Are you thinking about adopting a dog? Congratulations! While adopting a new dog should be fun, it's still a little overwhelming to bring in a new family member - especially if you're the one doing all the work. It can also be stressful for your existing pets. While some stress is unavoidable, here are a few suggestions to
Help dog adoption go as smoothly as possible.
Don't expect the new dog to be perfectly housebroken.
Your new dog may or may not be potty trained. Even if someone from the shelter or rescue group told you the dog never has accidents, that doesn't necessarily mean the dog won't have accidents at your house. To set your dog up for success, take him outside right away when you get home and at least every hour or so that first day (or longer) until you are confident he is housebroken.
Buy all the necessary supplies ahead of time.
Stock up with some appropriate dog chews, treats and toys. Your new dog might not be much of a chewer, but it's best to provide her with some appropriate chewing options just in case. You'll also want her to have something to do when she's left alone in his kennel.
Purchase a collar and leash ahead of time, but also make sure to buy personalized dog tags. Sometimes dog owners put this off until they've had their new dog for a few days. Instead, have the tags ready for your dog right away. You never know what can happen. If your dog gets lost, she won't be familiar with your neighborhood yet, and she might not find her way home.
Stick to a routine.
A consistent routine can go a long way for helping a new dog feel more comfortable. He should have a place for his food and water, and a place for his bed or kennel. He should know when to expect a walk and when he will get fed. Life is just less stressful for us all when it's somewhat predictable, right?
Sign up for an obedience class.
This is a great way to start bonding with your dog by working together. It's also a good way to see where your dog is at as far as obedience skills and socialization around other dogs. If the dog doesn't seem very well socialized, the trainer should be able to give you some suggestions. The same is true if you are having any other behavioral problems with the dog.
Expect some minor issues between pets.
Make sure to introduce the new dog to your existing animals slowly. Even if you were told the new dog does well with other dogs, that doesn't mean she will hit it off with your dog right away. It's best to introduce the dogs outside on a walk to prevent them from meeting head on with direct eye contact. If the dogs do OK walking side by side, the chances are better they will also do OK in the yard or in the house.
Crates or at least baby gates work well for blocking off certain areas of the house. Your existing pets may be feeling overwhelmed, and they may want a break from the new dog. If you have cats, make sure to keep the new dog on a leash at first so she's not tempted to chase them. Even "cat friendly" dogs are sometimes tempted to chase a cat they haven't met before.
Have you adopted a dog recently? What tips do you have to make this process easier for others?