Congratulations, you’ve finally picked out the right dog for you! Now it’s time to prepare yourself and your environment for the arrival of your new best friend.
Getting Ready for the New Arrival
Before your dog comes home, you may want to take at least a couple of days off to sleep in (especially if you’re getting a puppy) and gather supplies. It’s so much easier to have them before you need them, rather than wait until the dog is in the house to realize what you need but don’t have. The section “Tools of the Trade” in the next chapter will help you figure out what supplies you’ll need. You may also want to plan your dog’s arrival around a vacation so you can adjust to your new routine without worrying about keeping a tight schedule. You should stick as closely to your normal schedule as possible, including the times when your puppy will be crated when you go back to your normal activities.
Before you get your dog, you will want to have a safe way to transport your dog to his new home. A crate is the safest option for any age dog, but a puppy or small dog can be held on the lap of someone in the back seat for a short trip (have towels handy in case of accidents on the way home). Seat belts are available for the restraint of larger dogs. For the safety of the dog and everyone else on the road, the dog should not ride on the driver’s lap. You should also plan on having at least several days’ worth of whatever food your new dog is currently eating on hand to avoid adding digestive upsets to what will already be a stressful time.
Home at Last!
When you first get home, give your dog a few quiet minutes to relieve herself before bringing her in the house to meet her new family. Let her explore the immediate area and meet each family member on her own time without everybody grabbing at her. Everyone is bound to be excited, but try not to overwhelm her with everyone in the neighborhood coming over to meet her the day you bring her home. Give her a few days to settle in while you both adjust to your new routines.
Expect a few sleepless nights. This is a whole new life for your dog, with none of the things that are familiar to her to give her comfort. Crating her in your bedroom at night is a good idea. Letting her out of her crate to sleep in your bed because she’s crying isn’t. Grit your teeth and hang in there. Some dogs are soothed by a wind-up clock ticking right outside the crate, and it wouldn’t hurt to give her a couple of big fluffy toys to cuddle up with. It helps to make sure she’s tired out and recently pottied before you put her in the crate for the night. If you do have to take her out in the middle of the night to relieve herself — chances are you will for a few weeks — don’t play with her or give her treats. Give her a few minutes to do what she needs to do, and then put her right back in the crate. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures so you don’t forget her first days home.