Bringing A New Dog Home: Things You Need To Know Before The Family Gets Bigger

Bringing A New Dog Home
John Walton
Written by John Walton

For any new dog, the first few weeks are usually the most stressful and challenging. As a new dog owner, these first days are the ones that you should capitalize on, to forge a strong and long-lasting relationship between you and the dog. Due to the sudden change of environment, most dogs are usually confused since they are still not sure of what is expected from them. Hence, during this period, be sure to set up some very clear structures with all the family members, so as to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Also, if you are to achieve a much smoother transition, preparation should always begin several days before the dog arrives and should continue until the dog has fully settled in. The process of adopting a new dog must be executed in three segments.

Dachshund puppy on the bed

The first phase is the preparation period that is usually before the dog arrives. After the preparation period, is the first day and week after the dog arrives. Then finally, the last phase is represented by the weeks that follow within the first month of adoption.

Introducing a new dog: the preparation period

Adopting a dog is a huge step, hence before adding a new member to the family, it is imperative to ensure that every individual in your home is in agreement with the resolution. This step is very important because it is going to show that as a homeowner, you respect and value the opinion of other family members, especially those who might be against the idea. If everyone is in agreement, then you can go ahead and bring in a dog, and if everyone is not in agreement, then a dog might not just be a right fit for your family.

Despite the fact that most people like dogs, not everyone is always open to bringing in a dog home though other people may require a little bit of convincing from time to time. Hence, establishing the stand of other family members before bringing in a dog is very essential.

Once you have been given the green light, the subsequent step will involve the distribution of roles and the establishment of ground rules. The distribution of roles will mainly entail finding a primary caretaker for the dog i.e. a family member who is going to be utterly responsible for taking care of the dog.

Establishment of ground rules will involve issues such as where will the dog be sleeping, locations inside the house that is off-limits to the dog, where his toys and belongings placed will and many others. The distribution of roles and the establishment of ground rules are very important because they are going to eliminate confusions and arguments later on.

Puppy toys

Before you take in a pet, always ensure that your house is always fully packed with all the right supplies. Stocking your house with the right supplies, will eliminate the need for the small trips to the market that will become very common once you bring in a dog. The supplies that you are going to need will include, food bowls, water bowls, toys especially those that are chewable.

A collar and a leash, bed and beddings, a stain and smell removing cleaners and a crate are equally important. After your house is fully stocked with the right supplies, it is very important that every potential dog owner should ensure that the house has been fully prepared for the newest member. For those who are going to get puppies, the work will be a little bit tougher.

Due to their young age and playful nature puppies tend to chew everything and can also be very playful. But irrespective of the age, it is essential to ensure that the house is in order so that once the dog arrives, everything will run smoothly. The first thing that may be required to do is to create a living space for the dog. The living space is the area where the dog is going to spend his or most of her time hence you should make a point of gating it off. If you need help on how to build a your own dog gate, see our DIY guide in a previous article.

While searching for an ideal living space for your dog, you should look for a room where there are a lot of activities probably the living room or the kitchen. Placing the dog’s living area in a room that has lots activity is essential because it is going to abolish any feeling of rejection that your dog might experience. But always remember to gate off this area so that the dog can be placed in this area even when there is no supervision.

Puppy meets the World infographic


Needless to say, the entire house including the dog’s living area should be dog proof so as to eliminate any accidents or unwanted incidences. Dog-proofing the house will mainly involve proper storage of chemicals or medicine that may be within the dog’s reach. Removal of any breakables, plants and rugs, proper tapping of any loose or hanging electrical cords to baseboards and finally the installation of baby gates are all essential. If you want to learn how to construct a doggy door, read our DIY project and see how inexpensive it is.

Since a dog’s training usually begins on the very first day, it is very important that every potential dog owner should have his or her vocabulary list ready. The vocabulary list should feature terms that will be used to issue commands to the dog by all the family members. So, when making the vocabulary list always ensure that the terms on that list will be used by everyone in the house so that your dog will know what to do when commanded. Also, the vocabulary list will always play a key role in ensuring that the pet can learn his or her commands at a very fast rate.

Home care is also another thing that you may be required to look into before you go to pick up the dog. If you are always on a busy work schedule, you can decide to take off a few days from work so that you can bond with the new dog and also conduct his or her house training. Apart from the house training, the dog is also going to require some professional training. Finding a good school for your dog is essential because it is going to ensure that your dog can communicate with you, the owner.

All in all, group obedience classes are highly recommended for puppies because it presents them with the opportunity to be around other canines and also people. Being around people and other dogs will eventually lead to good canine manners. Read our guide on how to effectively teach doggy socialization skills to help you out. Since dog training is unregulated, you can alternatively opt to do the training by yourself. But before you always begin training ensure that you have conducted an enormous amount of research.

Planning the trip back home from the shelter or animal care is very important. Since you may be driving, it is very important that you tag along a helper on the day that you will be going to pick up the pet. Since this might be the first time for your dog to be on a car ride, he or she may become scared or rattled which will eventually turn into a long-lasting phobia. See our tips on how to ensure a safe car ride for your pet.

So as to prevent such scenarios, the helper will keep an eye on him while also ensuring that he or she is comfortable throughout the trip. If the dog is used to car rides, you can then decide to crate him but always ensure that he or she is secured.

Finally, when going to pick up the dog, always ensure that you an ID tag that has your phone number with you, as an extra safety measure. Also, you can go ahead and ensure that he or she is microchipped so that once he comes home, he can be easily found if he gets lost during his first days. If the dog is already microchipped, then you should make a point of registering the new information with the manufacturer of the microchip. Our piece on dog microchips information will help you learn more.

