Ok, you’ve had a good look at all the different breeds of big dogs and have your heart set on the perfect one for your family. All you have to now do is bring him home and you’ll have a faithful friend for life right? Wrong! There are some important things that you need to attend to before bringing your newest bestest friend home. There are probably dozens of things that you’ll need to consider, but let’s keep it simple and go for the most important things. So here is a list of the 10 things to know before bringing your big dog home:
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Try to have a week at home with your new dog, uninterrupted from work and social commitments. Your new dog will need to slowly get used to his new environment, and you want to start them straight off with good habits. Where to go to the toilet, where to play, where to sleep, when to go for their daily walk. You want to quickly settle them into a daily routine.
You want to be able to bring the puppy home and immediately introduce him to his new kennel, as this is where they will be spending a lot of their time (hopefully here and not on your bed). Make sure it is the right size and made from the best material, and have it located somewhere in your yard with the opening facing your house. As long as he can lay in his kennel but still keep an eye on the house, he’ll be content waiting there for you to return home.
Don’t wait until puppy comes home to do it, because you know that little gap under the fence that you are certain nothing but a mouse could get through, well…. they will! I’m sure there’s a law of physics which states that a dog can squeeze through a hole exactly one quarter the size of their head. And make sure there is nothing in the yard which can be harmful. Things like electrical cords that they can chew, small children’s toys that they can choke on, plants that can be poisonous if eaten. Remove anything hazardous and make it a fun safe place to be.
Other things they’ll need are chewing toys, grooming brushes, and an identification tag for their collar. Have plenty of bowls of water available for them, preferably in wide flatish bowls which are difficult to topple over. And try to maintain the same kind of food that they are already on. If changing their diet, then try to do it gradually over a 2 week period to avoid any tummy complaints or the additional stress (and cleanups) that go with it.
There are a lot of responsibilities that come with owning a big dog, so make sure that each member of the household knows exactly what is expected of them. Get the kids involved as much as possible here as it is vital that they see exactly how much work can go into looking after a pet. Who will be taking them for a walk, who will be feeding them, who will be cleaning up after them (I can just hear all the dads groaning now), and whose job is it to change the bedding in the kennel?
Find yourself a good vet now and have their number close at hand. If you are not sure, then go for a quick walk in your neighborhood and ask the people you see out walking their dogs. They’ll be more than happy to recommend a good vet in your area. It’s a good idea to take the dog along for a checkup after 3 months just to make sure everything is on track, so you might as well get to know a good one now.
Try to remove most of their stray toys that they might leave lying around, as the last thing they want is the new intruder not only stealing all of their love and attention but also their toys. Sibling rivalry isn’t exclusive to children, in fact, pets take it to the next level. Don’t make them share the same bed or kennel, and try to have separate food and water bowls for them. You will need to approach this with caution as it can be pretty traumatic for them when they suddenly find that they are no longer the king of the house.
Big dogs in particular need to be socialized from an early age so what better time to do this than when they are a puppy. Get them introduced to other dogs at an early age, and make sure they (and you) are taught obedience training the correct way. You don’t want to be introducing bad habits from day one as they will be pretty hard to unlearn at a later time.
Your family needs to be trained too, so make sure that you are all doing things in the same manner and in a consistent way. You want to avoid the dog becoming confused by making sure you all use the same commands to mean the same thing. Write out a list of words if need be and try to get everybody in the household using them. This will avoid confusion and help to fast-track his training.
Sure, some dogs will behave in a way that you will instantly know what to name them or will look a certain way which makes their name pretty obvious (I haven’t seen too many dogs called Patch that don’t have a patch around one eye). And if it’s a big dog then you’ll most likely want a big dog name to match. Get the family together and decide on a name so that you can start using it from the moment your new family member arrives home.
When not writing about himself in the third person, Andy spends many an hour walking his mischievous, mixed breed rescue Mr Wox, aka Soxy Woxy. A leading authority on all dog-related topics, Andy is highly respected, deeply appreciated and widely admired.