Were you one of the lucky souls who had a present that barked under the tree?
Or perhaps those emotional humane society ads called you to action? If so, congratulations on your new pup and family member.
Studies show as a dog owner you will have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, be less likely to be depressed, and of course, unofficial studies show your heart and your feet will be warmer too!
Important People and
Big Decisions
It’s up to you to fight amongst yourselves about who your dog’s favorite family member is going to be at home, but there’s another important person it will need — a veterinarian.
If you have a young puppy, there’s likely some puppy shots they might need so you’ll probably already have a need to have a veterinarian lined up, but it’s just as important for any dog.
Aside from a veterinarian who you and your pet are comfortable with, also look for a convenient location, possibly with evening hours that work with your schedule.
Find out what their after-hours policies are: Is there a vet on call or is there a 24 hour center they would recommend as back up?
If something major should pop up, what are their payment options like?
After you meet your pet’s other match, you’ll have a few big decisions to ponder.
During their first months at their new home, dogs can be trying to figure out their boundaries and their area.
So it is important to get some meaningful identification on your dog aside from a cutesy name tag! If they tend to escape their collar, are bothered by something dangly, or even if they are not, talk to your vet about microchipping.
Though it’s quite a commonplace these days, it is still a decision so you need to know what to expect.
If you adopted a puppy outside of the shelter, one thing you’ll want to be prepared for is the decision to spay or neuter.
It’s not really one of those, “Let’s see what happens” sort of decisions, because what will happen is you will have puppies whether you are prepared for them or not!
Do you need a dog sitter?
Though it’s cold and snowy now, travel and vacation time are right around the corner!
And slightly less glamorous, are late work meetings or business trips that will keep you from home.
How will you handle these situations with your new pet?
Prepare by jotting down your pet’s likes and dislikes, any little quirks, or anything else noteable.
Your pet may be anxious enough without you and having their routine interrupted even more can add stress.
Likewise, you certainly don’t want to be wearing your tropical shirt ready to kiss your dog goodbye and realize that you aren’t comfortable with your choice, so plan ahead.
If you would prefer to have a pet sitter come to your home and tend to your pup, keep the notes in a handy spot, and your food scoop and leash easy to find.
Let them know the hours your pet usually receives care and the amount of activity they normally receive.
Do they need to go on a long, high speed run off leash, or will a quick trot around the street do it? Are there animal areas to avoid?
If you think a kennel works better for your situation, find out what you need to provide or bring for your dog during the stay.
Many boarding facilities have paperwork that rivals that of a child’s daycare and you’ll also want to make sure your dog fits their criteria (size, breed, and minimum age are all possible restrictions).
If your new family member gets to come along on your trip, even better! If your pet meets the requirements of the destination (such as size and breed), make sure you bring proof of up to date vaccines with you while traveling.
With dogs being popular travel companions, the travel industry has taken note.
Most campgrounds have fenced areas for dogs to socialize, and a few, such as Massey’s Landing or Castaways, even have designated dog beaches! Hotels can also be dog friendly — the Hyatt in Cambridge is dog friendly, with one of their restaurants even having a dog menu.
Keep in mind if there is a day on your trip that you will be busy doing a non-dog friendly activity, many popular destinations and even certain locations of popular pet chains may have a doggie daycare for short or temporary care.
Socialization and Training
Of course, before they can be a jet setting pooch, you’ll want to work on their social skills.
A great advantage of getting a new dog during the brisker months is that it’s a great time to ease your dog into training.
Trails aren’t crowded with activity yet and you can let your dog take their time, being sure to see how they respond to other dogs of different sizes, children, bicycles and other things out of their ordinary.
It’s easier to take note now than at a crowded fair, festival or park.
Be easy on both of you — if it seems to be an off day, don’t push it.
Take a break and try again another time! As you learn each other’s gait, you may find one leash style works better than another, or your dog who keeps getting tangled may do better with a harness than a leash.
And of course, you can also work on your pooper scooper abilities!
If you want to look into more advanced training sessions, figure out a goal first.
What do you want to accomplish?
Realize that the hard work and responsibility will fall onto both of your shoulders before and after any official sessions are over.
If you have goals for hunting, advanced retrieving and more, the Eastern Shore is the place for it, with everything from retriever clubs to dock jumping clubs to look into.
The great news is that love comes naturally to both you and your pet.
Enjoy this special time, be patient with each other, and be furr-ever friends!