Congratulations on bringing home a new puppy or dog into your family!  Whether you've just brought home a new dog or puppy to join your family, there are preparations to make and things to consider before your new furry family member moves into his new home.  

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Tips for bringing home a new puppy or dog.  Adding a new dog or puppy to your family
My dog Phoebe, shortly after we adopted her



When getting a new puppy or dog, the entire family should be in agreement on where your new canine family member will sleep, who will feed and walk her, and what areas of the home your new dog will be allowed in. 

Does everyone know whether or not the puppy will be allowed on the furniture?  Do the kids think she'll be sleeping in their beds but you plan to have her sleep in her crate?  Are you expecting young children to be responsible for feeding and potty walks? I hope not without close supervision, because that often doesn't work out too well!

If everyone isn't consistent with the new dog's routine and rules of the household, your dog may become confused which can lead to unwanted behavior and make training difficult.


You don't have to run out out and buy every specialized pet supply item they sell for puppies and dogs.  Before your pup comes home though, you should have the essentials on this New Puppy Checklist ready for your new dog's arrival.

Food appropriate for the age of your puppy or dog
 Food and water bowls
 Dog Bed
 Dog Crate
 Chew Toys
 Collar and Leash
 Dog waste bags (always Scoop your dog's Poop!)
 Pet cleaning supplies ('cause you know there will be accidents & messes, even with an older dog)
 Pet Brush or comb
 Shampoo for dogs (don't use human shampoo on puppies or dogs!)

You may also want to get a Pet Gate.  You can use a human baby gate or a gate for pets, they're not all that different.  A dog gate helps you contain your dog before giving her the run of the entire house.  I found a gate to be very useful when Icy was a puppy.  It prevented her from chasing the cat and getting into things she shouldn't!


Do a pet safety check in the house.  Puppies and dogs love to chew and they'll chew on anything that catches their eye. Many household items can be dangerous for dogs to chew.  Get down on the floor and peer all around to see what your pup might spot that could catch her attention.  

Remove anything that looks dangerous or inappropriately chewable.  Look for things like wires, TV remotes, cell phones, shoes, purses, kids toys, plants (many plants/flowers are toxic to pets!) cords from window blinds or curtains, string, toilet bowl water lines (that's why you never want to lock your dog in a bathroom, you could end up with a flood!), and pretty much anything else that catches her eye!  

Empty snack bags are also a hazard as they can cause suffocation. Never leave those lying around! 

Needless to say, be sure to lock up all medications and household cleansers.  Child safety locks on lower cabinets containing cleansers or medications are a great idea. Most of those are highly toxic to dogs and cats, and if your new pup gets into them it could be disastrous!


Introducing your new puppy or dog to family members and pets who already live in the home should be slow and not chaotic.  If possible, introduce your dogs to the new puppy or dog in a neutral place. Many shelters, rescues, and quality breeders encourage you to bring your current dog in to meet the one you're going to take home, which is a great idea. 

Once you bring your new dog home, don't let the kids or other pets rush at your new pup, that can frighten her!  Let the kids meet her one at a time and tell them to move slowly and speak to the dog softly.  Screaming, squealing kids can be scary to a dog!

Bringing Home a New Puppy or Dog,  Checklist for New puppy
Phoebe is extremely mellow and my Siberian Husky, Icy, is super friendly, I think that's why they got along right from the start.

Keep your other pets at a distance at first.  It can be unsettling to them having a new family member join the pack.  I like to introduce pets slowly.  When I bring home new pets or foster dogs I place them in another room before I make the introductions.  

I rub a blanket over the new pet to get their scent on it. Then I let my dogs smell it. I give them a treat as they're catching the scent of the new dog so it creates a positive association with the new dog's scent even before they go nose to nose! 

Then I let the dogs sniff each other under the door and give them all some treats.  When I'm ready to open the door and let them see each other I keep them all on leash, about 10 feet away from each other.  

I give them all treats as they see each other, provided none of them are growling or barking.  You don't want to encourage or reward growling or barking.  Try to create that positive association.  You may need your significant other or a friend to help you make the introductions and give the treats.

Once they're all calm I'll bring them closer to each other, one at a time, to sniff & greet.  You don't want 2 dogs and 3 cats approaching your new pup all at once, that could be overwhelming!  

If anyone displays negative reactions like growling, lunging, or excessive barking, I move them further away from each other, wait until everyone is calm, and try again.  I never yell at them, I keep my voice calm and keep the interactions positive.  

When introducing cats and dogs, follow the same process ensuring the dog stays on a leash and the cat has a place to easily get away from the dog.  A place higher up is usually helpful so the cat feels safe. 

When I first brought Icy home she couldn't wait to play with my cat Maggie!  She kept trying to continually chase her around at every opportunity and it was pure chaos.  Teaching Icy the Leave It! command is the only thing that saved everyone's sanity!

Sometimes it takes awhile and sometimes they all get along right away, it depends on the pets.  Every dog or cat is an individual. The most important thing is to have patience, lots of patience!


