Have you just adopted a new dog? Before bringing him or her home for endless play time and snuggles, you need to be ready to meet their needs. Dogs don’t require a lot to be happy and healthy, but there are some essentials that should be on hand. Here is what we have found helpful for successfully welcoming in a new canine member of the family:
Dogs need a space to call their own, where they can go for private time and to feel safe. A crate is the best way to define this special “den” for them. Be sure to choose a crate that has enough room for the pet to standup, turn around, and lay down in. If your new pet is a puppy, you will want to purchase a crate suitable for their adult size with a puppy “divider” as too much space for a pet that is not potty trained may result in the dog setting aside a corner to go to the bathroom in. As a general rule, dogs like the area they sleep in clean and will not go to the bathroom in the same space.
A good quality collar is a must. Make sure that it is easy to take on and off (we recommend a click type buckle) and very study – you don’t want the dog getting away with a firm tug that results in a broken collar and dog with no identification.
Dogs can’t talk, so we need to give them as much help as possible in case they get lost. Make sure that your pet wears an identification tag with your phone number on it so that he or she may be returned to you if found. Also, make sure to have your veterinarian put a microchip on your dog so that they may be returned to you if their collar is lost or stolen.
A good, strong leash is a must as well. You will use it anytime the dog leaves the house – for walks, visits to the vet, trips to the dog park, even brunch on the patio of the local coffee shop.
Depending on the size of your dog (and vehicle) you may be able to transport them in their crate. If not, be sure to get a good seatbelt harness for your pooch. A seatbelt keeps them confined to an area in the vehicle keeping them from distracting you while driving.
Quality Dog Food
Your dog deserves to be as healthy as possible. Just like people, good health starts with quality food. Make sure that you select a good food that will meet the nutritional needs of your dog.
Supplements as Needed
At different stages in a dog’s life, their needs change. Help them to meet these needs by providing stage specific supplementation – such as a puppy, adult or senior multivitamin as well as products for specific conditions, such as hip and joint issues.
Food & Water Bowls
Of course, your dog needs a place to eat. Invest in stainless steel food and water bowls. Not only will they last forever, they are much easier to clean. Dog bowls can grow a lot of bacteria that get trapped in porous plastic bowls. A placemat for under the bowls can help to keep the floor clean – especially from messy drinkers.
Grooming your pet is a difficult task and much different than taking care of human needs. Many dog owners find it much easier (on both them and the dog) to make use of the services of a professional groomer.
If you choose to cut your dog’s hair on home – again, a difficult task – you will want a set of quality clippers. Dog hair is very thick and hard on clippers, so a professional quality set is a must if you want to get more than one or two haircuts out of them.
Even if your dog’s regular needs are taken care of at the groomer, they will require a home bath from time to time. Have some dog shampoo on hand just in case.
Dogs hair needs to be brushed regularly to stay clean and free of matts. Purchase a brush that is for the correct hair type and length for your breed.
Dogs nails grow just like ours, and need to be clipped regularly. Be sure you know what you are doing when clipping though – if you clip too short, you will expose the quick and cause damage to the nail and pain for the dog.
Depending on where you live and how often your pet is outside, a pest control regimen may be required. Talk to your vet about prescriptions for heartworm, fleas, ticks and others that may be required for your area.
The best way to train a dog is with repeated positive reinforcement exercises. One of the best forms of positive reinforcement for a dog is a treat. When training, you will go through a lot of treats very rapidly so choose one that is small, soft (easy to eat quickly) and healthy for the dog.
Of course, you must know what you are doing when training your new dog. Investigate various training philosophies and settle on one that you feel is a good fit. Then learn all you can about it and apply the principals to training your new pet. Life with a dog is much more enjoyable with some hard work on the front end to train them the right way.
Dogs need a variety of textures to play with. Be sure to choose toys for your pet that offer soft textures (like stuffed animals and ropes) in addition to more durable toys.
Dogs have an instinctual need to chew. Be sure to offer them a variety of toys to chew on so that they can satisfy their need on something positive, rather than your new pair of shoes.
These are for play time – balls, Frisbees and other fun items to interact together with.