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I'm Going to Adopt a Dog; Now What? A Thorough Checklist.

You've fallen in love. You've filled out the papers. You're just waiting but you know you'll be approved and you are so excited you are almost shaking.

Take a deep breath. This is not nearly as difficult as having a baby - hey, someone else was pregnant instead - but there is a lot of fun preparation you can do while you are waiting. Start with building your support team.

  • Veterinarian For starters, unless you have a relationship with a veterinarian begin your research by talking to other owners you respect and make a new dog appointment for as close after adoption day as possible. When you adopt your dog, be sure to bring a copy of the vet records you receive when you adopted and review shots and neutering and microchipping. If your pup isn't microchipped, ask your vet to do so. If she is, ask your vet to run her wand over the chip to be sure it is functioning. And a reminder to you. Make sure your microchip is registered to you now. If you are not sure how to do this, your vet will tell you.

  • Professional Walker If you are going to need a dog walker to come in during the day, likewise for researching a reliable walker. Here I'm a bit of an expert. Other than the obvious of being reliable, GPS tracked, and communicative with emails or text messages in real time at the end of every walk, be certain each walker on staff is CPR/first aid certified. You want to be assured that your walker will know how to recognize and prevent your pup from eating rat poison or know what to do to prevent a bleed-out after another dog decides to bite yours or your pup has a seizure (4% of dogs have seizure disease) or your pup found your medication that you left on the kitchen table as a reminder to self and dined on it.

  • Trainer Although this can wait a wee bit, don't wait too long and let bad habits set in. Dogs are pack animals and want a leader which should be YOU. If you do not establish yourself quickly pup will look around, say, "I don't see a leader. Then it must be me." A good source of recommendation for a trainer is your dog walker for a competent walker will work closely with a trainer and continue the lessons on pup's walks.

  • Local Pet Store A pet store with knowledgeable staff will have answers to so many little questions you will have about pup care. If their prices are slightly higher than those online (and they may not be) the access to industry knowledge is certainly worth it.

  • Training Yourself When you select a dog trainer, be certain you understand that ultimately the trainer is training YOU to train your pup. You must be leader of the pack in pup's eyes. Dogs are very situational. Many will follow commands from one handler and totally ignore the same commands from another knowing they can get away with it. So barring a serious behavioral issue, do not send pup away for training. Go to class together. Work together between lessons and have your walker practice with pup during their walks. The second important training you should consider is preparedness for "you never know" when a pup will get into your cleaning materials or burn his paws on the hot pavement or choke on a "he ate what?!?". Brooklyn Bark offers an award winning CPR/first aid certification course. There are others. Take one and hope you never need it but if you do, seconds count.

Then you can shop for the hard-goods. Have fun! We strongly recommend shopping at a local pet store for all the advice a knowledgeable staff will have as you make your selections.

  • Food & water bowls These come in metal, plastic or ceramic. Select for not only elegance but for ease of cleaning. Dog lick their bowls and leave residue that needs to be washed out regularly.

  • Crate Dogs ancestors lived in dens and there is still the instinct to feel safe in an enclosed space. If you are adopting a puppy, start with a smaller crate and be prepared to move her up as she grows. This is not only a comfort for her but protects your Oriental rug from accidents and your grand piano from chew marks. You can throw a blanket over the crate or part of it to give pup an even cozier feeling.

  • Dog bed Warm, cuddly and make sure that pup doesn't chew it. If she does, replace it immediately before she swallows the stuffing material.

  • Collar We like a martingale collar as it will apply gentle pressure to communicate with pup when you are walking her but never run the risk of hurting her like a choke collar might. You may switch to a harness down the road. Discuss this with your trainer and your walker as you all get to know pup and her habits.

  • Leash Width proportional to pup's size, of course. Use a conventional leash of 4 ft. or less for walking. You'll need a 15 footer to teach recall. Never, never use a retractable leash. You have no control if pup decides to take off on you.

  • Food Rule #1 is to make sure that you select food that is composed of Human Grade Ingredients. Please note that often manufacturers don't advertise this on their packaging because of insane FDA regulations. However, your local pet store will guide you. And if you are a Barker and received one of our swag bags, any sample we share has been quality vetted. Of course!

  • Treats Same rules as food for human grade ingredients. Here we add one more which is low calorie. You'll be using lots of treats for training and behavior modification. There are quite a few high quality treats in the 3-calorie range that pups love.

  • Toys Depending on your pup's breed or mix of breeds she will be more or less interested in different types of play for play is preparation for her "work" as an adult dog. Have fun and experiment. You'll need

    • Chew toys - Especially when pup is teething. Offer synthetics such as Nylabone or natural chews such as pigs ears

    • Squeaky toys - These are reminiscent of catching prey. That squeak is so satisfying for many pups. Make sure the toy is sturdy and not easily ripped and chewed.

    • Fetch toys - Tennis balls are classics but if your pup eats them (yes, the yellow covering can be surgically removed by doggie teeth) find the hard rubber kind.

    • Tug toys - shaking on a tug toy is much like shaking prey.

    • Intellectual toys - pup has to figure out how to get to the treat by calculating, rolling or pushing.

  • Grooming

    • Shampoo - definitely use a pup formulation which will have none of the additives and perfumes that human shampoos have and some pups can become allergic to

    • Furminator or brush - based on your dog's coat get advice from your pet store helper

    • Nail clippers - cutting pup's toenails is not difficult. When you make your vet appointment ask if their vet tech can spend 5 minutes with you to show you how. Don't forget to tip him or her.

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