Even if the breeder or the animal shelter/rescue you got your pup from has given vaccinations and done an exam, you should schedule a Veterinary appointment.  A thorough wellness check is always a good idea.

BRINGING HOME A NEW PUPPY OR DOG, Bringing home a new dog, Bringing home a new puppy at 8 weeks
Schedule an initial Veterinarian appointment for your new puppy or dog

Please,  make sure your new puppy or dog has these 2 things right away; Tags with your updated contact information and a Microchip. I can't tell you how much heartbreak I've seen with devastated owners at the animal shelter after losing their dog.  When a dog or cat enters the shelter the first thing staff do is check for a collar and tags and scan them for a microchip. 

Frightened dogs can slip out of a collar, collars break off or can be removed by well meaning (and sometimes NOT so well meaning) individuals that find your lost dog or cat.  A microchip is the size of a grain of rice.  Injecting the chip is quick and simple.  It's very inexpensive if it's done at an animal shelter, and approximately $50 at the Vet.

Tags + Microchip = Pets Get Home Safe  
It's that simple.  Please, Do It!

If your dog hasn't already been spayed or neutered, please get that taken care of as soon as possible.  Talk to your Veterinarian about whether or not your puppy is old enough to be spayed/neutered.  If she's not old enough, make the appointment in advance and mark your calendar!

You may want to consider Pet Insurance.  Because of the high cost of Vet care, many dog owners are buying pet insurance.  You never know what might come up in terms of illness or injury.  It's something to think about. 


Try to bring your new puppy or dog home when you will have at least a few days to spend together.  A new home can be confusing and frightening to a puppy or an older dog.  You don't want to bring a new dog home only to leave her all alone for hours while you go to work. Make sure an adult is present for the first several days at least.  

Bringing your new puppy or dog home. Things to consider when bringing your new dog or puppy home
The joyful day we brought Icy home when she was a puppy

If you can swing it, the best time to bring your new pup home is when you're able to take some time off work so you will have time to bond with your new furry family member and get her into a daily routine of feeding, pottying, playing and sleeping.


Whether your new pooch is a puppy or an adult dog, training is a must.  

Both older dogs and puppies will need potty training. Even if the dog was previously housetrained, they still need to learn when they will be able to potty, where they will potty, who will take them out to potty and at what times.  

I recommend frequent potty walks at first to try to establish a routine and learn how often and when your dog needs to do his business.  Icy always poops right after breakfast, but Phoebe never pooped until several hours later.  I learned when and how often each of them needed to go out and I had it down to a science!

Housetraining a puppy is more work and takes more time.  I recommend googling how to housetrain a puppy and deciding which method works best for you.  

I'll say one thing, you want to start off taking them out on a leash so you can direct your puppy where to potty, even if it's in the yard. You don't want them toileting all over the entire yard, right?  

Take them out very frequently, perhaps every hour the first day or two and see when they are most likely to need a potty break.  Right after eating, sleeping, and playing are the most common times puppies will need a potty break.

I highly recommend using a crate and crate training your puppy or dog.  A crate is such a useful tool.  It's not just a potty training element, it actually functions as a safe place for your dog to call her own.  She won't get stepped on in there, she can retreat to her crate to get away from noise or when guests arrive.  

I thought of my dogs' crates as their bedrooms.  We don't need crates much anymore, over time they came to prefer just having their own beds in the living room.  A crate should never be used as a punishment, that's just cruel!

I also highly recommend signing both puppies and dogs up for basic obedience training classes.  Puppies in general need much more training than older dogs, but a dog is never too old to train.  Training can re-enforce basic obedience commands and be a great bonding activity. It certainly was great bonding and fun for Icy and I!

If you don't want to pay for formal training classes, watch some training videos on YouTube or get some books on dog training. Some of my favorites are  Dog Training Books by Victoria Stilwell and Andrea Arden (Both have hosted shows on Animal Planet).  Terra Nova also publishes very good dog breed and dog training books.  I've bought several of them.

Whichever trainer you choose, make certain they only use positive reinforcement dog training!  Please, no punishment methods of training.

Finally, BE PATIENT!!  A new home is a huge change for any puppy or dog, so please understand they will need your patience, understanding and kindness at all times.  Their world has been turned upside down a bit and they need to figure how things will work in their new home and what you expect of them.  They'll need time to observe & learn the ropes!  

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Do you have any favorite tips on bringing a new puppy or dog home to share?  Tell us in the comments!


We travel with our dogs in the car a LOT.  Whether it's short rides to dog friendly parks and beaches or a cross country road trip with the dogs, traveling safely with our dogs in the car is a priority.  That's why I use a Dog Car Safety Harness that attaches to my car's seatbelt to keep my dogs secure in the car.

Keep dogs safe riding in the car, use a dog car safety harness. Pet safety, Dog safety, car safety for dogs
I didn't always use a travel safety harness for my dogs, but I do now!

Although my personal preference is a car safety harness for dogs, there are other ways to keep dogs safe in the car.  Some of my friends like to use a crate in the car for their dogs. Others like to use a pet carrier for dogs while riding in the car.  Whichever pet safety product you choose to use in the car, it will probably work very well as long as it keeps the dog secured.

