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Dog Adoption Starter Kit

Adopting a dog requires a caring home introduction and considerations for the long run.

You are adopting a dog. Good for you. Bringing a puppy or shelter dog into your home is such a happy experience. But before you open the door to introduce your new family member to a lifetime of happiness, make sure you are ready. Preparation will help put your dog at ease when it arrives home and eventually for it to feel at home. It is a new family member, and moving is stressful, so give it some love!

Before Your Pooch Arrives Home

  • Dog-proof Your Home: You probably have a good idea of where your new bestie will spend most of their time. If not, think about that while assessing the potential hazards to your dog and the value of the items in the provided space. Unattended dogs tend to explore and get into things, including plants, cleaning supplies, and trash bins. Some like to chew, which puts your pup into harm’s way around a power cord and perhaps into trouble around a pair of shoes or the stuffing of a favorite pillow. With latches, weights, covers, baby gates, and furniture rearrangements, make inaccessible everything that can harm your dog or cause anyone grief if something is damaged.
  • Pet Carrier or Travel Harness: Getting your new pal home is a big deal. A pet carrier is suitable for securing small dogs, and a travel harness is an effective option to restrain and secure all dog sizes.
  • Crate: A crate-trained dog does not feel imprisoned in a crate, it feels safe and secure. If you plan to crate train your dog, make sure you have one set up and ready for your new pal. It must be large enough for your dog to comfortably lie down, turn around, and stand up, but not so big to serve as a doggie bathroom.
  • Collar & Leash: The shelter or rescue center may provide you with a collar but get a sturdy collar and leash you like that will fit your dog comfortably.
  • Dog Tags & Microchips: When your pal finds a way to get lost, he will need help finding a way home. For extra safety, ensure your pup is either microchipped or has an ID tag with your contact information. Or both!
  • Food & Water Bowls: Your dog will get to know these intimately, so get suitable sizes for your dog. Also, do yourself a favor and get ceramic or stainless-steel bowls. They are easier to clean than plastic and are less likely to grow bacteria.
  • Bed: Do you like snuggling into your bed? A dog likes its bed, too, one to sleep in, lounge on, and retreat to whenever it needs a break.
  • Food: A puppy and a mature dog have different nutritional needs. Even so, not every puppy and mature dog has the same nutritional needs as the next puppy and mature dog. Also, small breed dogs have different nutritional needs than large breed dogs, and a dog’s nutritional needs vary as it ages. Fortunately, most dog food brands carry specially formulated puppy foods that address each stage of a puppy’s growth. For mature dogs, same story: the food available at your local pet, grocery store, or here at Murdoch’s, is formulated to fit your dog’s life stage. Ask your vet if you have questions about the best food to feed your dog.
  • Poop Bags: Yeah, you know! Dog walks and play parks, they say “go” to a dog in more ways than one. Picking up dog poop is a responsibility that helps maintain a sanitary community and is also the right thing to do. Waste bags that will not leak or tear are your friend.
  • Treats: Welcome your dog home with healthy treats that will also serve long-term to reward your dog and reinforce good behavior.

When Your Dog Gets Home

  • Meeting the Family: Remain calm. As excited as your family is to meet the new family member, the sights and sounds of a new place can overwhelm the dog. Keep your dog leashed and lead it on a room-to-room tour of the house and then around the yard. Back inside, introduce the dog to the food and water bowls, and offer a treat. Then show your dog its bed, where you can let it off the leash, which gives it the go-ahead to start exploring from its “home” base.
  • Gaining Trust: Your new dog may have trust issues, depending on its past experiences. To gain trust, always remain calm and consistent in your reactions. Feel free to offer treats as rewards for good behavior. Snuggles, brushing its fur, and welcoming language can also serve as rewards. However, if your dog has anxiety and acts out with aggression, you might need support from a professional to help your dog find the trust it needs.
  • Wellness Exam: When your dog has settled into your home, schedule a wellness exam at a veterinarian. Vet visits will be part of your dog’s life, so consider the first visit an opportunity for you and your dog to become familiar with the clinic and the vets, and to show your dog that a vet visit is a positive experience.
    • During the first visit, the vet will have the opportunity to get to know your dog. The vet will review its medical history, conduct a thorough examination, talk to you about the type of lifestyle your dog will lead, and discuss dental cleaning, vaccine recommendations, and parasite prevention like flea and tick control. An informed vet can better let you know how to take care of your new bestie, including food recommendations, home-adjustment ideas, and any specific diagnostic tests your dog may need.
    • If your dog is not spayed or neutered, and you would like it to be, your first vet visit is an excellent time to talk to your vet about the procedure and schedule one.

For the Future

  • Be Patient: The plan is for your new dog to be safe, welcomed, and loved as quickly as possible in its new home. Give it time to adjust to the new smells, noises, and stuff. Provide lots of attention, which will help you get to know and enjoy each other. If you have other pets, they deserve attention, too, so spread the love and let everyone know they are all family.