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Protect Your Newest Family Member

People follow their hearts to find a new furry family member, but they might not remember everything they need to do to make these pet-to-family transitions seamless. Here is some very practical advice to help new dog owners identify and remove potential problems while everyone adjusts to the new member of the household.

It might seem silly, but get down on hands and knees and look at your surroundings from dog’s-eye level. Consider whether there is anything your dog can chew or choke on, knock over, or ingest.

Spend as much time with your new pup as possible as he transitions into your family. Take lots of walks together. It’s a great opportunity to get to know him, for him to get to know your neighborhood, and for you both to get much needed exercise. It takes a bit of time, but you will hit your stride and won’t remember when he wasn’t part of the family.

Potty training a pup? Consistency and a gentle tone work wonders. Be sure to set him up for success by taking him out frequently—especially if he has just awakened, eaten, or been playing.

Got kids? There are many resources to teach children how to act safely around dogs. Meanwhile, since your dog is new to your family, be sure to supervise at all times while everyone is getting acquainted. Learn about dog body language so that you are educated and can teach your children the basics.

When you leave the house, your new dog should be confined to a crate or a room where he can’t do any damage or get into any trouble. Be sure to consult a professional trainer about proper crate training.

Check the perimeter of your yard for holes. This is a good time to make your your fences are secure, too.

Working in the front yard? Be sure to close the gate behind you. Fido isn’t used to his surroundings yet, and an open gate might be his escape route.

Schedule a check up with your veterinarian. If your dog is from a shelter or rescue organization, he or she is likely neutered or spayed already. If not, check with your vet for the recommended age for either procedure. There are already more pets than homes, and you don’t want to add to the statistics. Your vet can make sure your new dog is up to date on all of his shots and has been microchipped, too. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the location of your emergency vet—just in case.

Contact a recommended trainer to get your new dog learning what you expect of him in your home, socialized with other dogs, and bonding with you and your family. If there are no classes in session right now, ask the trainer if he or she can come do a private class.

Does Rover need a bath or grooming? If the idea of making a mess in your tub or leaning over while bathing him doesn’t sound appealing, then try a cost-efficient doggie dunk where the tubs are elevated and they clean up the mess. Or do you know a trusted groomer? You can either take your dog to the local groomer or research a mobile groomer who will come to you.

Muster up all the patience you can, especially in the first few weeks. You are getting to know one another, and it can be trying. But the unconditional love is well worth it.

Diane Rose-Solomon of Santa Monica is a certified humane education specialist and the author of What to Expect When Adopting a Dog, a book full of tips on parenting a dog. It walks new and prospective pet parents through what they should consider and contains more than 100 links to expert websites for additional in-depth information. For more than 20 years, Rose-Solomon has been a rescue advocate and supports finding new homes for dogs currently living in shelters. 

Main article photo by: Courtesy Diane Rose-Solomon