In order to make life as safe, pleasant and enjoyable as possible for your new dog or puppy, it pays to think ahead. The first week or so will be busy and demanding as your dog settles into his or her new environment.
Getting things right in the early days will pay off in the long term. It will pay to look around your house and garden before bringing your new dog into your home. Dogs are in awe of new surroundings and will want to explore and get into everything.
Set your rules and boundaries from the start and stick to them. If you wish certain areas of the home or particular rooms to be out of bounds then be consistent. Keep any items of value out of reach. It pays to supervise!
Protect your dog from potentially harmful items such as electrical cords and heavy items which could fall on your dog. Check your boundary. Will he be able to escape by digging under fences or by jumping over walls? Are there any hazards that need to be moved in order to prevent sharp teeth and claws investigating further? I have visited client's homes where literally thousands of dollars worth of damage has been done to plants, trees, vehicles, boats, furniture, etc.
Picking your new dog up.
- It is generally best to pick a new dog up as early in the day as possible. This will give him most of the first day to get to know you and his new surroundings.
- Make sure you have obtained all relevant information such as what particular food he has been eating,
- Find out when he last had a meal.
- Be prepared in case of car sickness.
- How will he be transported? On a passenger's lap or in a secure crate or similar?
- Obtain his health records which should list vaccinations, etc.
His arrival home.
- Allow him to explore his new surroundings under supervision. Bear in mind that a very young dog will need to go to the toilet frequently.
- Everyone in the household needs to know the rules in advance.
- Always supervise children whilst around dogs.
- Only one person at a time should handle the dog.
- Voices should be kept quiet and everyone must be gentle.
- If you have other pets, introduce them under supervision, one at a time.
Decide in advance where your dog is to sleep. Place his bed or crate in that position so that he learns early that is his space. He may want to go there when tired or stressed. Be prepared to allow him space and time on his own in these circumstances.
Other things to consider.
- A visit to the vet for a check up and vaccinations. Organise regular worming and flea treatment. Consider de-sexing.
- Toilet training. Expect accidents. Generally it will take approximately six months for a puppy to master this. Further accidents can still happen up to a year or so of age. A nervous or excited dog will also have accidents upon meeting people and possibly other dogs. Generally, your pup will need to go to the toilet after eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, confinement. Watch out for signs such as circling, heading towards doors and windows and also looking behind furniture. You will learn to read the signs! It pays to take a puppy outside to toilet every twenty to thirty minutes. Praise when they perform! If your dog has an accident indoors do not make a fuss or tell him off. You will only confuse him. The odds are that you missed the signs or he was confined and didn't have the opportunity!
- Socialising - Early socialisation and interaction with other animals and humans will prevent many bad habits later on. Ensure you keep your dog away from other dogs which are dominant or aggressive as these behaviours may influence your own dog's social skills and behaviours.
- Training - Dogs are hierarchal pack animals, they all have two basic requirements : to know their place within their pack and to be capable of responding to their pack leader(s). Training will prevent a dog from developing bad habits and will give you a happy, confident, sociable companion. Training can begin approx. 3 months of age. The benefits of good training are invaluable.
Do's and don'ts.
- Do not bath before 5 months of age as the skin is very sensitive.
- Do not allow anyone to be rough with the pup, treat him as you would a young child.
- Do protect pup from his environment.
- Do give lots of love and attention but do develop rules and boundaries.
- Do fee regularly as required (generally three times a day up to six months, and then twice a day until approx. one year old).
- Do ensure constant access to clean water.
- Do keep up with all medication, vaccinations and treatments, as required.
- Do not be afraid to ask if you have concerns. Like kids, dogs do not come with a manual!
Things you might need.
- A good quality food. Dry biscuits are best and can be mixed with meat, pet mince, pasta, rice and mixed vegetables as required.
- Toys - some dogs like to have a comfort toy or a toy to chew.
- A dog crate which can act as his den, and can assist with toilet training.
- Hard wearing bedding which can be washed regularly and cannot be chewed.
- Food and water dishes (clean after each use)/
- Collar and lead.
- Grooming brush.
- A baby gate for restricting access into or out of rooms.
- A dog playpen which can be moved from location to location as needed ie. inside or outside.
- Appropriate cleaning materials in case of accidents.
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."