Decisions, decisionsWhat kind of dog do you want? You may have your eye on a cutie you?ve seen in your neighborhood, but first, do your research. Not every dog is right for a first-timer. Some dogs are more eager to please and some are more independent. Some are more active, and some are couch potatoes. You have to find a dog that fits your lifestyle best. If not, you?ll quickly get irritated with each other. Many, many books have been written about dog breeds, so go to your local library and start reading. You can also find tons of information on the web about breeds and their characteristics. If you have allergies, you may not want a dog that sheds a lot. If you aren?t very active, we wouldn?t suggest a dog that needs lots of exercise, such as hunting breeds. While dog shows are mostly about the beauty of the breeds, they often impart information about the breeds shown. If you go to a dog show, most owners would be glad to tell you all about the breed they love.
Before you bring her homeOnce you?ve decided what kind of dog to get, it?s time to go shopping. Some things you and your dog will need include:
- Collar or harness
- Bed, based on size
- Crate, based on size. If you get a puppy, you?ll want a small crate to begin with. Puppies can grow into larger crates, but she might potty in a crate that?s too large.
- Food bowls
- Food, determined by your dog?s size, breed and age. Ask your veterinarian.
- Toys, which also depend on size and breed. Try some soft and some durable toys. Each dog is different in her preference for toys. Some aren?t interested at all.
Bringing her homeWhen you bring home your new pooch, give her some time to adjust. Don?t take her all around town to show her off to your family and friends, and don?t invite them all over for a welcome home party on the first day. Your dog may be afraid, especially if she?s a rescue who had a challenging life before you came along. Keep your home atmosphere calm and gentle. Show her the dog bed, some toys and her bowls so she can get the lay of the land. If she doesn?t want to come near you just yet, that?s OK. Get down on the floor and be available. Offer her some treats, and she?ll learn to trust you.
Settling inIf she?s OK with a leash, it?s a good idea to keep it on her while she?s still unsure of the home. It will be easier to grab if she takes off for a place you don?t want her to go, and it will help you take her outside for potty breaks. If you need to house train your dog, take her out about once an hour and every time she eats and wakes up from a nap. Praise her when she potties in the yard and gently correct her when she has an accident. Never yell at a dog or try to punish her for accidents. She isn?t doing it on purpose; she just hasn?t learned yet.
Offer her lots of cuddle time, and play with her when she?s ready. She?ll let you know her preferences, and you?ll soon be the best of friends. You and your dog can go on long walks together and have adventures in your neighborhood. It will be like you were never without her in your life.