Preparing for Your New Puppy or Dog
Getting a new dog or puppy is an exciting time! It is a decision that should be thought about carefully and then prepared for prior to bringing your new family member home. Your new dog or puppy is going to look for you to be his leader. By nature, dogs are social animals and like to be part of a group, but that group must have a leader. That leader must be you in order to maintain order.
Your dog is going to depend on you to manage the following aspects of his care: Safety: A secure area so your dog cannot escape outdoors. Make sure your dog is on a leash when needed. Maintain a safe home environment. Always have an I.D. on your dog’s collar and be sure your dog is microchipped and registered.
- Medical Care: Ensure he is up-to-date on all vaccinations, wellness exams, heartworm prevention, and blood work as recommended. You are responsible for being watchful of changes to his health and routine grooming.
- Social Skills/Manners: Training and socialization are essential for your new dog and puppy.
- Order in the Home: It is your responsibility to maintain order in your home. If your dog is destructive, i.e. chewing shoes, etc. put your shoes away and provides more appropriate mind-challenging toys for him to chew on. If he is getting into the trash, cover the trash, or put it into a cabinet with a child latch. A dog needs to be taught what is and is not appropriate behavior. They are not born or brought into a new home knowing these behaviors.
Preparing Your Home
In order to make the transition for your new family member as smooth as possible from his current location to your new home, there are some items you should think about and prepare for in advance.
Unlike humans, dogs eat the same food at each meal. A quick change in their diet can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. The best way to transition their food is to continue them on what they are currently eating and select what you would like to feed them, if you decide you want to change. We suggest only purchasing a small bag of the new food in case they don’t like it or have a reaction to it. We recommend feeding a high-quality, grain-free food vs. the cheaper grocery store brands. Feeding higher quality foods will help keep your dog healthier. Over a course of seven (7) days you will gradually decrease the amount of the current food and increase the amount of the new food. It is best to feed adult dogs (over 5 months of age) two times per day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Puppies under 5 months of age should be fed three to four times per day.
Crate training is a wonderful tool for you and your dog. A crate is an excellent way to house train a puppy or adult dog. Dogs do not like to soil where they sleep, and they instinctively like a small space to make them feel safe. A crate can also be used to provide a quiet restful place for your dog or puppy. It may also be helpful in the future if your pet has a medical issue that requires limited activity and rest. Your dog will already be used to the crate and spending time there will not be traumatic.
Purchasing the Correct Size Crate
It is important to purchase the correct size crate for your dog. You will want to purchase a crate that is large enough for your adult dog to stand up, turn around, and lay flat on his side for comfort. If you are purchasing a crate for a puppy, you can purchase a large crate with a divider that you can adjust as he grows. This link provides a guide to purchasing the right size crate for your adult dog: http://www.dog.com/content/pet-tips/measuring-your-dog-for-a-crate/.
Some dogs prefer the plastic airline style crates to the open wire style crates. If you are adopting an older dog and have a wire crate, and your dog doesn’t seem comfortable in the new wire crate, try covering it with a blanket to make it feel more like a den.
Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
You always want your dog to associate positive things with the crate. A crate should never be used as punishment! Some dogs may take longer to warm up to their crate than others. However, the process of introducing a dog to his crate is the same for all dogs. You just need to take the process slower for more fearful dogs. Keep the crate door open and be sure it will not hit your dog. Place a few treats just inside the crate and walk your dog over to the crate and in a happy voice encourage him to step inside. Praise him happily if he steps in and takes the treats. Next, place treats a little further back and encourage him to get those treats. Continue the process until you have placed the treats all the way at the back of the crate and your dog is willingly going in to retrieve the treats. The next step is to feed your dog his next meal in the crate with the door open so he can walk in and out at will. After several meals with the door open gently close the door while your dog is eating. After each feeding try leaving your dog in the crate for a few minutes, gradually increasing the time. If your dog starts whining, you have increased the time too quickly. The next time reduce it again. However, do not let your dog out until he stops whining, otherwise your dog will learn that whining is what gets him out of the crate.
It is important to practice increasing the amount of time your dog spends in his crate alone. Encourage your dog to use his crate with a treat and praise him for entering. Sit by the crate for a few minutes and then move into another room. When you return to let your dog out, sit quietly by the crate before letting him out. Remember, do not let your dog out if he is whining. Once you have increased the time to 30 minutes to 1 hour you can begin leaving your dog crated when you are gone for short periods of time.
