Day 1 of pet parenting

Bangalore Mirror 20th Jan 2015

I recently hand held a friend through an entire adoption process and it was fascinating for me to face the kind of questions he had. First time dog parents have questions that are such a unique perspective on pet parenting. Day 1 of pet parenting can be overwhelming. So here are some tips.

If you are heading out in an automobile to get your new pet, take newspapers, towels and a few old sheets. The dog may get motion sickness. Let the people caring for your dog you what time you are going and ask them not to feed the dog at least an hour before the ride.

If you know what dog or pup you are getting, then you can make a visit to the pet shop for supplies, before getting the dog or pup. If you are adopting and don’t know what dog you are going to return with then you have to visit a pet shop close to home or to the shelter. Keep the car ride back home as short and smooth as possible.

When shopping for supplies, at the pet shop, make sure you add the following items to your shopping cart – a soft collar, a name tag, a good harness for walks, a long leash at least 8ft long, a big bag of food that you have researched to be the best for your dog, a soft rubber brush for a soft coat dog, a slicker brush for a long coat dog, at least one bed and one blanket, at least two bowls, poop bags, toys, chews and treats. You might need some deworming medicines if you are taking a dog or pup home from a muddy holding area.

When getting your dog, don’t forget to collect your dog’s health and vaccination card. Once you have your dog, find a vet close by and make an appointment to see the vet a day or two after arrival. You can also make an appointment with a good groomer who will handle your dog with care. But don’t make that visit to the vet or groomer on day 1. Day 1 is meant to just settle in.

Once home, walk the dog for about five minutes on the long leash in a quiet street. After the long car ride, the dog may want to stretch his legs and relieve himself. Once indoors, put out water, food, newspapers for the dog to pee on, the bed, a few chews and toys on the bed. After the dog eats walk the dog for another five minutes and then let the dog settle down. Your dog may take a day or two to settle. That’s perfectly normal.

Puppies might wake up several times the first night. Be prepared to lose a few night’s of sleep. Dogs, especially puppies need company at night. Do not leave them alone. Put their bed near your bed and let them sleep where they can see you or some person. During the day, put some soft blankets or carpets out near places that you spend time. Ex: outside the kitchen, near the TV, near the desktop etc.
An interesting question I was asked was if the dog’s name can be changed after adoption. Yes. It’s easy to teach name recall. Pick a name you think best represents your dog. Use the name in a soft loving tone. Everytime the dog looks at you when you use the name, praise or treat the dog. The more positive situations you use the name in, the better the name recall.

Do not play fetch with your dog. Instead do some treat search, where your dog can use his nose to sniff out some treats. Do not attempt to pet your new dog. Let him come to you when he is ready. Be as calm around him as possible and plan for as little activity as possible on arrival day. The calmer the arrival day, the better the dog settles in. This is a cheer to all first time pet parents opting to adopt. Cheers!

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