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Adopting a dog is a lifelong commitment, at least for the duration of your pup’s life. Getting to know your pooch can be exciting and scary, especially if you’re a new pet owner. However, don’t be intimidated. Each day may bring unique struggles until your pup is trained, but this trying time is the perfect opportunity to start and grow a meaningful bond.

Preparing for your dog’s arrival and making changes once your new buddy moves in are essential in ensuring your sanity and your pup’s happiness. Here are seven tips to help you get through this transition period with ease.

1. Find the Right Dog for You

Before making any final decisions, research the best dog breed suited for your needs. If you have small children, look for a friendly yet tolerant pup since kids can sometimes be a little too rough. It should also be affectionate and loyal. Poodles and labrador retrievers often make good choices.

However, if you’re adopting from a shelter, a mixed breed may also make a great pet. Make sure you ask questions and visit the dog to evaluate its temperament before settling.

Alternatively, you may be looking for a guard dog. These pups can detect hazards and attack potential intruders to keep you safe. Of course, these dogs need extra training, which you can learn online on youtube from people such as Zak George.  Border collies and German shepherds are two standard picks, but remember that it depends on more than just the breed. Each dog has an individual personality, which may or may not suit your needs.

Another thing to consider is whether your city or neighborhood has restrictions on breeds you’re allowed to own. Also, if you rent, review the lease agreement before adopting. It’s unfair to the dog to get it and have to return it because you didn’t check into this pertinent information beforehand.

2. Buy Necessities Before You Get Your Dog

After choosing the pooch you want, start buying the things it will need before bringing it home. You’ll want to make your new dog feel as comfortable as possible since it will be in an unfamiliar environment. Necessities you may need are a bed, a crate, bowls, toys, treats, a collar and a leash.

When choosing food, look for high-quality options that will meet your dog’s nutritional needs. Keep in mind that good food isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it as it’s better for your pooch. Make sure you ask the previous owner or shelter which food they were using, as you’ll want to slowly transition to the new food so your pup doesn’t get an upset stomach from switching too quickly.

3. Prepare Your Home

Puppy-proofing your house is similar to preparing for a child’s arrival. Your goal should be to keep anything dangerous out of reach. Older dogs will probably be less of a concern than younger ones, but it’s best to take precautions since you don’t know how your pup will react in its new environment.

Start by making sure to unplug or hide electrical cords to avoid your pup getting shocked or worse. Also, keep cleaning supplies, medications and food in higher cabinets and put the trash in a can with a latching lid or in a garage. If your pooch gets into the trash, it’s liable to eat something that could make it sick or cause it to choke. Additionally, take an inventory of your plants and look into whether any are poisonous to pets. To keep your pooch safe, either get rid of these plants or put them in a room your dog isn’t allowed into.

It’s also critical to make changes to your yard so your dog can go outside to play. If you want to let your pooch out without a leash, fence your yard in. Otherwise, your pup may get hit by a car or stolen. Make sure to get a fence that’s tall enough so your dog won’t be able to jump it.

If you have anything your dog shouldn’t get into, such as a pool or garden, put a gate around that area. While most dogs love to swim, they should only be allowed to with proper supervision.

4. Limit Where Your Dog Can Roam

Don’t let your pooch explore the entire house upon its arrival. Give it a few rooms to investigate, and stick by its side to monitor its behavior. If you catch it chewing on carpeting or shoes, you’ll be able to put a stop to it right away as well as limit bathroom accidents.

Since your pup is sure to be nervous, provide it with a place to relax and de-stress. Perhaps you plan to have a room with its crate, a comfortable bed and a blanket. Encourage your dog to check that area out so it can rest if it’s feeling overwhelmed. This safe space will help your dog get comfortable in its new surroundings.

5. Find a Trustworthy Veterinarian

After your dog starts to get comfortable around you, look into highly favored vets around your area. A visit shortly after the adoption is recommended to ensure your pet is healthy and gets used to going. Trained staff can find underlying conditions through blood work and physical examinations. If found early, most issues can be effectively treated.

Your vet will also want to give your pup any shots or vaccinations it needs to be up to date. This process will require medical records, so make sure to ask the previous owner for this information.

The staff will advise you on issues, including your pet’s diet and flea and tick medication. Write down any other questions or concerns you may have so you don’t forget to discuss these items with your vet.

6. Work on Training

Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, training is essential and can be performed at any age. It not only ensures your pup obeys you, but it also strengthens your bond, and it aids in the mental stimulation dogs need to thrive.

While humans view certain behaviors as “bad,” such as digging or chewing, these acts are natural for dogs. They don’t know that people find them undesirable unless they are taught, which is where the benefits of training come into play. If your pup chews up its toy, it will think that tearing up your shoes is acceptable unless you instruct it otherwise.

Positive reinforcement is the preferred way to teach a dog. To carry this training out accurately, you must reward your pooch for something it did correctly. For instance, if it came when you called, give it attention, praise or a treat. Consistency is key. Everyone in the household has to commit and use the same cues every time, or your dog may get confused.

For unwanted behaviors, avoid giving your dog the attention it wants. For example, your pooch will be excited to see you when you get home from work and will naturally jump up. Although you’ll be equally as excited and want to pet it, ignore your pup to discourage this behavior. Either stand still or turn your back to your dog until it calms down. If you teach your dog the command “sit,” it will listen, and you can bend to its level to give it the attention you’re both yearning for.

Training takes time and patience, but don’t give up. With some hard work and dedication, you’ll have a dog that listens to your commands in no time.

7. Find a Dog Daycare or Pet Sitter

If you have to travel for business or are away for several hours each day, consider investing in doggy daycare or a pet sitter. Taking your pooch to daycare during the day can alleviate your pet’s stress, loneliness or boredom. It can also give you peace of mind knowing that your pal isn’t getting into any trouble at home, and it has people and other dogs to play with.

Similarly, a pet sitter can be beneficial because your dog doesn’t have to spend the day alone. As a bonus, your pup won’t have to leave the comfort of your home, as the sitter will come to your house.

Either option is a good choice if you want to keep your pet occupied. Extra attention is particularly important for dogs that suffer from anxiety, have health problems, are on diet restrictions or take medications. It never hurts to have an additional set of hands to take care of your dog when you’re unable to due to other responsibilities.

Whichever you choose, make sure you meet with the company and check into references before allowing them to take care of your pet. You’ll want to find an honest company you can trust. Also, after you make a decision, take your pet to meet whoever will be taking care of it. This process will help ease your pup’s stress.

Taking the time to prepare for your new dog and giving it the attention and training it needs will give you a lifelong friend. Remember that the transition is new to both of you, so be patient and have fun bonding during this period. A few months down the road, your relationship with your dog will have grown into a meaningful one.

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