There are few things more fun or satisfying than bringing home a new dog (this, of course, coming from a veterinarian with 10 pets at home!).  Here are some essentials—words of wisdom from the wise.

1. Prepare!  Make sure you’ve done your homework.  Have you identified which breeds might work best for your family and lifestyle?  We’re talking about a living, breathing creature which is going to need some work, and a fair amount of attention (at least at the beginning).  Large vs medium vs small;  active vs more sedentary; long coat vs short; purebred vs a rescued mutt (my choice).

2. Do you have everything you need? Bed, toys, food, crate or play pen, water and food bowls, wee-wee pads (trust me—there will be accidents), Fi activity monitor/GPS collar, harness and leash, etc.  If possible, at the beginning, try to feed the same food your dog was being fed at the breeder, shelter, or rescue to minimize problems with diarrhea.  Don’t forget the quick “once-around” the house to make sure you’ve covered or removed anything that could be dangerous or toxic.  A training guide wouldn’t be a bad idea!!

3. Make a point to get all the prior records of vaccines, deworming or other medical treatments, microchip information (if chipped). Depending on age and vaccine status, you want to avoid, or at lease minimize any contact with other dogs you don’t know until you check with your veterinarian.  If you already have a resident dog at home, make sure he/she is up-to-date on vaccines.  Have your new dog seen by your vet sooner rather than later.

4. At first, try to minimize commotion—the new dog will probably be nervous or anxious already just by coming into a new home.  Let him sniff around and explore (of course, while you’re monitoring every move he or she makes).  You don’t want to frighten him/her too much on the first day.  It might be a good idea to limit the number of rooms you allow access to, get him/her comfortable, then slowly allow access to more of the home.

5. If you do already have a resident dog, make sure to introduce your new dog slowly and controlled.  Do not force either one onto each other—slow and easy is the key.  One mistake many make is not giving the right attention to the right dog at the right time!  For fear of creating jealousy or resentment, many, who might feel badly or a bit guilty by bringing home a new dog concerned that the resident dog might feel like he’s being replaced, make a huge mistake of showering the resident dog with love, attention, affection, and treats while the new dog is sleeping.  By doing that, you’re conditioning the resident dog to feel that life IS better without that new dog around!  What you should be doing is showing more attention, and giving positive reward to the resident dog when the new dog is around preferably in the same room, and holding back on the attention and treats when the new dog is asleep or in its crate.  That way the resident dog will see that life is better when the new dog is around.

6. Be patient! Though it may be a little rough at first, once the dust settles it will all be worth it.  There’s nothing like a house with pets!