Here are 12 tips that can help ease the transition and make adding the new family member a fun and delightful experience for everyone:
Also consider what kind of environment your doggo will need. Consider what your expenses will be for the essentials like food, treats, bedding, a collar/leash, a pet carrier, toys, grooming and training, and of course going to the vet.
Adding a new doggie to your mix is a huge decision and not one that should be taken lightly. If you have a bigger family with kids, it’s important to decide who will be the main caretaker and to divide up chores so they don’t all fall on one person. Whether you adopt a young puppy or rescue an older dog from a shelter, you’ll want to elect one person to be the primary trainer. Once your dog is potty trained and starts to understand basic commands, then the family can adapt to using those same verbal cues or hand signals when communicating with the new pup.
Having a pet is a great way to start teaching your kiddos age-appropriate responsibility, so chores like taking your pup for a walk, refilling water bowls or picking up poop in the yard are great ways for everyone to have a job. Ideally, it should be a team effort, but when it comes to food or medicine, you’ll want to make sure there’s only one person in charge so you can avoid accidental overfeeding or overmedicating.
When you adopt adog from a shelter you’re not only saving their life, but rescue dogs also come with a ton of perks! Most (if not all) shelters or rescues will make sure that prior to any adoption, the dog is examined and treated by a vet, spayed or neutered to control the homeless pet population, microchipped and evaluated for any possible behavioral issues. If you do just a little bit of research, you’ll find that the adoption fee is pennies compared to what it would cost for you to pay for all that they include. Of course, a shelter is just one option, and there are people everywhere perfectly thrilled by buying from a breeder, where there is no mystery about the earliest and formative months of your pup.
It can be super fun to research which breed is best suited for your family. If you have kids, get them involved in the process so they feel more connected, and they will feel more responsible for your new pup when you bring them home. It’s important to consider your doggie candidate’s compatibility with kids, their size, energy level, grooming care and any special needs they may have before introducing a new pup to your family.
There’s no need to rush when making your decision. If you are adopting from a shelter, try visiting local shelters to get a feel for the ideal size, breed or temperament of the dog that will be the best fit for your family. If you live in a community with lots of dog owners, get to know them, ask questions about their dog and lifestyle and ideally, get to know the dogs. If you find that you really want a specific breed -- say, because it’s a hypoallergenic breed that’s better for people with allergies -- make sure you do your research when shopping for a reputable breeder.
Never be afraid of asking too many questions. Find out why the doggie is in the shelter in the first place. Not all shelter dogs were abandoned by irresponsible owners or given up because of behavioral issues. Sometimes the dog’s owner may become ill or even die, leaving nowhere else for them to go. Most of the time, dogs are placed in shelters because of people problems (losing income or inability to care for the dog) and not necessarily problems with the doggies themselves.
When you get your pup home, that’s when training begins. Start setting clear boundaries and rules, and begin using verbal cues and hand gestures from day one. Offer positive praise and limited treats for good behavior. If you plan to crate train, it’s important that your dog doesn’t associate crate time with punishment. Crate training teaches patience and helps with housebreaking, but will also keep your dog out of your things and out of trouble, while also teaching your pup how to self-soothe or play quietly. Even if you don’t plan to crate train your new pup, you should still establish a safe spot for your dog to go for mid-day naps or to play with a toy.
A good dog food will have meats, grains and vegetables, or at least some of that mix (and plant-based is increasingly an option to consider). But if you have a puppy, depending on the age, your vet may suggest that you start with wet dog food and then switch over to kibble after a couple of weeks so your pup can gradually get used to the change. Some breeds may have different nutritional requirements than others, but size, age and activity level will also be a factor in choosing the right food for your pup.
For a small fee, you can buy pet insurance likeEmbrace that can cover unexpected medical costs, with a proven record of paying out when it matters. Some policies also include routine costs like annual vet visits and prescriptions. The average fee paid by owners is between $20 and $50 per month. (Premiums often increase later in life, especially depending on the breed, ie an English Bulldog hitting 9 or 10.) Check with your vet to see what insurance they accept or if they have their own in-house wellness plan to help reduce the costs of routine visits.
This is a big one. “Am I ready?” Your answer is everything. Getting a new dog is a lot like having a baby and your life will change accordingly. Granted, there are a few differences, like leaving your dog at home when you run to the store -- which you won’t do with children -- but becoming a first-time pet parent will definitely require some lifestyle adjustments. Like children, your dog will be completely dependent on you for food and water and potty breaks. Sleep will be affected. If you work long hours away from home, or if you do a lot of traveling, you might want to hire a professional dog walking and sitter service.
A very small percentage of pups will come along for a flight, depending on size and cost. For the most part, we either leave the pup behind with a reputable pet sitter or -- more likely -- we put off that occasional trip. We might be more inclined to drive, and that’s another thing. Pups aren’t great distance travelers, so you need to be ready with supplies for their sensitive little tummies. It’s best not to put them through too much. New pup owners are home a lot.
If your job or lifestyle pulls you away from home a lot, you’ll need a reliable pet sitter or a good boarding service to take care of your pup while you’re gone. Be sure to do your research, look at the reviews, interview the sitter, or visit a site likeRover (Uber-like quality!) before making a decision.
Find the right one, and you will have comfort in knowing that your furbaby will be well taken care of while you’re away. If the first service is great but the second time you see pics of your pup out driving around with the top down and visiting Dad at his home with the lake for a backyard, shop around for a second option. Reliability over time is the key.
Three words:Camp Bow Wow.
Look, adding a new pet to your family can be a very rewarding and therefore personally challenging experience for everyone, as long as you know what you’re getting into. You’re going to make a million beautiful memories. Doing a little research and making sure you don’t fall prey to cuteness overload and jump at the first snuggle-butt you see will be worth making a more educated decision in choosing the best baby to join your family.