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New Dog? 7 Tips and Tricks for the First Few Months

New Dog? 7 Tips and Tricks for the First Few Months

An intriguing phenomenon occurs in the days and weeks following the holidays: neighborhoods are packed with families on their evening walk…with a new doggie in tow. Vets get slammed with new pet mom and dads, eager to get their little furballs checked. And sales for basic puppy gear—food, adorable bowls and plush squeaky toys—goes through the roof.

Yup, it’s the post-holiday pet craze, and it’s a real thing. But in the midst of all the excitement and new dog squeals, many new dog owners forget about a lot of the do’s and don'ts of the early days of pet ownership. You know, the practical stuff like protecting your furniture, training them and getting that new fur baby adjusted to the kids. Good thing we’re here to remind you.

Read on for a roundup of our top tips for caring for that new furry family member. Most of these tips apply to new puppies, but many can go a long way to making any new doggo feel more at home.

Give Them Time To Process

tan dog sleeping with stuffed animal

Just like a new baby, you’re going to be pining for new puppy snuggles. But try to practice a little restraint—after all, your little furball has just entered an entirely new world! The days are likely overwhelming for her, so follow her lead. If she goes into her crate, give her time to herself and allow her to stay for as long as she wants.

You can set up your pup's crate as their very own "safe" zone and train them to go into when they want some alone time.  Outfit it with cozy blankets, a comfy dog bed, and some toys.  You might even consider something that smells like where they lived before they came to your home.  A breeder's toy or a shelter's blanket, maybe?

Provide Lots of Potty Breaks

white puppy peeing on floor

You probably know you need to take your puppy out for potty breaks often, but remember it’s a biological limitation. Puppies simply don’t have bladder control yet. That means that they won’t know when to go, or that even little bouts of excitement can cause them to have an accident. To combat this, get into the habit of playing with them outside, or taking them outside for a break at least every 20 to 30 minutes, and right after every meal. You may feel like you’re overdoing it at first, but the diligence will pay off (and save your carpet).

If your little pupster is having accidents, get some dog house training pads to protect your furniture, floors and carpets. 

Introduce Them To Kids Slowly

kid playing with dogs at sunset

The kid-puppy/kitten introduction is a two-way street—you want to avoid injuries and bad feelings on both sides of the table. Toddlers can be especially challenging. They walk funny; they’re unpredictable; they’re infinitely curious. They want to touch (and tug!) on everything. This will be a learning process for everyone involved. Work with your kids on talking quietly around the puppy. Teach kids to be gentle when handling the puppy.

And, since you are trying to create harmony in the household, it's important that everyone knows the boundaries and when rough play becomes hazardous or dangerous. Train your kids to sit and be calm before they interact with the puppy. And train the puppy to sit before they interact with the kids.  It really will be a win-win. 

Socialize Them with Others

A group of people saying hi and interacting with a dog outside

There’s a lot for your new pet to learn at home, but the world beyond your walls offers just as much education. This includes playing with other dogs and cats, meeting the neighbors across the back fence, enjoying those car rides to the vet or the store, and saying hello to people when you walk around the neighborhood.

Every interaction with a new person or animal marks a step forward in the critical socialization process. Allowing your pooch to meet a range of people—of all ages and personalities—rounds out their perspective on the world and allows them to become comfortable in a variety of circumstances. Allowing them to play with other doggies at the park or friends' houses teaches them how to make furry buddies and engage in friendly roughhousing.

Stock Up On Supplies 

Your Must Have List should include:

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • ID Tag with pet name, owner name and phone number
  • Food & Water Bowls
  • Dog Bed
  • Grooming Supplies - brushes for fur and teeth, trimmers for nails
  • Flea treatments

Your Nice To Have List could include:

  • Harness
  • Training pads
  • Pet Gate(s)
  • Enzymatic cleaner for accidents
  • Treats
  • Toys

Scollar has a large assortment of supplies for dogs and cats of all ages.  We even curated a New Dog Collection just for you. 

Your new pet will likely come home with a food that the shelter or breeder has been feeding them. Decide if you want to keep them on the same food, and then buy a bigger bag of that same food so you don't run out as quickly. If you want to transition them to a different food, buy a smaller bag of the food they eat now and find the best dog food for them and transition them slowly to their new food. 

Find a Vet ASAP

black cat being examined by vet and being held by owner

Don’t delay your first visit to the veterinarian; try to get in the door within a few days of bringing home your new pet. In fact, find a vet early and make the appointment before you bring them home.  You’ll want to immediately get a sense of health issues and any special care that may be required. Read the small print in your adoption contract—many purchase or adoption contracts state that an exam is immediately required. 

There are services that help you find a vet near you, including Localvets.com and Mypet.com.  If you are looking for telemedicine, you can use services like Fuzzy and TeleVet

Find a Local Trainer

woman training german shepherd in the park

You’ll need to think of a training strategy. Two resources for finding a local trainer are the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the Certified Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Start with training as early as possible.  It is far easier to learn new things together than unlearn bad habits later.