While there’s plenty of joy coming home to wiggly greetings and excited kisses, the first few days can be slightly confusing as your newest family member gets used to all the strange sights, unfamiliar smells and new humans.
That’s why having a game plan to prepare your family is crucial.
- Match personalities
- House prep
- First day
- Lifestyle breeds
Find the right personality for your pack
Bringing home the perfect dog for your family comes down to finding the right personality.And thatmeans getting a dog with an energy level that’s equal to or slightly less than your own.
You’ll also want to consider breed, size, temperament, and any family allergies before you head to the rescue shelter and wind up wanting to rescue all of them.
While it’s important to consider the traits that’ll complement your family, try not to have tunnel vision because any dog can turn your head.
You may find a mellow boxer with whom you feel an instant connection when you had planned on getting a pug. Or, you might fall in love with an older dog when you originally set out for a puppy.
While a breed's temperament may give you a general idea, each dog has a unique personality that you should experience firsthand before making a final decision.
After you’ve made a connection with the lucky pup, be sure to introduce all family members (that includes the four-legged ones, too). Many adoption organizers will even allow perspective pet parents to bring the dog home for a night or two to see how everyone gets along.
It’s also important to know who the primary caretaker will be before you adopt.
Get your house in order
Once you’ve found “The One,” it’s important to create a safe space your new pup can call his own. If Fido’s feeling anxious, he should be able to retreat to his stress-free zone for a mid-day nap without the kids running around and vying for his attention.
Time his arrival as well. Arrange to bring your new pal home on the weekend or when someone will consistently be home to ease his transition and keep a watchful eye on him.
Stock up on food, toys, bedding, a roomy crate and cleaning supplies to make your life easier those first days. Even with perfect planning you’re bound to buy a few things you didn’t plan on; after all, your puppy really needs that squirrel-shaped squeaky toy.
Depending on the breed, size and age of your new pup, try food that’s designed to give him adequate nutrition throughout his life, but don’t mess with his feeding schedule right away; try to stick to the mealtime he’s been used to.
Your first day together
Settling into a new environment can be stressful, and while your pup may be transitioning to a better home, it’s important to make him feel safe and welcome. During the first few days, try to avoid stressful situations or over-stimulation.
While it may be hard to contain the excitement of having a new family member, it’ll help Fido feel more secure in his new home.
Be sure to properly introduce him to other family members in a calm and neutral setting. If you already have pets at home, make sure they’re current on vaccinations before they meet the new dog. Within a week of his adoption, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup and any required vaccinations, as well.
House-training begins right away, so reward and reinforce good behavior from the start; he’ll certainly appreciate the treats!
Walk him through every room and show him where it’s appropriate to relieve himself outside to enforce the habit.
From his first night’s sleep to his first “accident,” sticking to a training program is important for his development, so be patient.
Bringing home a new puppy or dog is truly rewarding, but remember the responsibilities. Be sure your whole family is prepared to welcome a new member with the right equipment, training techniques and attitude.
Once everyone is on the same page, you’ll be well on your way to days full of smiles and new, unwavering friendship.
Breeds to fit your lifestyle
- Are you a fitness fanatic who loves to be on the go? Consider a Vizsla, Weimaraner or Border collie.
- Have a family with young children? Go for a tolerant breed like a St. Bernard, Beagle or Labrador.
- Are you a laissez-faire kind of leader? An independent breed like a Chinese Shar-Pei, Boston Terrier or Bullmastiff tolerates being alone relatively well – but remember that dogs are pack animals and they crave companionship!
- New doggie pet parent? Choose a breed that is good for novice parents like a golden retriever, puggle (a cross between a pug and a beagle) or Havanese.
- Live in a small apartment? While dogs need to get plenty of exercise, choose a breed that’s okay with being a couch potato throughout the day like a Bulldog or Shih Tzu.
- Want a pup who’s extremely smart and loves working? Consider an Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd or a Doberman Pinscher.