The day to bring home your new dog has finally arrived and your life will never be quite the same again! If you’ve planned ahead, rung up some goodies on the plastic, and thought through the day’s events from the car ride home to the first 24 hours, you’ll be off to a good start. The day may toss a screwball or two in your direction, but if you’ve thought it through, there won’t be anything you can’t handle!
Mom’s right, again—first impressions really count. To make this homecoming as smooth as possible, please read the suggestions in this blog post and resist the urge to spoil your dog or puppy before you’ve even brought him home. This is a pretty tall order, I know!
The day is arriving—it’s time to pull out your plastic and do a little shopping for your new arrival! Though the temptation may strike to buy every gimmick—from the latest toy to that designer doggy raincoat—I suggest you bring a list and stick to it. This post includes a sample list; the most important items are discussed next.
Shopping List for My New Dog:
Three bowls (two for water and one for food)
Puppy or dog food
Soft grooming brush
You don’t have to break the bank on bedding! Most dogs are happiest curled up in an old sweatshirt or a towel. Some even prefer cool tile over soft and snuggly bedding. Feel free to improvise for this item. A tag with your dog’s name and your address may endear him to dognappers or let thieves know your dog’s not home to protect you. No, I’m not paranoid – just cautious. Call your local animal shelter and ask for more information regarding tattooing or ID chips. These quick and painless procedures are another insurance should your dog get lost or stolen.
Crates: The crate should be large enough to accommodate your dog when he’s fully grown. Because some puppies may soil an oversized crate, buy one that has a divider available in case you need it. Ideally, the crate should be placed in a bedroom because both puppies and dogs hate being alone at night. If this is out of the question, place the crate in a well-trafficked room like the kitchen or family room. There are two types of crates you should consider: metal or plastic. The metal crates are sturdier and allow better ventilation — definitely a must in hot environments. The travel kennels are made from durable plastic and serve the same purpose. If you plan to air travel frequently with your dog, I’d suggest plastic. If the idea of a crate turns your stomach or you’re home all day, there is another way to get through the early stages without it. No dog should be left in the crate longer than six hours.
Baby Gates: Gates is a must to close off a playroom (ideally the kitchen) and to block off forbidden or dangerous areas.
Leashes: For now, purchase a lightweight nylon leash and an expandable lead, which you’ll use for outdoor playtime and advanced training.
Bowls and Beds: If you’re a decorator at heart, you’ll have fun shopping for these things. Look hard enough and you’ll find bedding to match every room and bowls to match the tiles in your kitchen! Stainless steel metal bowls are best for food and water. They’re completely hypoallergenic, they wear well, and are easy to clean. I suggest two bowls for water: one as a staple and one to keep by the toilet bowl to discourage bowl sipping. Have the bowls and bedding ready and in position before you bring your dog home. Put water in one dish and some treats in the other dish and in the bedding. What a cool surprise!
Food: Decide on a nutritional plan ahead of time. Dry food is best in the long run, though it may not be suitable for a puppy’s first few months with you. Consult your breeder or ask your veterinarian or local pet store about your dog or puppy’s nutritional needs.
Collar and Tag: Have a buckle collar and tag waiting for your new arrival. If you’re getting a puppy, purchase a lightweight nylon collar and a small tag. Don’t worry if you haven’t picked out a name. A good tag should give your phone number with a short message, such as “Please return me to 666-555-4444.” When fit properly, you should be able to comfortably slip two fingers under the collar. Check it often if you have a puppy—they grow faster than you’d think. If you’re getting a dog or puppy over 4 months, invest in a training collar.
Toys: Be sensible. Resist the temptation to buy one of everything; too many toys will be confusing. Your dog will think that everything mouth-able is fair game. And please avoid designating old shoes, socks, or other household objects as toys! You’ll be sorry. Hard bones are the best. If your plan is to use plastic or gum bones, don’t give your dog edible toys. He won’t settle for anything less. White, knotted rawhide can expand in the stomach, so I don’t recommend it. Puppy pacifiers, gumma bones, hooves, or pig ears are safe.