What You Need to Know Before Fido Comes Home

Dogs–we love them, we pamper them, and we attend to their needs. In return, we experience a love and bond like no other. But before you bring a furry companion into your life, be sure you understand your responsibilities as a canine guardian.

Be ready for a commitment

When you bring a dog into your home, it is a lifetime commitment. Before dogs were domesticated they lived in packs, the same pack their entire life. The pack assured their survival. Today, humans have become a dog’s pack. To break the bond between the animal/human pack is detrimental to the animal. Getting a dog is a lot like getting married, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

Your dog will be with you for a number of years. Depending on the breed and other medical issues, dogs can live sixteen or more years. Larger dogs typically have a shorter life span than smaller dogs but there is always an exception. Nutrition and care play a large part in a dog’s lifespan.

Be ready to spend some money

Your dog will cost you a considerable amount of money. Make sure you know the costs involved in owning a dog and evaluate if you are able to provide what your dog needs. Besides the cost of getting your dog, you will need to spend money on beds, collars, crates, leashes, toys, veterinary services, dishes, pet sitters, trainers and food.

There are several types of diets to feed your dog, including raw diets and organic dry food. The price of a quality food can pay for itself in fewer vet trips. Dogs should have their own food and water dishes. Ceramic or stainless steel dishes make it easy to clean up after mealtime and keep bacteria at bay.

Money spent on training and socializing is a great investment. A trained dog is less likely to get you involved in a lawsuit. Begin with a basic obedience training class and go from there. There are classes for agility, fly ball, therapy certification, and search and rescue to name just a few. There is no limit to the activities you and your dog can share. Remember, a well behaved dog doesn’t just happen; it takes work.

Consider the cost and effort of grooming. Is your dog a wash and wear type, or does it require professional grooming every six to eight weeks? The breed and coat type will determine how much time and money grooming will involve.

Be ready to enjoy the outdoors

In nature dogs migrate. They need to exercise, explore new territories and take in new scents. Being allowed to run in the back yard is not sufficient. Dogs are hard wired to walk and they need to walk with you, the pack leader. If the need for exercise is not met, the dog becomes unhealthy, bored, destructive and aggressive.

Time spent training, grooming and walking your dog, not only creates a well-behaved animal, but it enhances the bond between you and your dog.

So, you’ve considered what is involved, done your research, and you are ready to become a dog guardian. Congratulations, but you still have a few preparations to make before you bring your new friend home.

Prepare your house

Decide what areas of your home your dog will sleep and eat, then take a good look at your home from a dog’s level. Get down on your knees and look around. What do you see? Loose change, pens, paper clips and small toys can become chocking hazards and should be removed from the dog’s area.

Electrical cords are very dangerous and tempting to dogs. Keep them out of the way and secure them with cord runners or electrical tape.

Make sure your trashcan has a secure lid. A dog’s nose is 100,000 times more powerful than humans. Humans explore their world through sight, while dogs explore theirs through sent. The aroma of trash can be too much for a dog to resist.

Remove breakables and family heirlooms from the dog’s area. Set up baby gates to control the area your new dog has access to. Gradually you can increase the area as you get better acquainted with your new dog’s behavior.

Remove toxic plants from the dog area, this includes your yard. Go on line to research the types of plants that are poisonous to animals.

If you bring home a puppy, it is probably the first time it has been away from his or her littermates. This can be a frightening time for the pup. Hot water bottles placed in the puppy’s crate can help sooth them. Crying at night is normal for a new puppy. Move them to an isolated area and let them cry. It usually only lasts a few nights until the puppy adjusts to its new surroundings. If it continues after a week, take your puppy to a vet to be check out.

Ask your dog loving friends for recommendations on veterinarians or get the phone book and call clinics in your area. Many facilities will be happy to speak to you and give you a tour of the clinic. If they won’t, you should probably keep looking. Remember to ask if they provide 24-hour emergency care. Your relationship with your veterinarian plays a very important role in the health of your dog. Take the time to check out near by clinics and doctors.

Whether you are bringing home a puppy or an adult dog, being prepared will make the adjustment easier for both of you. It is the perfect way to begin your new friendship.