Dogs need socialization and exercise. Adult dogs should not be forced to hold their bowels and bladders for long periods of time. Even four hours a day in a crate for an adult dog is a long period of time. We don’t recommend you crate your dog if you are going to be gone all day. Crating dogs and puppies, for as long as they will sleep at night, is acceptable, as long as you can hear them if they need to go out to go potty.
Puppies should not be crated for more than two hours at a time. They should not be neglected and forced to break their aversion to soiling their sleeping area. Additionally, if they are left alone and not socialized when young they can develop fears and aberrant behaviors of many kinds.
Again, a fearful dog may take days to train. Be patient. If you introduce your dog to the crate properly, your dog will eventually enter by himself and settle down.
When a Crate Should Not Be Used
A crate is not to be used as a place for punishment. You want your dog to be happy to go to his crate when you leave or when it’s time for bed. You do not want him to associate negative feelings with the crate. A crate should also not be used for a dog with severe separation anxiety. A dog with separation anxiety is often anxious and will try to chew his way out and may swallow parts of the crate or break or damage teeth trying to get out of his crate.
It is important that your dog is comfortable in the crate. Lay down a soft bed or blanket in the crate. During the house training stage, a bed that is easily washable is recommended. It’s also good to have a bed out of the crate that you can train your dog to go after he is house trained and want him to go and lie down and rest.
Importance of Play
Toys are an important part of your puppy’s development and your adult dog’s activity. Toys provide not only a way for your furry friend to have fun and get some exercise, but they provide many other benefits.
Why Pets Like to Play
Many dog breeds were bred for specific jobs, playing with toys and interacting with their human allows them to fulfill a new role. All dogs can be encouraged to play from puppies to adults with your interaction. It only takes you finding the right toy or game to get them excited. Don’t get discouraged it your adult dog doesn’t want to run for a ball, try a toy that dispenses treats and you may have found his new favorite toy!
Benefits of Play
There are several benefits of playing with your pet. Just as with humans, exercise helps keep your pet’s body and mind healthy. There is an unprecedented number of obese pets. Playing with your dog and a healthy diet is a way to prevent your dog from becoming obese. Playing with your dog also helps strengthen the bond with your dog. Another benefit of play is that it helps to reduce behavioral problems. If your dog has exercise he is less likely to be barking or chewing items he shouldn’t be chewing.
Encouraging Your Dog to Play
There are many ways to engage your dog to play. Sit on the floor and start tossing balls around to yourself. Trust me, your dog will become interested and want to join in the fun. When your dog brings a toy to you, reward him with praise and pets. Fill treat-dispensing toys if your dog is food motivated and have your dog seek them out. These toys are great for dogs that are solo players.
Rotate your dog’s toys on a daily or weekly basis to prevent him from becoming disinterested in his toys. If they don’t see a toy for a week or two, it’s like a new toy!
Transporting Your Dog
Restraining Your Dog
One of the primary responsibilities of owning a dog is maintaining his safety. This safety extends to transporting your dog in your vehicle. Your dog should be secured while you are driving at all times. Safety belt laws exist for humans for a reason and should exist for pets as well. If you stop suddenly your pet can easily go flying forward out of your arms and hit the windshield or fly out of an open window. If he is in the rear seat, he becomes a secondary projectile and can hit you causing additional injuries. We have all seen dogs with their head’s out the window enjoying the fresh air. This is another reason to secure your pet. Stray debris can damage your pet’s eyes, ears, mouth or face. Loose pets may also climb down on the floorboards and interfere with the gas and brake pedals. They may also become a distraction climbing on your lap causing you to lose focus. You should never drive with your dog in the back of a pick-up truck as he can be thrown from the back or jump out and be struck by another driver.
If you must take your dog with you, make sure he is properly restrained in a crate or a harness at all times. Harnesses are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at your local pet store or on Amazon.com, measure your pet according to the package instructions. You should NEVER restrain your dog by his collar, as he can choke to death or hang himself.
Every year hundreds of dogs die needlessly from heatstroke from being locked in closed cars. These unfortunate accidents could all have been avoided. Please, if you do not need to bring your dog with you, leave him at home.
The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit in only 10 minutes, and 30 degrees Fahrenheit in 20 minutes. This may not seem like much to you, but this is enough to cause serious injury and death to your four legged friend.
The following chart, courtesy of Jan Null; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University, details out the temperature changes at varying outdoor temperatures. Don’t think heat is the only deadly factor, your dog is just as at risk in the cold winter months to frostbite and hypothermia.