Adopting a Dog: How to Prepare in Advance

Are you thinking of adopting a dog but you’re not sure how to prepare? The process can be a smooth one as long as you are equipped with the right information (and the right treats!). We’ve compiled a list of things you should expect to do prior to and during the first week of welcoming your new pup into your home.

Prior To You Dog’s Arrival

There are many ways in which you can prepare for your dogs arrival, similar to the way you would prepare for a new roommate. You’ll need to purchase a bed, a dog bowl, dog food, a leash, etc. before you pick your pup up from the shelter. Make the transition easiest on yourself by being equipped with all the necessities before she arrives. Additionally, it’s important to decide where your dog will spend the majority of her time in your house. Remember your dog will be dealing with the stress of a new environment and a new owner. She may be prone to accidents, so choose her designated indoor spot carefully. If you plan to crate train your dog, be sure to have the crate ready when she arrives. Refer to our article on housebreaking your dog for more information about crate training. Make sure you have also puppy-proofed all areas of the house that she may come into contact with. This may mean moving plants to a higher shelf, tucking in electrical chords, and removing objects near the floor that could unintentionally become chew toys.

Tip: Ask the shelter if you can bring her favorite chew toy home with you!

Have an ID tag and collar made in advance. As your new dog will be unfamiliar with your house and surrounding area, it’s good to have an extra measure of safety in case she runs away and has no idea how to get back. Make sure to keep a careful eye on your dog the first few days and have her leashed or in a secure fenced area when she is outdoors so she doesn’t get lost.

Create Habits Right Away

As dogs are pack animals, your canine will look to you for leadership. It is up to you to teach her what she can and cannot do. Thus, don’t issue a command unless you are able to continually enforce it. Use the command phrases your have chosen to help you dog understand what is acceptable and what is not. Mixed messages will simple teach her to ignore you. Additionally, while it’s great to play with your dog, don’t rough-house in a way that encourages any aggression on her part or tempts her to challenge you. Make sure you show her who is boss, in a kind and loving way.

Changing Her Food

You’ll probably be feeding your new dog higher quality food than her shelter could afford. In order to avoid any digestive problems and decrease the amount of sudden changes she will experience, purchase a small amount of food she was eating while at the shelter and use this for her first few days. Then slowly you can start mixing in new food until she becomes fully accustomed to her new diet.

Spending Time Together

It’s important to strike a good balance of bonding with your new dog in the first few days but also giving her an opportunity to adjust to time on her own. Some dogs, and more often those coming from shelters, can suffer from separation anxiety. Therefore, leave her alone only for a bit each day in the beginning. This may be something like a short walk outside to check the mail or pick up some milk. You should increase your time away from the dog slowly, and eventually she will become comfortable being on her own. If you new pup is especially shy, you can encourage her to interact with you through the use of treats and a calm, welcoming voice.

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