How To Adopt

Get Ready to Bring Your New Dog Home

Before bringing a pet into your home, prepare a special place for them to eat and sleep. At first, try to maintain the animal's daily schedule for play, eating, and elimination. Decide where you will exercise your pet. Obtain any necessary accessories (such as collar and ID tag, leash, crate, etc.) before you bring your pet home. You should pet-proof your home just as you would child-proof your home to avoid accidents. Harmful cleansers, plants, electrical cords, and breakable objects should be removed from potential contact with your pet. What will you do with your pet during long absences? Feeding, exercise, grooming, and play are daily time commitments that must be considered in caring for a healthy, happy pet.

With all that in mind, below are some recommendations from Mutts & Moms which should aid you in making a smooth transition into life with your new pet.

Suggested New Dog Supply List

Mutts & Moms ID Tag plus their own ID tag. This important item should be worn by your dog at all times, it could save their life. Plastic is easier to see, remember the idea is for someone to be able to contact you even if they can’t get their hands on the dog.

Fitted collar (snap closure is better for nylon & fabric while a buckle is ok for leather). Its key function is to hold the all-important I.D. tag with your address and phone number. A dog should wear this at all times, even while at home.

Leash. Fabric or leather work equally well and a 4 or 6-foot length is managable. Retractable leashes are not recommended as the only leash, but acceptable if you are familiar with its operation.

Choke Chain, fabric slip collar & harness. Use one for walking the dog. Don't keep chain collars on the dog except for walking; the dog can get injured.

Bowls for water and food. You will need one bowl for food and the other for water. In fact you may want to have two waters bowls, one for inside and the other for outside. There are any number of styles and colors of dog bowls available at any pet store, supermarket or catalog. Mutts & Moms recommends stainless steel bowls. The cute pottery or glass ones are easily broken, plastic does not wear well and if often mistaken for a chew toy. A good metal bowl will have a long life and maintain its beauty.

For larger dogs we suggest using a Bowl Stand to elevate their bowls during use. This is better for digestion and may help prevent Bloat. Bowl stands are available in most pet stores or almost anything from an empty flower pot to a small trashcan can be used.

Comb and brush. This is important especially for longer haired dogs and can help cut down on grooming costs. Long hair can become matted if not brushed regularly and your groomer will probably charge extra to get rid of the mats or may even have to shave the dog if the mats are too severe. The comb also helps rid your dog of fleas and small debris they may pick up on walks. Dogs also enjoy brushing and this can be bonding time spent with your dog.

Dog bed. Even if the dog is going to sleep in your bed, most like their own place in the family room or activity area. We recommend dog beds with removable zippered covers as they are easier to keep clean. You don’t want a freshly groomed dog sleeping in a dirty bed. Again a vast number of styles, colors and price ranges to choose from. Also, consider the age of your new dog. If they are still teething, you may want to stay away from wicker basket beds for a while or you may end up replacing a chewed on bed.

Flea Treatment. The old fashioned flea collars are out of favor as there are much better products available. Mutts & Moms recommends either Frontline, which is good for fleas and ticks and lasts for aproximately 3 months (flea portion only) or Advantage which is fleas only and must be re-applied after 30 days. Wait 48 hours before or after a bath for best results.
Toys. Most dogs like to have a toy or two. Beware of flimsy toys that contain whistles that dogs could easily tear up and swallow. Many love balls, most like fleece toys (natural colored fleece toys can be washed & bleached). Brightly colored fabric toys that are dyed may be unhealthful. Check out Trader Joe’s for bargains.

Decent brand of food (the better the food, the healthier the dog). While the number of different kinds of food may seem overwhelming, talk to your vet who will have definate ideas about which food to use. Also if your dog has been in foster care, his foster mom/dad will be able to help you in this area. We don’t recommend the supermarket foods which are usually high in suger and animal by-products. You can end up with a very fat dog. You will also need to consider any digestive sensitivities your dog may have when choosing a food.

We recommend a high quality dry kibble, such as the following:

No digestive issues
Natural Balance

Loose stool/nervous stomach - low moisture/fat
Nature’s Recipe
Science Diet

Constipated or dry to normal stool - high moisture/fat

A small amount of high quality canned food can be added, or ideally a little chicken and chopped vegetables such as carrots and broccoli as well.

Nutritional supplements. There are numerous products available for your pet to aid in their health and with certain health problems that may arise. Your veterinarian may recommend certain supplements and should be consulted before adding them to your pet’s diet. Pet tabs are excellent and work much the way a mulivitamin works on humans. Mutts & Moms has found that products such as Fresh Factors or Missing Link can be very helpful for dogs with dry itchy skin and joint problems.

Treats. We all love to baby our pets and give them treats occasionally. Mutts & Moms recommends sticking to healthy biscuit-style treats without preservatives and added dyes. You should avoid, especially in the beginning, highly flavored treats such as anything that smells like BBQ, pig ears, etc. They are typically high in calories and can also lead to stomach problems and diarrhea.

Small amounts of fruits and vegetables can also be used as treats. Mutts & Moms finds most dogs like carrot, apple or banana.

Crate (we recommend the folding wire type), or baby gates. Choose a safe, secure place to confine the dog when you cannot watch him for the first few days or weeks until you can allow freer roam. Confine the dog in a family area, such as a family room or kitchen. Never in a basement (confining in damp, darker quarters lead to housebreaking/behavioral problems), never in a garage, and never left outside unattended.

What Medical Care Will the Dog Need?
All Mutts & Moms dogs come with a medical history record. Mutts & Moms dogs receive rabies and DHLPP vaccinations and are spay/neutered (as medically appropriate for the dog's age) before being put up for adoption. The adopter agrees to do the recommended medical work after adoption, which includes shots and spay/neutering for puppies adopted before they are old enough for us to do this. In addition, the adopter will register the dog at the adopter's vet within 2 weeks of adoption, and then visit the vet for annual exams and vaccinations, as well as for any special medical care or emergencies. See Healthcare Primer for more important information.

