Written by Dr. Cariann Turbeville

Introducing a new dog to your home can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s also important to make sure that you’re prepared for the challenge. In this article, we provide some tips for introducing a new dog to your home, as well as how to ensure a smooth transition for all members of the family. So whether you’re a first-time dog owner or just looking for ways to welcome a new furry friend into your life, read on for some helpful advice.

Vaccinations

When should you take your new dog to get shots? And which shots are needed?
Scheduling a veterinary appointment within a couple of weeks of adopting a dog, regardless of the dog’s age, is always strongly recommended.

During this first visit, your veterinarian reviews your new pet’s records and determines the best vaccine regimen for their unique needs and lifestyle. It’s important for all dogs to get the rabies vaccine (also required by law), and the distemper vaccine, which usually includes vaccination against canine distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.

Depending on your pet’s lifestyle, other vaccines may be recommended. These could include canine influenza, bordetella, and vaccinations to protect against lyme disease, leptospirosis infections. And there’s even a rattlesnake vaccine!

What should I feed my new dog?

The gradual transition from your pet’s previous food to the new food you choose is important to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset. This transition should be made slowly over about 7-10 days.

Avoid grain-free and raw diets

It’s best to avoid “grain-free” diets as these diets have a possible link to early heart disease in dogs. Also avoid raw meat diets. Raw diets pose a significant risk to dogs and pet parents alike.

Look for AAFCO

Make sure the food you choose is “AAFCO” standardized. This means that the food has been certified to meet all your dog’s nutrient requirements without any necessary supplementation. Talk to your vet if your pet has gastrointestinal symptoms following adoption such as diarrhea, vomiting, or inappetence. Your veterinarian can help differentiate between a true food-related issue versus a parasitic infestation or another systemic disease.

Where should my dog sleep at night?

For both your new pet’s comfort and your rest (not to mention, your sanity!), start with an intentional sleep training plan beginning the very first night.

Crate training

Crate training can be very helpful in the early stages, especially with a puppy. It helps them both sleep through the night and not beg to get into the bed with you. Additionally crate training helps to potty train your pup more effectively through the night hours.

Potty training at night

If your new puppy whines at night, he or she may truly need a trip out the bathroom. But resist falling for it all night long. Responding to every peep from your new pet will only train them to keep interrupting your sleep. Try to avoid calming chews and other supplements unless absolutely necessary and recommended by your veterinarian.

How to house train a new dog

House training a new dog is an important part of pet ownership. The process can take several weeks to several months, depending on the age, breed and personality of your dog. However, the key is to start early. Puppies need to go after eating and after waking up. So take them out to an appropriate spot, either on a puppy pad or in the yard. Take them out immediately after waking up, and about 15 minutes after they finish eating. Your dog should pick up the routine relatively quickly. Be on the lookout for urinary tract infections or digestive issues – either of these conditions could cause setbacks.

How to engage a new dog with toys

Play is important for your dog for many reasons. Engaging your dog with dog toys and games will help them burn off energy, stay mentally stimulated, and bond with you.

Choosing the right dog toys

There’s an abundance of dog toys on the market, so it’s important to choose those that are appropriate for your dog’s size, age, and energy level. Choose toys that are non-toxic, well-made and that do not present a choking hazard.

Smaller dogs may enjoy plush toys or chew toys. While larger dogs may prefer more interactive toys such as ball launchers or tug toys. You can also use dog toys to teach your dog obedience commands or tricks. And of course, playing with your dog is also a great way to build a bond between the two of you. So set aside some time each day to play with your new furry friend.

How do I teach my dog to play fetch?

First, it’s important to note that different dogs prefer different activities. And therefore, not all dogs like to play fetch. However, if you are interested in playing fetch with your dog, do the following:

  • Start by introducing the object to them.
  • Hold it in front of them, let them sniff it, and get acquainted with it.
  • If your dog seems interested in the item, roll or toss it a few feet away and see if they go after it.
  • If they go after the object, praise them for it and repeat the process.
  • Then, encourage them to bring it back to you.

Your dog may not get it right away, so be patient. Some dogs are more interested in chasing and will gladly bring the object back so you can throw it again. Other dogs are into the capture only. Once you toss it, they will go after it. But once they catch it, the game is over for them, and you’ll be the one fetching!

Dog park safety – what to know before you go

Before heading to the dog park with your new furry friend, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to ensure a safe and fun time for both of you.

  • Vaccination. Make sure your dog is fully vaccinated (at least 3 sets of shots by the age of 16 weeks of age) before even thinking about taking your dog to a dog park.
  • Socialization. Be sure that your dog is well socialized. Getting them around other dogs early in life (age 16 weeks and older) can help with this.
  • Check the occupancy. Be aware of the dog-to-human ratio. If the dog park is too crowded, it can be overwhelming for your dog and increase the risk of an altercation. When starting out, it’s best to visit during off-peak hours or choose a less popular dog park.
  • Body language. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language. If your dog is feeling anxious or stressed, it’s best to leave the dog park and try again another day.
  • Watch out for signs of aggression such as growling, stiff body language, or hackles raised along the back.
  • Water. Be sure to bring fresh water for your dog and take breaks often to avoid heat exhaustion.
  • Clean up. Remember to clean up after your dog! Pick up any waste and dispose of it properly.
  • Dogs with anxiety. If your dog has severe anxiety in new situations, dog parks may not be appropriate. Instead, do slow one-on-one meetings with other dogs. That way you’ll get them used to a single dog at a time.

At the dog park

New dog owners wonder if there are certain procedures for taking the dog into the dog park or if they should just walk in and see what happens. Let’s dive deeper.

Unleashed areas

If you’re unsure how your dog will respond while at a dog park, stand outside the unleashed area and see how your dog reacts. Do this for up to five minutes to get them acclimated to what’s going on.

When you enter the unleashed area, keep the leash on your dog. Other dogs will want to greet your pup, but keeping a leash on your dog can be helpful if you need to pull your dog away quickly should an unwanted situation happen.

After your dog is comfortable with what’s going on and they seem eager to play, let them off-leash, but always watch your dog while they’re playing. Accidents happen. Be aware – you’ll need to know what’s going on to be able to help your pooch if need be. By following these simple tips, you and your dog can enjoy a fun and safe visit to the dog park.

Have more questions?

Bringing a new dog into your home can be an exciting and challenging experience. You’ll need to think about a lot of things: their health, how to feed them, where they will sleep and how to create a bond through exercise and play. If you have any questions about caring for your new pup, don’t hesitate to contact us at Airvet – we’re always here to help!

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