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59% of those surveyed say pets are good for their health and the health of their family and help them relax. 40% say that owning a dog motivates them to exercise on a regular basis. Three-quarters of dog owners consider their dog like a child or family member and more than half of cat owners say the same (NPOS). From APPMA

Introducing a new dog into your household:

Making the decision to adopt or purchase a pet is one of the biggest decisions a family, couple or single will make during their lifetime. Just like children, dogs need TLC and nurturing as well as basic needs like food, shelter, and water, and a safe and loving environment. If this sounds like a huge responsibility, that’s because it is! If you’re still determined to get a dog and you are up to the challenge, then you’re in luck. Once you make it past the purchasing or adoption process and your new addition has made it home, you will quickly learn that having a pet is also one of the most wonderful experiences you will have during your lifetime. Continue reading to find out how to prepare your home for your new pet.

Depending on whether your new pet is a puppy or an adult dog, there are several things to consider before you leave the shelter or pet store. These include:

  • What to buy
  • The ride home
  • Other pets
  • Friends and family

What to Buy
Shopping for your new dog can be fun, but it can also be frustrating if you don’t have an accurate list of must-haves. Miss any important items on your “what to buy” list, and you just might find yourself making multiple trips to the pet store for things that are essential to you and your new pet’s well being, especially during his first few days in a strange new place. The following list represents the most important items to purchase for your new pet and a few that might put your new dog at ease.*

  • Identification tag: Include the dog’s name, full address, home number, and cell number.
  • Dog bowls: Three is a good number. Use one for food and the other two for fresh water.
  • Puppy or dog food
  • Dog crate: Metal is better for hot climates and plastic is better for cooler climates and for air travel
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Expandable lead
  • Baby gates
  • Puppy pen
  • Nail trimmers
  • Dog grooming brush, preferably soft
  • Dog bed*
  • Dog toys*

The Ride Home
Some dogs are perfectly fine with riding in a car. In fact, most dogs love the breeze across the face or the wind whipping through their hair. Unfortunately, there are others that may be too nervous, anxious, or scared to enjoy the ride or they just might not be used to riding in a vehicle. There are several items to keep on hand in case your new pooch doesn’t take to the car. Bring lots of paper towels, cover the seat with a sheet, bring a box for puppies (this may make them feel more secure), bring something for them to chew on as this may keep them occupied, and bring a friend to sit in the back seat with your new dog and play with him.

Be sure to drive slowly, especially around curves, play some soothing music such as classical music, and speak softly to your pet and in conversation. This will also help keep him calm.

Other Pets, Family, and Friends
Once you make it home, you will plenty of training to do. Not only will your new dog need training, but so will your friends, family members, and other pets. We’re assuming that you chose your pet because he’s sweet, friendly, and adorable. If you already have pets in the home, we are assuming that they are also friendly and adorable, as well as well trained.

When you first introduce your new pet to pets already in the home, they may sniff around one another and the new pet may whimper a bit, but they are ok, so don’t interfere. If for some reason your pets become aggressive, this is the time to step in. If it is the new pet that seems aggressive, this is when you might want to call the shelter or pet store for advice.

If you have a cat in the home, don’t worry. Chances are after several weeks they will get along just fine. And remember, it’s the cat that will probably take the longest to get adjusted to the idea of sharing her space.

A good way to get the family acquainted with the dog and vice versa is to sit in a circle, with poochie in the middle, and allow him to introduce himself to each family member on his own. Each family member should have equal time. Do not force the pet to spend more time with one over the other. Kids should not pull or tug on the pet and they should not be aggressive with the pet in any way. The pet may feel threatened and his instinct may be to protect himself.

Also, when friends come to visit, to help encourage good manners, have the friends either kneel down and pet your pooch or sit in a low chair. Give your pet something to chew on or hold him while sitting down to get him to calm down. This will teach good manners – on both sides.

Good Night
When nighttime arrives and it’s time to settle in for the evening, make a space for your new pet near your bed. This will make him feel safe. There may be some whining, but this will subside after the first few nights. Simply place your hand in or on the crate or in the box when this happens. Keep in mind that you will have to take your new pet out several times to relieve himself during the night, so be prepared. It’s best to get the job done and take your pet right back to his crate or box. If you start playing with your new dog at odd hours, he will get used to having attention during this time.

If for some reason you cannot keep your new pet in the bedroom with you, you may crate him in the kitchen or bathroom. To calm his nerves, play some classical music and keep the lights off or very low.

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