access to pools or hot tubs.
Next, you want to set up your new dog’s sleeping and eating areas. I recommend using a crate for your dog. Some people think it’s cruel to place dogs into crates, but when started young, they learn to easily accept it.
It could be an important training technique later in their life, too. Say you have to evacuate to a shelter for some reason. Most shelters require pets be kept contained while there. If your dog has been accustomed to spending some time in a crate previously, it will be a simple and easy adjustment.
In the crate I like to place something like a bathmat or piece of carpet and then some sort of bedding on top of that. It is best to have a backup set of bedding, because there will more than likely be some sort of accident on the bedding at one time or another. Also, just for regular cleaning purposes it is a nice convenience to have a backup set of bedding.
I also like to have a water bucket in the dog’s crate. You will also want to have something like a Kong toy or an appropriate-sized bone to place in the crate with your new pet.
Next, you will want to set up your dog’s feeding area. I recommend putting down a doggie placemat. This can be a rubber mat purchased at a pet store or a small scatter rug that is machine washable. Again, I recommend having a backup.
Then you will want appropriately-sized food and water dishes. I do not recommend plastic because of toxins that can leach out of the plastic and into your pet’s food and water. I would go with glass or stainless steel. I recommend having several, so you can always have a cleaned and sanitized backup. Food bowls should be washed daily and water bowls, at minimum, weekly. More often is better.
Next, you will want somewhere safe and secure to store your pet’s food. If you are feeding dry kibble, I recommend a stainless steel container where you can place the entire bag of food in the bag inside of the container. If buying large bags of food, a metal trashcan will work.
The reason to store it in the bag is for several reasons. If your food has a recall, you will have the food in the bag to check to see if it is included in the recall. Also, it keeps your storage container more sanitary. It also prevents cross-contamination by emptying new with older product.
So you ask: Why bother putting it into a metal storage container anyway then? Well, it helps to keep varmints like mice from getting into your dog food and contaminating it. It also helps to keep your dog from serving himself.
Now, you need to have a family meeting to determine everyone’s responsibilities in the care and upbringing of the new pooch. You also need to make a list of commands that everyone will use. You don’t want everyone using different commands, it will only confuse your new pet. Standardization is key.
You also need to determine the ground rules, and everyone must enforce them. (Will your new pooch be allowed on all of the furniture or just select pieces? Will new puppy be allowed to sleep in human beds, etc.?) Everyone, again, must enforce the same rules. Consistency is extremely important to prevent confusion for the puppy, so the more prep work you do before the new pup comes home is important.
One last thing to do is to decide what food you will be feeding your new pup. Most breeders will send you home with some of the food they have been feeding. So, first, find out what it is that they have been feeding and decide if it is one you wish to continue with.
Unfortunately, many breeders do not feed what I personally consider to be a high-quality food. If you are not already a savvy dog food label reader, I would recommend starting with a great website, at www.dogfoodadvisor.com. It not only helps to teach you how to read dog food labels, they also have their own rating system to help guide you through the tricky decision process.
A few things to take into consideration in choosing your dog’s food: Now, this is where I become very passionate and opinionated. My opinions are based on my extensive research over the years — but, remember, these are my opinions, and I am not a nutritionist, medical person, etc. I am a very informed consumer. So… my opinion…
First off, I feel that a raw homemade diet is best. Second best is a raw manufactured diet. Third is a homemade cooked diet. Then after that comes kibble and canned. In that range, avoid grains. Dogs are carnivores, not vegetarians, not omnivores. This means they are meat-eaters. So, you want a diet of mostly meat.
You want the best quality food you can afford to feed, both financially and time-wise. Like I said, I believe homemade raw is best; however, I do not personally feed that to my dogs. I know that I do not have the time dedication to properly prepare the raw diet on a regular basis. So, you must recognize your time and financial dedication when choosing your new pup’s food.
However, also realize that by feeding a better, healthier, more nutritionally complete food to your pet, it will help to keep your pet’s overall health better, resulting in possibly lower medical costs.
So, first find out what the breeder is feeding, rate it and decide if you want to stay with that or choose another food. Then do some research and determine the food you wish to use. Also, I believe in feeding a variety of foods, not just sticking to one brand or one flavor. This keeps food fun and interesting to your dog.
If you switch often, you will not need to have an adjustment period. If you use one food for a long period and then want to switch, you will need to do it gradually over a period of one to two weeks.
This should get you started to prepare to bring your new pooch into your home. In another upcoming article, we will talk about welcoming your new pup into your home. It will also talk about training. So, I will leave you with a shopping list of supplies for your new pup, so you can start planning:
• quality dog food;
• small training treats;
• larger training treats;
• water bucket;
• double-clasp hook;
• two sets of food and water bowls;
• crate bedding — at minimum, two sets;
• an additional dog bed;
• training collar;
• 4- or 6-foot leash;
• 10- to 15-foot training lead;
• Collar or harness for walking;
• brushes and combs, breed-appropriate;
• cleaning supplies, such as urine stain remover, scrub brush and doggie do-do bags
• chewy treats;
• quality dog shampoo;
• bitter apple spray;
• dog-specific toothpaste;
• dog placemat.
Cheryl Loveland is a dog groomer, pet-sitter, dog trainer and fosterer for many unwanted animals. She does rescue work for all types of animals and has owned or fostered most types of domestic animals and many wild ones. She currently resides with two bloodhounds, which she has shown in conformation and is currently training her male bloodhound for search-and-rescue work. Also residing with her are a bichon frisée, two cats and two birds. She welcomes comments, questions and suggestions for future articles at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, she is not an expert: she offers her opinions and suggestions from her experience and research.