You’ve done it! You’ve convinced your partner that it’s time to adopt a dog or puppy. Congratulations!
But the decision to bring a dog into the house is just the beginning. Now begins a relationship that will last for years between you and a completely different species, so it’s essential that you give your relationship the best start possible. Even the best-case adoption scenario will require some adjustment and learning, so the more prepared you are, the easier the transition will be for both you and your new best friend.
If you’re ready to start the dog days right, here are remember the four P’s:
All members of the household should be involved in the pup-plan so that everyone’s on the same page. It’s so much easier to decide whether or not your dog will be allowed on the couch before he comes home than when he hops up there and looks so cute. Make your house rules before Sir Cuteness arrives and ensure that everyone is on board. Include in your plan:
- The timing for things like potty breaks, walks, and feeding. Canine pals do better on a schedule, and a feeding schedule will make a potty schedule much easier.
- The new lingo. Sure, probably everyone will know that you should say “sit” when you want the pup’s rump on the floor, but what about for other things? Make sure everyone agrees to the same command terms to make training easier for your dog, and choose the simplest terms that make sense.
- Carve out some time in your schedule. Dogs will always require a lot of time, especially true for puppies, and even a trained, housebroken dog will need time to adjust to new surroundings and new people. Make sure you’re there to reassure him and start the bonding process as he adjusts to his new life.
- Ideally, you will research breeds before you make the decision to adopt, but if you’re already heading down that path, make sure you know as much as the breeds you’re interested in (or about to bring home) as possible. Knowledge is power!
- Scope out a local veterinarian and, if your dog is coming home soon, get a checkup scheduled! If your pet won’t already be spayed or neutered, get that on the schedule sooner rather than later.
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Hooray! Doggo will be joining your family very soon! Your plan is in place and the whole family is excited! But, even if you already have pets in the house, it’s not time to bring the new one home until you’ve done some basic prep:
- Get all the supplies. Make sure you have the basics like food, water, leash, collar, chew toys, a crate, treats (for training) and a comfy doggy bed.
- Pet-proof your house. You plan to love your pup the minute he bounds through your door, but it will be more challenging if he chews up your laptop cord in the first five minutes. Clear your house of temptations until you better understand his behaviors.
- Pet-proofing also means removing any dangerous chemicals or cleaners from where your pup could find them, removing poisonous (or potentially messy) plants, and escape-proofing your yard.
- Pet-prep. If you have pets already, make sure they are up-to-date on shots in case your new dog comes home with a virus. Your current pets should also be in good general health so they don’t share anything with the new guy.
- Prepare a place. Crate training is recommended because it makes the most of a dog’s denning instinct—a crate feels like their own cozy little den. Crate training will also keep your dog safe and out of trouble while you’re away. So prep a crate or at least make sure your dog has a space of his own. Set up an area with a bed, water and food bowls, and of course some special dog toys.
In reality, probably the hardest “P’s” of pet ownership are pee and poop. Where and when your pup decides to take care of business can be a big source of stress, so make a plan before frustration begins. Check out our puppy housebreaking guide, load up on potty supplies like pee pads, poop bags, and deodorizing cleaner, and make sure all members of your household know the potty-training plan. Finally, remember that punishing your pet for accidents isn’t going to help him learn.
It’s not uncommon to have some post-adoption regrets. Bringing a dog into the house is a big change, and you should expect some tough emotions and even some second guessing. It may take two days for you and your pet to find your groove, or it may take two months. Play the long game and tell yourself it’s OK if not everything goes smoothly right away.
Be patient with your pet, too. Not every dog is as quick on the uptake as Lassie, so be patient if things aren’t clicking right away. But don’t expect your dog to read your mind—make sure you’re informed on proper training methods, and get you and your dog to obedience classes as soon as possible. Even epic patience will wear thin if your dog doesn’t get good training.
Still up for it? Then it’s time to visit your local shelter or responsible breeder and find the very best dog in the whole world—yours!
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.
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