Getting a new dog is sure to be an exciting event for you and your family. However, this excitement can turn into anxiety if you don’t know the right way to care for your new family member. He or she needs more than food and water to keep them happy. It takes a bit of planning and preparation to make sure that your new dog will thrive in their new surroundings.

Gather Your Supplies

A dog crate is an important tool to have, especially in the beginning. Some people may think the crate to be like a jail cell, but this is a common misconception. A dog enjoys having a room of their own, as long as they can stand up, turn around and sit comfortably. Your dog shouldn’t be left in the crate for more than a few hours at a time. If you choose to train your dog without a crate, try using a baby gate to keep him in an area of the kitchen for example. In either case, just make sure that the dog won’t get their head or paws caught in any area of the gate.

There are other items that you need to get together. A thick, comfortable bed will do nicely for your dog. They will need stainless steel water and food bowls. Buy him a 20 foot leash with his own collar and identification tag. Buy grooming supplies such as a flea comb and a brush so that you can brush your dog daily. Go ahead and pick up some pet stain odor remover to save yourself a headache later.

 Buy Quality Food

Look for dog food with a list of healthy ingredients instead of byproducts and preservatives that some dogs are allergic to. If you have a puppy, be sure to buy a food that is specifically formulated for puppies. After the puppy reaches between 9 to 12 months old, they can be switched to adult dog food. You should feed your dog several times per day. If your dog is 6-12 weeks, they need to be fed 4 times a day. At 3-6 months, they should be fed 3 times a day. If they are 6-12 months, they can be fed only twice a day. Fresh, clean water should be available to your dog at all times of the day.

Delegate Responsibilities

It is always a good idea to delegate who is going to do what in the household, right from the beginning. Decide who will be taking him out first thing in the morning and who is going to feed him at night. Go ahead and decide what type of limits you will have for him. For example, are there certain areas of the home where he won’t be allowed to go? Can he get up on the couch, or not? Where is the dog going to sleep in your home?

Work on Housetraining

Begin by assuming that your dog is not housetrained and start from the beginning. The three P’s to successful housetraining are patience, planning and positive reinforcement. When accidents do happen, prepare for them by having a carpet cleaning spray handy. If your dog hasn’t had all of her shots yet, be sure to find a place outdoors that is inaccessible by other animals to protect her. When your dog goes to the bathroom outdoors, provide a lot of positive reinforcement. When the dog has an accident indoors, experts say it’s the wrong thing to do to punish her. There are specific times when you should take your puppy outdoors. Take her out as soon as you wake up and right before bedtime. Also take her out whenever she wakes up from napping, after she drinks a lot of water and after exercising.

Teach Them to Obey You

It is important to establish yourself as the “alpha” over the dog. You don’t want your dog to dominate you and take charge when you take him on walks for example. There are several ways to do this. One way is to enroll them into obedience training. If you choose to do this on your own, you want to work on having him obey commands such as sit, stay, down and come. Each of these commands are needed in the household. Again, the key is positive reinforcement. Provide the dog with small treats when they do what you ask them to.

Plan Exercise Times

Dogs need a lot of exercise, so you need to plan for that. Decide what times of the day you can set aside to exercise with your dog. Go walking with them, play fetch or Frisbee. When you take trips, take your dog with you and be sure to bring his leash along with you.

Clean Your Dog’s Ears

If you don’t clean out your dog’s ears once a week, they may end up having problems down the road. One way to do this is to mix a solution of ½ water and ½ white vinegar to use. Pour the solution into the ear and massage it into the base of the ear. Next, use a cotton ball to clean the visible parts of the ear. Your dog will shake out the excess solution when he is ready. Lastly, use a cotton ball to wipe off the excess.

Find a Good Veterinarian

As soon as you get your dog, go ahead and take them straight to the vet for a checkup. You should do this even if your dog has already had their shots, to go ahead and establish a healthy routine. Go ahead and get them started on heartworm preventative medication. If you got them from a shelter, ask them if they can recommend a vet for you. A local dog walker or groomer is another great resource. Once you meet with you vet, ask them for recommendations when it comes to feeding your dog and set up a vaccination schedule.

Recognize Warning Signs

If you have a puppy, it is important to take charge of their health by looking out for any warning signs of illness that may show up. Lack of appetite or poor weight gain are two of these and vomiting is another. They shouldn’t be tired all the time or have any difficulty breathing. Look for swollen red eyes and make sure they don’t have a discharge coming out of the eyes or nose.


Above all, when it comes to taking care of your new dog, remember to be patient. Be reasonable when it comes to your expectations of your dog who is experiencing a new environment.