Congrats on your new four-legged friend! If you’re planning on getting a dog soon, be sure to check out our New Dog Shopping Checklist post as well. That post covers what gear you will need for your new pup, whereas this post covers new dog preparation in terms of dog-proofing your house, and finding important canine services.
Without further ado, here’s our New Dog Preparation Checklist!
Dog-Proofing Your Home
Much like having kids around the house, preparing for a dog requires scanning through your house for a variety of items and hazards that you may not have noticed before.
Do a sweep through your house or apartment for:
- Trip hazards, like electrical cords
- Stairs. If you have a puppy who is not used to stairs, an over-excitable dog, or want your dog to avoid a certain part of the house, get a safety gate to block off those areas.
- Dog-level surfaces (like coffee tables) where their tails might knock fragile items over, or where people might set food or drink. Likewise for dog-level trash bins that might contain tempting snacks.
- Chemicals and medicine that a dog could get into.
- Any clutter (like socks) that might be tempting for a dog to chew on.
- Plants that are poisonous to dogs. Click here for the ASPCA’s list.
You’ll also want to determine which parts of the house (if any) and what furniture is off-limits for the dog. Make sure that all humans in the house know these rules, so they can help enforce them, and not give your new dog confusing mixed signals
There are a number of human foods that are not okay for dogs to eat. Click here for our guide on what foods are dangerous, which are okay, and which are okay in small amounts. Share this information with your family or housemates to keep your pup safe.
You’ll need to do some outside planning as well. Dogs need outside space to use the bathroom, but also to run around and get exercise.
- If you have a yard, either consider fencing it in or getting a “tie-out” cable. Decide with your household what the supervision rules are for your dog being outside.
- If you do not have your own yard, scout out some areas for your dog to use the bathroom, and nearby parks or other places to play. Check out BringFido and Nylabone for pet-friendly locations near you.
What Information to Find Before You Bring Your Dog Home
You’ve got your gear, and you’ve prepped your home. Before you bring your new dog home, consider finding some of the dog services on this list, or at least scout them out. That way, you’ll be prepared when you need a vet, sitter, or groomer.
Find a Veterinarian
Of course, finding a vet is a crucial part of the new dog preparation process. Your vet will give your pup shots, heart-worm treatment, and spay or neuter your pet. Search on Google Maps or ask other dog owners what vet they recommend.
Consider getting your dog microchipped by your vet in addition to having dog tags on their collar. Microchipping makes it easier to reunite you and your pup, should they get lost.
There are also online vet services to that allow you to chat with a vet 24/7.
Hopefully, you will never need an emergency vet, but it’s better to find one before you need it. Similar to your dog’s regular vet, ask pet owners for recommendations. Then write down the contact info (and hours) of each vet somewhere convenient.
Register your dog with local authorities
Many cities and municipalities require dogs to be registered. This means that you show proof of rabies (or other) vaccinations, and pay a small fee.
Google “dog license [your city name here]” or ask your vet for help.
You have several options for dog sitters, ranging from local friends, family, and neighbors, to dog boarding services, to app-based pet sitting. Even if you have a pet sitter in mind, check out other options in case your pet sitter is busy and you need a backup.
If you need to bring your dog with you when you travel, know that some hotel chains, like La Quinta, allow dogs. Other hotels’ policies vary, and may or may not include an additional fee.
Some dogs have higher-maintenance fur than others. Pet stores often have a grooming department, or you might be able to find businesses that specialize solely in pet grooming.
Dog training classes
This isn’t just about teaching your dog tricks—dog training classes can help your dog be well-mannered during walks, sociable at the dog park, and also be a mentally stimulating experience for them. Your best bet is searching for local options by asking family and friends for recommendations. You can “interview” the top options to get an idea of their methodology, and what you can expect from a given class.
Like the rest of this post, pet insurance is about preparing now, so that you can spend your dog time with less worry. As such, you should consider pet insurance and see if it’s right for your budget. Pet insurance allows you to pay a monthly fee to cover any unexpected vet bills, and to get access to a larger network of veterinary care.
You’re Ready to Bring Your Dog Home!
We hope this new dog checklist has been useful, that you feel fully prepared for your new dog, and that you have a wonderful time getting to know and care for your new pet.