When you're about to welcome a new member into your family, you put a lot of effort into preparing your home. Even if your newest addition has four legs instead of two, you want to make sure your house is ready.
"Dogs don't come knowing the rules. They don't know they shouldn't chew on the expensive Chinese fern you have sitting in your dining room," says Patricia McConnell, PhD. She's a certified applied animal behaviorist and author of Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog Into Your Home. "Just as you would for an infant, you need to put yourself in your dog's paws and look at the house from their perspective."
Before you bring your new pet home, here are a few things you can do to prepare.
Dogs don't have hands. They explore their world with their mouths. So anything you don't want licked, chewed, or eaten needs to be put away before your new dog arrives. That includes household items that can be risky to pets, such as:
- Cleaning products and lawn chemicals
- Pest control products
- Human medicines
- Poisonous plants, including azaleas, some lilies, daffodils, buttercups, and hyacinths
- Toys with small parts (dogs can choke on them, just like babies)
Replace these doggie no-no's with items that are safe for your dog to explore. "Just like we give babies teething rings, we need to give dogs oral outlets for them to chew on," says Meghan Herron, DVM, DACVB. She's an assistant professor of behavioral medicine in the department of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University. She suggests stocking up on rubber chew toys and stuffed animals that you don't mind your dog tearing apart.
As excited as you are about your new pet, you don't need to splurge and buy every trendy accessory on the market. These basics are all you'll need:
Crate. Crate training will prevent your new puppy from using your dining-room table leg as a bathroom when you can't keep an eye on him. The crate should be at least big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. Buy one that's a little bigger so he can grow into it.
Collar and leash. The collar doesn't need to be diamond-studded. Your dog won't know the difference. "Just a regular flat buckle collar -- something that has a secure ring that can hold a rabies tag, ID, and license," Herron says.
Bed. Again, nothing fancy is needed. You just want a cozy space where your dog can feel comfortable and secure.