The decision to get a dog is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You need to be sure that you can provide the best possible home for your new pet to keep them happy, healthy and safe. If you have time to plan and prepare for this new arrival, you need to make sure that you can provide this environment from the very first day. There is a lot to think about and you will find that the process transforms your home and your lifestyle in the process. But, the more effort you put in now, the more rewarding it will be for all concerned.
Below are some of the different items that you will need to create this ideal home for your pet. They are grouped into categories based on different types of needs to help you create a more well-rounded approach.
Establishing the basic physiological, safety and relationship needs of your new dog.
There is a theory in Human Psychology known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. There is a pyramid system that determines the levels of needs from the most basic to a form of self-actualization. Now, notions of self-fulfillment and esteem might not mean that much with dogs but the other levels are pretty much the same. We need to make sure that we can cater to these demands with the home we create before the dog arrives. This means that they are more likely to have their physiological needs, safety needs and belongingness needs fulfilled more quickly.
So, how can we do this? Basically, what we need to do as a prospective dog owner is to look at all of these basic needs and ensure that we have all the equipment in place to cater to them. If we follow this hierarchical pyramid, we can see clear categories. They are:
1. Food and Water
This has to be the first consideration because your dog can survive a night in a new home without the other items, but not food and water. This is the most primitive need and one that needs a lot of thought depending on the breed and their dietary needs. You need the following:
A strong diet plan with quality food:
Before your new dog arrives, you need to have a good supply of food in for them. Don’t worry about expensive, gourmet names until you know what they like. Try and do some research on the best diet plans and ingredients for their breed. If you have a puppy, start on a puppy formula. If you are adopting an older dog then look for something suitable.
Supplements as needed:
Supplementation may not be an issue just yet. You may not be aware of dietary needs or conditions until the first vet’s trip. However, rescue dogs may need a little extra help with supplements for joint health, coat conditioning or other needs. Talk to the shelter about these options.
Food and water bowls:
Dogs can’t eat or drink without bowls for their food and water. It is advisable to go for a stainless steel bowl rather than something plastic as this is more hygienic. Puppies and small breeds can also struggle with high-sided bowls so look for something that is more accessible.
2. Warmth and rest
We have put warmth and rest together here because they are so closely related. Dogs need a comfortable, warm place where they can sleep or just relax during the day. Most dog breeds like the chance to create a space that is theirs – preferably a little den if the option is available. Attention to detail with this also stops them from getting too comfortable in your bed or on the couch. Pay attention to the following for warmth and rest.
A good dog bed:
The right dog bed isn’t always easy to find. You may start with a more basic option and then adapt to your dog’s sleeping habits at a later date. The most important thing to do here is to find a bed that is the right size and consistency for your pet. They need enough room to lie down and enough padding that they won’t sink to the floor.
A comfortable blanket:
There is almost an inevitability here that your dog will favor the expensive fluffy throw on your sofa. But, you can still provide something similar that they can use to get cozy in their own bed. These blankets can also act as security aids for dogs as they settle into their new home.
An outdoor kennel:
Not all dogs are built to sleep outside due to their small size and thin coats. However, others can do pretty well outside and often appreciate the chance to find shelter in a kennel in the garden. Look for something that has enough room for them to move around and is protected from the elements.
Jackets and coats:
Warmth also comes from a good dog jacket in the winter time. Small breeds with poor temperature regulation benefit from a warm coat. Look out for something with plenty of padding and a soft lining. Also, be careful to find the right fit. This is something that is best bought once you get the dog home and can measure them correctly.
3. Health and fitness
It is important that we also consider health and fitness when dealing with the basic physiological needs of our new pet. This means more than just providing them with enough food and water and a warm bed. Puppies require a lot of care and help as they grow up. Rescues may have problems that led to them being given away in the first place. Healthcare needs can include:
Registration with a vet:
A new puppy needs lots of shots and checks in its early life to prevent disease and screen for illnesses. It might be a good idea to talk to a vet before the pup arrives home for advice on different aids and options. You can also book their first appointments nice and early
Medical treatments recommended by the shelter/previous owner:
If you are adopting a dog, they may have long-standing conditions or genetic issues that require regular care. If possible, stock up on supplies via the previous owner or their veterinarian to make sure that the dog doesn’t miss any medication.
