Is it really happening? A dog is coming to live in your home?!

Congratulations!

Whether this is the first or fifteenth dog to join your pack – welcoming a new canine to the crew is always exciting.

If it’s been awhile since moving a pup into your place, it’s a good idea to review some doggie basics – these best practices will help all of you make a smooth transition to your new normal.

Head To The Vet
First things first, do a vet check. Whether you picked up your pup from a shelter or rescue organization, or brought home a babe from a breeder, introduce your new dog to your local, and trusted vet to set up a rapport. Your initial visit is a great time to go over any concerns and questions, as well as confirm vaccination schedules or any necessary treatment. Your vet might have dog food recommendations (*cough cough* we hear YaDoggie is a big hit with all breeds *cough*), and insight into local training courses. It will be good to talk about how much exercise and food your dog should be getting, too. If you don’t already have a trusted professional at your service, ask friends for referrals, or look up vets online; the breeder or organization you worked with might even have someone to recommend, as well. The sooner you can select your vet, and get in for a baseline appointment, the smoother your dog ownership will go.

The Four Stages Of Dogdom: Eat, Sleep, Play, Poop
Once you’ve picked up your pooch and have all the information you need from your veterinarian, it’s time to focus on family time, and start building those bonds of lasting friendship. Dogs are loyal and lovable creatures, with fairly simple needs. You’ll need to think about, and plan for, your dog’s diet, sleep habits, play and exercise regimens, and bathroom behavior. Yes, this means your life now revolves around the eating, sleeping, playing, and pooping habits of your new pal. Here are some considerations as you prepare your home for your new pup.

Eat
Fueling and feeding your furry friend really isn’t that complex, but it can seem daunting at first. The important things to have figured out are what to feed your dog (ahem, again, we might have some suggestions), and when to give them meals and snacks. Also, look around your home and decide where you’ll keep the bowls for food and water. If you have a full house, you might want to assign feeding the dog to specific individuals so the dog isn’t overfed or underfed, and be sure to clearly communicate what “people food” (if any) is okay for your pup to nibble. You’ll likely keep or make treats for your dog, so stock up on those, too.

Sleep
They say it’s a dog’s life, and if you’ve ever caught a dog napping in the sun while you grind away on a task or chore, you’d probably agree. It seems most dogs can sleep anywhere. Couch? Check. Human’s bed? Check. Human’s face? Check, check. Thinking ahead about where you’d like the dog to sleep at night, or even for naps, is a good practice. Some families are fine with co-sleeping, while others are interested in crate-training. Maybe you plan on snuggling with your pup on the couch, but want them to sleep overnight on a dog bed. A quick internet search will tell you that there are differing opinions about what’s best for a dog, so you’ll need to trust your gut and decide what’s going to work for you. Keep in mind, however, that trial and error is common, so don’t fret if your plan evolves along the way. In the end, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to ensure both canines and humans in your household get a good night’s sleep – though it may take a while for that to happen. Patience makes progress, like with most parts of dog ownership.

Play
Just like with humans, an active life is usually a healthier life. Making sure a dog has stimulus at home, and opportunities to run and roam outside, is crucial for most dogs. Sure, there are exceptions – if your dog has a medical condition you wouldn’t want to push them – but frequent exercise is really good for pups. Whether you’re taking your dog for walks around the neighborhood, or hitting up the off-leash dog park for some free play with other pups, your dog will be healthier for it. Think about where you can take your dog regularly, what times would work with your schedule, and if anyone else in your household can help out. In addition to walks and exercise, your dog will just want to play with you. There are countless toys on the market to entertain your dog, and we suggest stocking up on a couple so you can have fun together from day one.

Poop
Look, it happens. And with a dog it happens all the time. While this is arguably the least appealing part of dog ownership, having a plan for poop is a good idea. Will you train your pup to go outside, in a certain part of your home on a mat, on walks? Head to the internet for tons of advice, theories, and cautionary tales about training your dog to handle its business in a place other than your closet. If you are going to train your pup to poop outside, and not in your backyard, please remember to pack a bag for easy clean-up. The swift, one-handed plastic-baggie pick-up is an art you’ll learn quickly, we promise… and your fellow pedestrians will thank you.

What else did you do to prepare for bringing home your pup? Tell us your best tips in the comments below!