If you have decided to grow your family with a furry friend, we’ve compiled five top tips to help you prepare yourself — and your home. Getting ready to grow your family is an incredibly exciting time, but great responsibility comes with owning a dog. So, it’s crucial to ensure you have everything in place before your new companion arrives.
1. HIT THE SHOPS
Arguably the most exciting step in preparing for your new pet, it’s time to get your home kitted out with the prefect products for your pooch. There are various places from which to buy pet supplies, we recommend popping to your local specialist pet store who are ready and waiting to share their passion and knowledge in all things pets.
Some of the items it’s wise to purchase, no matter how old your new companion, include:
- Two bowls: one for food, and one for water
- A bed (and a crate if you’re hoping to crate train)
- A collar and tag: with your name and contact details engraved, to make sure your pet can be returned to you if they’re lost
- A leash for walks (and a harness if you’re planning to use one)
- Poo bags for whenever you take your companion out for exercise
- Toys: to keep your pooch entertained, and prevent them from chewing your furniture
- A car harness: if you own a car and are planning to transport your dog in it
- Grooming equipment and dog shampoo: to keep their coat in top condition
If you’re welcoming a puppy into your home, you might also want to invest in some puppy training pads. Even with the best training techniques, puppies don’t tend to master going to the toilet outside first time!
2. FIND THE RIGHT FOOD
If you were concerned that we missed something off our shopping list, you’d be right. Finding the right food for your furry friend is really important, as it can have a huge impact on their physical wellbeing and cognition, and there are so many different kinds to choose from.
Choosing the right food for your companion depends on a multitude of variables, including...
- Their age
- Their size
- Their breed
- Their activity levels
It’s important to be aware that not all carbs are created equal, and this is an important thing to consider when choosing dog food, as grains are often used to bulk out food, whilst providing minimal nutritional value.
Dogs lack salivary amylase (an enzyme used to break down starchy carbohydrates) which means that carbohydrates such as grains are a lot harder to digest. Grain free dog food is easier to digest, meaning lower feeding amounts and a smaller stool volume. With less room taken up by hard-to-break-down grains, there is more room for quality meat. Also, with grains taken out of the equation, there are fewer ingredients for your dog to potentially have an allergic reaction or be intolerant to.
Whether you’re getting your new dog from a breeder or a shelter, you’ll most likely need to wean them off of that food if you choose something different. This should be done gradually over around seven days, slowly increasing the amount of new food they’re given whilst decreasing the amount of their old food they consume.
3. INVESTIGATE INSURANCE OPTIONS
Not all aspects of adding a new pet to the family are fun. Searching for the right pet insurance for your new companion might seem like an arduous task, but it certainly is one of the most important. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to foot the bill for all vet visits, from routine check-ups to life-saving operations, so it really is vital that you have appropriate cover for your new family member.
Just like home or car insurance, there are a variety of levels available to suit your needs and budget, and price comparison sites can help you find the best deal. Just make sure that your chosen local vet accepts payment from your insurance provider before you sign on the dotted line.
Puppies explore the world using their mouths. Although this is completely normal for young dogs, it’s worth taking the time to puppy-proof your home and garden before you pick up your furry friend. Follow this checklist to minimise damage to your home, as well as limit health risks to your companion:
- Ensure there are no loose wires and cables laying around for your puppy to chew, especially if they’re left alone
- Keep food out of reach, especially foods that are toxic to dogs, including chocolate, grapes and onions
- Move cleaning products and medication out of reach, as these can be equally harmful
- Some houseplants can also be toxic to dogs. Do your research and move any potentially harmful plants off the floor. Double-check your outdoor space, too
- Clean up small items, like paper clips and jewellery, as they could be choking hazards
- Check that the fencing in your garden is secure, as puppies love to dig and climb
If you’re particularly concerned about one area of the house, you might want to consider buying a puppy gate — just like a baby gate — so you can leave your puppy unsupervised.
While puppies are thought to be master destructors, some older dogs also have less than desirable habits. So, it’s worth getting to know them by visiting the shelter or previous owner regularly, asking questions and spending time with your dog before they move in. Of course, with the right training you should be able to teach your companion to go to the toilet outside and not to chew furniture, just like you can with a puppy.
5. REGISTER WITH A LOCAL VET
Finding a local vet for your new dog is just as important as registering with the local GP when you move to a new house. If you can, ask around friends and family members — as well as local dog owner’s pages on social media — to find the right vet for your pooch. Once you’ve decided on the one you want to try out, give them a call to arrange a check-up and any vaccinations your companion needs.
It’s also vital to make sure that your dog is fitted with a microchip by the time it is 8 weeks old, as pet owners who don’t could face hefty fines. Your local vet will be able to microchip your new companion in just a few seconds, and it enables you to be contacted if your dog is lost or stolen, as long as your information is kept up to date.
It’s more than likely that your dog’s first few weeks at home will be hectic, but with the right preparation things might go more smoothly than you expected. Having everything lined up and getting into a routine with your new companion from the very beginning is a great way to prevent chaos and make the experience enjoyable for everyone. The preparation will all be worth it when you have a lovable bundle bounding around your home and brightening everyone’s days with their endless puppy love.