Grooming tools are a must for any dog owner unless you plan to call in professional help each week. Your dog’s coat will need to be brushed regularly – as will their teeth – to keep them clean. Nails and fur need to be trimmed when they get too long. Then there is the dreaded bath time which needs an appropriate bath, dog shampoo and maybe a dryer for fluffy dogs. You may find other grooming tools are required depending on your dog’s breed.
4. Security and safety
There are different ways of interpreting the idea of security and safety when preparing for a new dog in the household. The most obvious is finding ways to secure the dog within the home and keep them safe at all time. But, there is also the security issue of taking them out for a walk and keeping them under control. Consider the following when preparing for your new pet:
A crate/indoor kennel:
There are mixed opinions about the pros and cons of crating a dog. Some people don’t like this form of confinement. Others find it is necessary to contain the mess and energy of a young dog in training. Some dogs like to have a crate that they can turn into their own little den with toys and blankets.
Security gates in the home:
There are sure to be parts of the home that you don’t want your new dog to access. Perhaps they are banned from the bedroom. Young puppies may need some restrictions around the stairs. We put up safety gates for toddlers so why not install something similar for the dog?
Secure boundaries in the garden:
This might not be an issue if you live in a home with a secure yard with high fences. Other properties may be open to the road or have small hedges. Think about ways that you can secure the perimeter before getting the dog. A wireless dog fence could help in open areas. Also, think about boundaries around pool areas with young dogs and poor swimmers.
A collar and leash:
When it is time to take your dog for a walk they need a strong, secure collar and leash. Make sure that the color has a good fastening, enough room to move and an ID tag. The leash should connect to the collar with ease and be strong enough to last. Also, think about adding a poo-bag dispenser to the list so you are never caught without one.
5. Intimate relationships
In the doggy world, this means being able to create that strong bond with your new dog. You need to make sure that you are their master and their new best friend while establishing trust. Therefore, you need to have the following ready for them:
If you have a puppy then you will need some housebreaking aids as well as other items like clickers. Clickers can also help older dogs or rescues that need a little refresher course on good behavior.
This is where buying things for your new dog gets really fun. All dogs need toys to keep them happy and help instill that bond between you. Look for chew toys, soft toys and balls but make sure they are age and breed appropriate. Smarter dogs might also benefit from some puzzles and food-based toys.
Finally, any dog in training needs some yummy treats to help them focus on their task – or any time that they’ve been a good boy. Don’t overdo the treats in the excitement of getting a new dog or else they might get the wrong idea.
Creating a Plan of Action Based on Your Situation
It is important to remember that specific lists of items and individual needs will vary depending on the breed and their current situation. Many guides on preparing for a new dog will focus on the idea of getting a puppy. In this situation, you may lean more towards the toys and training aids. You may also have a lot longer to prepare and choose all the best items. This isn’t going to be the case if you are taking in an older dog or a rescue. Perhaps you are saving a dog from a shelter and only have days to pick them up.
That is why it is crucial to build that hierarchy and prioritize items based on the needs of the individual animal. Get the most basic physiological needs addressed first with food, water and a comfortable bed. If you are short on time then at least the animal is safe and you can bring in the rest of the items while they are home. If the dog is a senior with medical conditions than you can tailor the items to those criteria. Ensure that medical issues are more of a priority.
There is No Perfect List of Items That Will Suit Every Single Dog
You may also find that you get things wrong at first and the dog doesn’t like the feel of the bed, the sound of a toy or the taste of the food. Listen, learn and try again. As long as you are always prepared to provide that perfect environment and make your new pet happy, you should do fine.