How exciting! You’re about to bring home a new family member and we want to help you create a plan for success just as you would when having a baby.
The first step is making sure that the dog you want will be a good fit for you and your family. Let’s face it, puppies are dang cute and hard to resist! But, they quickly grow into dogs with their own personalities and needs. If you are very active and want a dog to take everywhere and do lots of activities with then a herding or working breed may be the best dog for you….but, if you are busy with very little “extra” time, you may want to look at an older dog that does not need a lot of training and exercise. One of the saddest decisions a person has to make is to rehome a dog because he/she was just more than they expected. Let’s try to make sure everyone is set up for success by researching the breed and knowing what to expect. If you are not sure what breed might be best, please talk to us and we’ll be happy to help!
After finding the right breed for you, we recommend selecting a Veterinarian in your neighborhood. You may already have a family Vet, but if not, ask extended family members, friends, and neighbors what Vet they recommend. It is important to see your Vet for all the appropriate shots and to begin a good relationship between your dog and their doctor (plan to take your puppy/dog for “happy vet visits” where the staff gives your dog treats and attention without any scary stuff). While at the Vet, please ensure your new is dog micro-chipped.
- A Micro-chip: A Micro-chip is a rice-sized device that contains a code that is stored in a database with your information. We highly recommend you get both a visible ID tag and a registered micro-chip.
Before bringing your puppy or new dog home we recommend you purchase a few items in advance.
- A Crate: A crate will keep your new dog in a confined area where you can monitor and potty train them. Crates provide a feeling of safety for your dog as it replicates a closed-in den space. Your dog should be able to stand up, sit down and turn around easily. Get a crate that will fit your dog when it is fully grown. Some crates come with dividers that can be utilized during the puppy phase.
- Food & Water Bowls: We recommend non-skid, stainless steel bowls. They are strong and easy to clean and typically too difficult for a puppy to carry in its mouth.
- Good Food: Look at the first five ingredients on your food bag and make sure there are named animal proteins listed (i.e. poultry is not chicken). You should also see fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. Avoid by-products, corn, wheat, glutens and soy. These will only cause allergens later on that is expensive to treat and often difficult to overcome.
- Shampoo and a Good Brush: It is often a good idea to bathe your dog immediately once you get it home. Some prefer to wait a day as to not stress them in their new surrounding. We recommend using a Hypo-Allergenic dog shampoo, as human shampoos have a different pH level and are extremely drying for their skin. Take the time to brush your dog often to remove dead hair and mats. Do this often as a puppy to get them use to the experience. Never force your dog to endure grooming sessions. Work slowly and make brushing a bonding time.
When you bring your new dog home, don’t expect your other cats or dogs to love the new guy or vice versa. Give them time to get to know each other before they spend a lot of time together (and never leave them unattended at first). It’s great when the new dog fits right in, but that does not always happen. It is best to slowly introduce your new dog to your existing dog outside of the home on ‘neutral territory’. Go for a walk in the neighborhood and let them get used to being in each other’s space. Please do not force an introduction here. Give each dog time to smell one another. Once you determine everyone seems calm it is time to go inside. Please remember that before you go outside it is important to pick up toys, food and chews inside the house that could potentially cause a problem. Stay calm and give the new dog time to explore the rest of the home (under supervison). Please ensure young children have time to be slowly introduced to your new dog. It is also okay to separate your new dog from the existing dog to give them time to settle down and learn your routine. This is another reason why we love crates! It is much easier to avoid jealousies and fights in the beginning than to try and fix problems later. Each dog also needs individual time with every member of the family so that they learn to bond with each.
Now that you’ve brought your new furry member of the family home, set him or her up for success. Let them know what he or she is allowed to do. Show him where he is supposed to potty, what he is allowed to play with, to chew on, where the water bowl is and where the treat jar is. Give him time to settle into your home and routine before exposing him to a lot of new people and places. If you dog came from a shelter please remember they have typically not been potty trained or often know nothing about living in a home.
Prevent your new dog from practicing undesirable behaviors. Manage the environment by using crates, baby gates and leashes. Anytime you can’t watch your dog, please put him in his crate. Dogs that are given too much freedom too soon can get into trouble. As your new dog learns the rules of your household, he can be given more freedom. Consider getting a Kong® and filling it with healthy ingredients. A Kong® will keep your puppy or new dog entertained for long periods of time while you’re away. With puppies consider giving a small packaged treat when put into the crate after being outside to potty or at bedtime as a reward.
Control resources. You have immense power in this dog’s life, both to enrich it and to give it structure. Dogs love structure and crave mental stimulation. You could give him a bowl of food for free which he eats in a minute or less and forgets about, or you can use the food for a training session. If you don’t have time to train that day, put the food in a Kong or Buster Cube, a food dispensing toy, so that he gets some exercise (physical and mental) while he is eating.
