How to Get Ready to Adopt Your First Dog

Are you thinking of adding to your family? No, we’re not talking about babies — we’re talking about dogs! Dogs are a wonderful addition to any household, but bringing one home shouldn’t be an impulse decision. Here’s what you need to do before you adopt your first four-legged friend.

Know What You Want

Not all dogs are the same — far from it! Even across a single breed, individual dogs have unique personalities and preferences. However, breeds are useful for determining typical traits. For example, while hunting breeds tend to be athletic and high-energy, dogs bred for companionship are more likely to be laid-back snugglers.

Before you start searching for a dog, consider how a dog fits into your lifestyle.  Do you want a buddy for outdoor adventures, a lap dog for company at home, or something in between? Once you understand your wants and capacity to care for a pet, make a list of breeds that fit your vision. Since many rescue dogs are mixes of two or more breeds, stick to breed groups rather than setting your sights on a specific breed.

Don’t forget to consider age. Puppies are popular but require much more training than adult dogs. Unless there’s someone home all day, it’s difficult to find time to train a puppy. Older dogs may have fewer years to spend with your family, but they’re often house-broken and already have some training.

If you’re thinking about getting a dog but aren’t sure what type of dog is the right fit for your family, consider fostering. When you foster, you provide temporary housing and care for homeless dogs while a rescue group searches for a permanent home. It’s a great way to get experience with dogs of different ages, breeds and temperaments while also doing well.

Get Your House Ready

Before you bring your dog home, you need to buy the right supplies. Dog bowls, leashes and treats might seem straightforward, but there are important nuances to be aware of.

While collars are a good way to keep ID tags attached to your dog, they’re not ideal for walking. Harnesses are more comfortable for active dogs, while dog strollers are great way to get elderly dogs

 

 out for fresh air. And although most dogs will be just fine with the standard stainless steel food dish, breeds prone to bloat and overweight dogs benefit from slow feeder bowls. New dog owners should also be aware that some popular treats such as bones can actually be dangerous for dogs.

In addition to these supplies, prepare your home with a comfy dog bed and crate. Even if you allow your dog to free-roam, it’s good practice to kennel-train to reduce anxiety when crate confinement is necessary.

Finally, don’t forget to dog-proof. There are a lot of hidden hazards around your home, but a thorough dog-proofing keeps your dog safe. Use Whistle’s room-by-room guide to get your house ready for its new addition.

Have a Plan

Life with dogs can be blissful, but it rarely starts out that way. Rescue pets in particular may be anxious about moving to a new home, but also there are things you can do to make the transition easier for everyone.

Set your dog up in a quiet place for the first few days and don’t overwhelm him with attention. A new house is stressful enough without piling stimulation on top of it! Keep your schedule free so you can work on basic training. Even a well-trained dog may need to brush up on his skills after joining a new family.