How to Set "Home Rules":
Before bringing a dog home, work out doggie duties in advance with the other members of your household. Decide: who will walk the dog...exercise the dog...feed the dog...and when? Which areas, if any, of the house are off-limits? Where will the dog sleep? Will the dog be allowed on furniture? Tip: Don't allow the dog on furniture until the dog has begun obedience training and the people in the home have established themselves as leaders of the pack. Trainers warn that when a dominant dog sleeps on the people's beds, the dog may consider herself equal or greater in leadership than the humans in the house.

Start day one by teaching your dog appropriate behavior through consistent, positive reinforcement.

Planning for a Successful Homecoming:
If you have other pets, arrange the homecoming so that your other dogs can meet the new dog on neutral territory. If you have cats, make sure your cats have a safe haven to escape from the dog. Keep the leash on the dog indoors for the first hours or days (only when you're with him), and give a swift firm leash correction if the dog attempts to threaten the cats or engage in other undesirable behavior. To avoid other pets becoming jealous, be sure to pay attention to them too.

Schedule your time so you can introduce the new dog to his potty place, the yard, the house, his crate, as well as all household members. Practice putting him in the crate, leaving awhile, and returning. Teach him that is natural for the people to leave the house, and that they will come back. This will help the dog avoid separation anxiety. Resist the urge to spend all of the first day or weekend with the dog; leave the house for varying periods at the beginning so he gets the idea you will eventually return, and that he doesn't have to fear being alone.

Helping the Dog Adjust:
What goes into making a dog a member of the family? Below are some generalized tips for integrating a new dog into your home. There are more specific articles throughout the website which expand on the topics below.

Exercise. Plan plenty of play time for your dog, every day. Go for long walks; go jogging (on-leash of course). Find an enclosed area to play ball. A well-exercised dog is happier, healthier, and far less prone to behavioral problems. Do not play tug-o-war, rough-house, or play other games that encourage aggression and teach your dog to challenge you.

Time out. if you have guests, or active children, monitor the dog to make sure he's not getting too tired or nervous. Sometimes, dogs signal "enough" by nipping, so try to not let things reach that point. If the dog seems like he wants a rest, let him relax alone.

Training essentials. Like children, dogs depend on adults to teach them good behavior. Remember that dogs need order. They like routine. And they are pack animals who need to know that someone is leader of the pack. If the human doesn't act as the "alpha," the dog will be confused, and may try to take charge. Teach your dog from the start that you are the leader of the pack, the one on whom he can depend for guidance and protection (not the other way around). Don't be harsh, and never hit a dog. Instead, teach your dog using consistent, positive reinforcement.

Whenever the dog engages in something unacceptable, nip that in the bud immediately. Give him a leash correction. Warn him in a loud, disapproving voice -- Ah-AH-AHH! or NO! Then instruct him to do something good, such as "sit", and praise as soon as he obeys. Substitute a positive behavior for the negative one.

Reward him for good behavior. "Rover, good boy!" and a pat on the head or neck rub. Give him ample, regular opportunities to "do good." Teach him commands such as "sit" and "stay" and "down" -- then practice them frequently so he can earn your praise. And "no free lunch" -- have him perform a simple act of obedience before giving him a treat or his meal.

Housebreaking. Read all you can about housebreaking. Even a dog considered housebroken can have accidents. Learning effective, humane techniques is NOT hard -- and taking the time upfront will pay off by speeding up the housebreaking process.

Trainers now recommend Crate Training for effective housebreaking. The dog is confined in a wire crate, kept in a well-lighted family area, for short periods of time. This technique utilizes a dog's instinct to avoiding messing in his den. He'll try to hold it until you let him out and take him to an approved potty spot (use the same area at the beginning to convey the message). Remember that puppies can't hold it for more than a few hours, so work up gradually. Do not crate a dog for more than 5 hours at a time. Read more on Housebreaking.

Destruction & Aggression. A dog cannot do damage if you don't allow this to happen. Watch your new dog carefully -- and keep her in a kitchen, in a crate or other secure area if you can't attend to her, with chew toys to keep her busy.

Don't encourage rough or wild behavior. To avoid bites, don't place your face near the dog's face until you've started obedience training, taught him acceptable behavior and established yourself and other humans in the home as higher in the hierarchy. In other words, until you've earned the dog's respect. Tell everyone in your home to abide by this advice.

Remember: many dogs have not had the luck to be socialized yet. Their baggage may include unacceptable behaviors you must watch for, and then retrain with the help of books and professionals. Read more on Behavior

Safety. Remove dangerous objects from a dog's reach. Always keep a dog on-leash when outdoors in unfenced areas; watch even in a fenced yard.

Love. Perhaps one of the most important ingredients in your dogs life. Treat your dog as a member of the family, an indoor resident. Don't leave a dog outside unattended; a dog can eventually learn to escape the yard or someone can harm or take him. It's not worth the risk. Give them attention and kindness. Include them in your life as much as you can. Remember, you have your friends, work and activites, you are their whole world.

The Key to a Happy Relationship: Commitment!
The keys to success are consistency -- and commitment. Be committed in helping your dog adjust and in integrating him into the family. Realize this living being is counting on you...that nobody is perfect...and that adjustment and training take time. Sign up for obedience training from the start.

Enter pet ownership as a lifetime commitment. Don't get a dog until you're sure you have the resources and time to care for this animal for the rest of his or her life. In return, you will be rewarded with unconditional love.

Next > What dog is right for you?