The calm before the storm

The Calm Before the Storm


Preparing for your new dog to come home

The first day you bring your dog home is exciting, for both you and your new dog. But, not being prepared can bring unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Today we’re looking at what you can do well in advance, even before a muddy paw’s been smeared across your kitchen floor.

Register with a vet

Your dog should be booked in to see a vet on the same day, or just after you bring them home. The vet will carry out a thorough checkup of the dog’s health ensuring there are no nasties. They will also be able to advise on your dogs next vaccination steps and answer any health-related questions you may have.
You can register with a vet and organise this appointment as soon as you know the date you’re collecting your new dog.
If you have more than one vet in your local area, you’re in the lucky position of having a choice.
When choosing a vet here are some things to consider:

  • Seek out any personal recommendations from friends and family.
  • Check reviews online. But remember that vets are like GP’s, and a reviewer could have been emotionally biased when they wrote a bad review.
  • A great vet should always outweigh the cost, but money will still be a factor. Ask the veterinary practice receptionist to provide a breakdown of standard charges such as consultation fees, vaccinations, worming and flea treatment.
  • Ask if the veterinary practice has a Care Plan program. These are generally monthly plans that cover the annual costs of vaccinations, flea and worming treatment and one or two consultations, at a lower price than paying out separately.

Insure your dog

As someone that’s seen how much pets can cost when they get ill or involved in an accident, I’m glad they were all insured.
According to some, vet bills are rising at a rate of 12% a year, and the average pet insurance claim is now £750. This is serious money, and if the condition becomes ongoing, such as a skin condition that requires constant medication, you could be looking at thousands of pounds over the dogs lifetime. Some policies also help towards finding your dog if it gets lost by offering rewards or money for advertising, so it’s best to check everything that’s included.
There are generally 4 different types of pet insurance:

Lifetime pet insurance – This is the most comprehensive policy possible, and usually the most expensive. If you put it in place when your dog is young, it will cover them for life as long as you continue to pay the premium and renew it every year. This is great if your dog gets a condition that requires medication for the rest of its life.

Maximum benefit pet insurance – This type gives you an annual cost limit that you can claim up to throughout the year.

Time-limited pet insurance – This usually runs for 12 months and has a capped cost limit. If you make a claim, you won’t be able to claim for the same condition again in the future.

Accident only pet insurance – The cheapest option but it only covers treatment if your dog has an accident and won’t cover illness.

As with all financial products make sure you read the fine print and understand what you’re purchasing.

“vet bills are rising at a rate of 12% a year, and the average pet insurance claim is now £750”

Home Preparation

If you’re getting a puppy, remember they will chew and swallow anything.
Try to lift cables, especially electrical, off the floor to a height that a puppy can’t get to, even if it stands on its hind legs.
For both puppies and older dogs clear things off low coffee tables, especially anything that might be easily swiped with an excited wagging tail, and remove anything that might be toxic or dangerous. For a list of hazardous foods and plants download our guide.
Baby stair gates work really well to create a confinement area that you can quickly get in and out of. These also have an added benefit of allowing cats to get away from a dog and feel a lot safer until everyone’s used to the new family member. A confinement area helps with training, protects the dog from getting into the thing’s they shouldn’t and provides them with a safe area. This area might be your kitchen, which has nice easy to clean floors, rather than your living room with expensive rugs and furniture that your new puppy might have a little accident on!
Get a dog crate. We talk more about this in our article “What to buy for your new arrival”, but it’s a great way to create a safe environment for everyone. A crate doesn’t have to be forever, but while a puppy is young or your dog is new to you and your home, it will really help.
Be aware that puppies will get into things and climb on stuff! They’ll try to get into bags, cupboards and boxes, so make sure these are off the floor. And, it’s a good idea to block off stairs with a stairgate until you can supervise them going up and down them without falling.
Get small cardboard boxes and empty plastic bottles without the lids on for pooch to play with. They will destroy them, but they’re easy to put in the recycling bin, cost nothing, and distract them from chewing your table legs.
Basically, if you think about having a toddler in the house and times the mischief by about ten, then you’ve got a good idea of what you need to do!

Prepare your family

Make sure everyone’s on the same page. Your new arrival might be very nervous, especially if it’s just left its brothers and sisters and it’s in a new environment, so make sure everyone is as prepared as you are.
Explain the rules you’re going to use. There’s no point telling your dog off for jumping up if the rest of the family are encouraging it.
If you’re going to follow a specific routine make sure everyone knows it. Print it out, stick it on the fridge so everyone can see it.
We’ve created a Super Puppy Owner download full of feeding schedules and basic training routines you can personalise.

So to summarise, register with a vet, get your pet insurance in place and prepare your home and family in anticipation for your new arrival. Although some of these tasks can be quite difficult, early research and preparation will stop you making crazy decisions at the last minute.