Be generous and creative with rewards. Most dogs respond well to food, so using their dog food for training gives them a “job for pay”. Many dogs love balls and toys and would be thrilled to work for the joy of playing a game with you. Teaching your dog to sit to get games started and to give up toys when asked will help them learn self-control and make the game much for fun for both of you!
You’ll need the following to help you succeed in training.
- Training Treats: We prefer small in size and good smelling treats to reward your dog for good behavior.
- Treat Tote (training pouch): You can easily attach this to your belt or pants. This makes it easy to reward when your pet is acting appropriately.
Make good manners a part of life for your dog. Dogs that learn to sit for everything don’t get into trouble for jumping on people. This is 100% true!! They also learn to wait their turn instead of barking for attention. Teach your dog how to ask for something nicely by sitting instead of barking or jumping up.
Reward your dog when he is calm and minding his own business. If your dog is lying down quietly, drop a piece of kibble next to him as you go by. Reward him whenever he is being calm and you will see him start to be much calmer in general.
Find a good training school that uses positive reinforcement methods. When you look for a training school and talk to a trainer, be sure to ask what method they use and how they train. If they suggest anything that makes you uncomfortable or that you feel will be harmful to your dog, please listen to your gut. There are no federal guidelines for dog trainers so it’s important to ask a lot of questions to find the right trainer for you. Go and observe a class to see if the dogs and owners are enjoying training. Taking a six-week basic class with your new dog will help him learn to bond closer to you and your family. Most rescue dogs have never had any training and don’t realize how much fun it is to work for a person. Your new dog will also learn to pay attention to you and ignore other dogs, which will make it much easier when you take him for walks! Ask for help if you are having any behavior issues (most can be fixed pretty quickly if you work with a good trainer!). Most dogs that are given up to shelters and rescue groups just need to be shown what to do so that they can become good companions. We highly recommend Pat Marshall with Happy Hounds Training Center. You will learn everything you need to begin a rewarding relationship with your dog at Happy Hounds!
- Puppies grow up VERY fast and it’s crucial that they be socialized while they are young to everything they will experience in life. Be careful that they are exposed to new people and places at a level they can handle and avoid scary situations.
Your puppy will be teething just like children do and need to stimulate their gums. Consider getting:
- Chews: All dogs have a knack for chewing on everything and anything. Chews redirect their attention to chew on things they should be chewing on and avoid the things they you don’t want them to chew on. It also keeps them entertained and mentally occupied. We suggest soft chews for puppies. Bones are better suited for a puppy five months and older.
- Toys: Nylabones are good plastic toys made for teething. We also recommend a variety of toys to entertain your new puppy. A hard rubber/plastic toy and a squeaky toy, and some type of ball that you can play fetch with. Remember to keep these types of toys away from the dog when unattended. It’s best not to leave toys or chews available when left unattended as they could easily choke.
Exercise your dog! A tired dog is a happy dog and is much easier to live with. Most dogs need more than just a walk around the block, so teach the dog to love playing fetch, Frisbee or some game that uses up a lot of energy.
You’ll need to buy:
- A Collar: Adjustable nylon collar with two-piece buckle. We recommend Martingale collars as they are designed to not slip off the dog’s head. The collar should fit snugly while allowing 2 fingers between the collar and the pup’s neck.
- A Leash and Poop Bags: A strong and well-made leash, preferably 5 to 6 feet that attaches to the collar allowing you to keep your dog safe during walks and use for obedience training. Responsible pet owners pick up their dog’s poop.
- ID tags: List the animal’s name, your name and phone number. We have a great selection of tags made of thick, durable stainless steel that is customized with your pet’s information.
Other items to consider when preparing to bring home a new dog:
- Flea, Tick and Heartworm Preventative: We are in Texas so all of this is necessary all twelve months of the year.
- Toenail Clippers: Begin clipping their toenails as a puppy, if not they will probably resist as an adult. Our groomer is also available for a mani-pedi!
- Add probiotics to aid digestion and nutrient absorption while balancing bacteria in the stomach. Primal Goat Milk is an excellent choice. This will also help their immune system.
By following this simple check list you’ll be on your way to creating a wonderful fulfilling relationship with you and your pet. Please visit Patsy’s Pet Market for more information on the proper tools, food, toys, and treats and contact Happy Hounds Training Center for more information about the appropriate training for your new puppy or adult dog.
Congratulations on your new family member and have FUN! You are both starting on a great new adventure together and we wish you many wonderful years together!
Jointly written by Patsy McCray and Pat Marshall
You can find more information about Happy Hounds Training Center 281-550-7810 or visit their website: www.happyhounds.us