The first day and week upon arrival

Since we all know that moving can be stressful for humans, for dogs it is also equally challenging and stressful. Once your dog arrives, be sure to give him or her ample time to acclimatize in the new environment and the other family members. During the first weeks do not introduce him or her to strangers, but instead give him or her time to know all the family members and adapt in his new home.

If there are any children in the house, always ensure that they fully understand how to approach the dog so that he or she does not become overwhelmed. Furthermore, always ensure that there is constant supervision especially when the children are in the same room with the dog. Why not read our list of dogs that are not suitable for young kids to guide you?

Little boy with a puppy

Before you pick up the dog, it is very essential to establish when his or her feeding time was and also what exactly was he being fed. If you are going to change his food or feeding schedule be sure to repeat his or her feeding schedule within the first few weeks. Replicating his feeding schedule is very important because it is going to eliminate any gastric distress. Click on our feeding timetable for your puppy and be amazed how a simple routine can do wonders for his training.

After the first few weeks have passed by, you can then now begin to introduce at least one part of the new food to three parts of his old meal. Eventually, after a few weeks you can then increase the portions of the new food to half the amount of food consumed by your dog. Finally, you can then switch it up to three parts of the new food to one part of the old food.

Dog training should begin as soon as possible. The earlier the training begins, the more likely your dog is going to have good manners. There are mainly two important things that should be covered during dog training; teaching the dog to be comfortable around people and house training. During the training sessions, you can begin by introducing the dog to the various family members, his living area, crate and any other thing that you may feel he or she may need to know. Our pointers on ways to crate-train your doggy is an excellent resource for you, so go read it.

While working on the house training, it is very important that you set up an appropriate routine. A routine is always going to play a key role in house training and also it is going to be reassuring on your dog’s part. While working out the routine, be sure to cover various aspects such as walking schedules, bathroom breaks, meals, play time, and exercises. Once you have designed an appropriate routine, be sure to follow the routine throughout so that the dog does not become confused along the way. Check our guide on  some easy ways to house-train your pooch that can help you a lot.

Puppy training infographic

Since the dog is going to take some time to adapt to his or her new routine, the process can still be made shorter especially if the dog owner plays a part in the process.  When it comes to toileting, be sure to show your dog his toileting area on the very first day. Furthermore during the bathroom breaks you can always accompany your dog so that he or she can get used to relieving himself or herself in that area. All in all, be prepared for accidents from time to time because the new sounds and smells in a new home are always going to throw the dog off-track. Our tips on how to toilet-train your pup is a good way to start.

Apart from dog training, acquiring a dog license should also be on your priority list. In most states and countries, it is a legal prerequisite for all dog owners to have all the proper documentation. The license comes in handy, especially when the dog gets lost. If you are still not sure of all the legal requirements within your locale, you can always check with the animal care and control within your locale. Also, it is very important that once your dog arrives, he or she is taken to a veterinary officer of your choosing.

For small puppies, be sure to make the trip a very pleasant one so that he or she can be able to grow without fearing these trips. If you are unsure of what veterinary officer to take your dog to, you can always as your friends or neighbors for some referrals. While at the vet’s office be sure that your dog can receive all the necessary vaccinations that he or she may be required to have.

Young Husky playing

Finally, if the dog is from another home, there is a possibility that some of the commands that you might have developed earlier may bring forth different results than what you expected. Also, objects such as hands, chairs, rolled up magazines and leashes may be training tools that have never been used on this particular dog. Hence, once the dog arrives, it is highly advisable for every dog owner to begin the dog training from scratch. Take a look at our piece on proper schedule for training your pup to jump start your regimen.

If your dog is from a sheltered home, there is a slight opportunity that he or she has never mingled with children or experience any sidewalk activities. Hence, you should expect unreal expectations and some scrambled communication from such a dog. When conducting the training sessions be sure to be patient with the dog and allow him or her to learn things at his or her speed. If you’re wondering which dogs are easy to train, read our list on intelligent dogs that are effortless to train.

The subsequent weeks

During the first few weeks, it may be impossible to see your dog’s true personality because he or she will still be adapting to his new home. So, be patient and always ensure that the daily routine and schedule is always followed to the latter to avoid any miscommunication between you and the dog. Furthermore, this routine is always going to remind your dog of what is expected of him or her, and also what should be expected from you, the owner. Following the daily routine or schedule is also going to increase the bond between you, the dog owner and your pet.

Dogs in park

Apart from sticking to training sessions it is also important for every dog owner to take his or her pet to dog parks. Dog parks are an ideal place to monitor your dog’s newly acquired skills and also monitoring his or her body language. The body language is going to tell you as to whether your dog is fearful, aggressive or a threat to other dogs and people.

Establishing as to whether the dog has good canine manners, will ensure that the dog owner can weed out any unwanted behaviors or tendencies before they develop into something big. If you are unsure of certain behaviors or tendencies, then make a point of contacting the veterinary officer for further guidance assistance.

In conclusion, while training your dog be sure to use positive training techniques and if you are not aware of any, ask your dog’s trainer for some tips and advice. Furthermore, be sure to stick to the original schedule that you had created before the dog arrived. If there are going to be some adjustments to the schedule, be sure to introduce it gradually, so that it does not interfere with the entire program or schedule.

If you’re not ready to adopt yet, why not read our piece on useful information about dog fostering?

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.