Some things dog owners should never do when riding in a vehicle with dogs:

🐶 Dogs should never ride in the front seat.  

If there's an accident, a dog or cat can be thrown through the windshield on impact. 

Dogs can also be injured by the impact of an inflating airbag, the one in front of them and possibly even an airbag to the side of the dog. 

It's also possible that a dog can potentially be smothered if a front seat airbag inflates, especially if the dog is small.

Needless to say, pets should never ride on the driver's lap!  That can be a big distraction to the driver, which by default creates a safety issue for the driver, their pet, and others on the road.  As I stated above, the dog can be thrown through the windshield or smothered by an inflating airbag.  I shudder to think what could happen to a dog on the driver's lap in the event of a head-on collision!

🐶 Don't let your dog hang his head out the window of a moving car

Although many dogs love it, dogs should not hang their head out the window of a moving car.   The dog's head could hit another vehicle beside them, or the side mirror of a vehicle next to them.  They could hit their head on a low hanging tree branch, a bicycle rider, or any other object close to the car. 

Dirt and debris can fly into a dog's eyes and could cause injury to the eye. 

Travel Safely in the car with dogs by using a dog travel safety harness that attaches to the car's seat belt.  Dog safety, Pet safety, Cat safety.  Riding in the car with pets.
My eyes are far too precious, not to mention pretty, to get dirt in them by hanging my head out the window!  Also, I don't want to get smacked in the head by a Mack truck.

If the car window is open enough, a dog can jump out.  If they become startled or see something irresistible on the street like a squirrel or cat, they just might jump out the window.  Dog owners who think their dog would never, ever jump out the car window should think again. Shih Tzu Happens, I always say!  Why take the chance of your dog jumping out of a moving car into traffic?!  Perish the thought!

🐶 Never put a dog in an open truck flatbed!

Please, please don't drive with your dog in an open truck bed!  I saw this a lot when we lived in Phoenix and it made me cringe.

I once saw a Siberian Husky puppy riding in an open truck bed with a little girl. The dog's leash appeared to be tied down inside the truck bed but it didn't look like the girl was secured at all.  Even if the girl was secured somehow, that is still a massive NO-NO!  It was all I could do not to scream at the driver through the window and deliver a swift lecture. 

The dangers of a dog in an open truck bed should be obvious.  Even if he's tied down, what will happen to the dog in the event of an accident?!  What if the dog tried to jump out of the truck?  He could very well be pulled under the tires or be dragged along by his leash and strangled.

Dogs should ride safely in the back seat or the rear of the vehicle, and they should be secured either by a dog safety harness, a dog crate, or a pet carrier, with the carrier being secured to the seatbelt and the crate being secured in the rear of the car.

🚗 How does a dog Car Safety Harness work?

A dog travel harness is easy to use.  It goes on the dog just like any other harness but it has an additional loop you can put a seat belt strap through and buckle it to the car's seat belt.

This short video (2 mins) demonstrates how to use a dog car seat belt harness to keep dogs safe in the car. I'm using a dog travel safety harness from Four Paws, which I got on but there are many others out there.  A car safety belt harness for dogs usually works with any car seat belt system.  Attaching a dog safety harness to a seat belt in the car is similar to securing a child safety seat to the car's seat belt.

If you get out of your car unexpectedly, an unsecured dog may panic and jump out!

If you are involved in a car accident, even a minor one, your dog can panic and try to get out of the car when a door is opened.   I'm not about scare tactics, but I think it's important to know the risks of not securing your pet in the car. 

I'll end this post with two disturbing stories.   Not long ago I read about a woman driving with her German Shepherd when they had a minor accident with another car.  When she got out of the car to exchange insurance information with the other driver she didn't close her door fast enough.  Her dog, who was in the back seat, panicked and jumped out of the car into traffic.  He was struck by another car and killed.  The tragic loss of her beautiful dog could have been prevented if the dog was secured in the back seat.

I remember this 2003 story all too well.  A family was traveling on vacation with their beloved Pit Bull mix dog, Patton.  Due to poor communication and a case of mistaken identity, the family was pulled over by police and forced out of the car.  Their sweet, friendly dog wasn't secured in the car and jumped out.  One of the Officers felt "threatened" because of the dog's assumed Pit Bull breed.  He shot and killed their beloved dog.  This story haunts me so much. Every time I think about this family's tragic loss, it makes me sick to my stomach.  Would a nervous police officer feel threatened by Icy, my Siberian Husky?  Perhaps.  

You can read more about the heartbreaking story of this family's loss in my post Fight Breed Discrimination, Not Dogs.  

Car Safety Harness For Dogs.  Keep dogs safe in the car with a travel safety harness for dogs.  Dogs, Pets, Pet safety, Dogs travel safely
To ensure my dogs ride safely in the car we, use a Dog Safety Harness 

All these potential dangers have made me a convert.  I no longer put my dogs in the car without securing them in the back seat.  A few extra minutes is well worth it, their lives are far too precious to take chances with their safety. 

Once your pup is safe in the car take a fun road trip with your dog to one of these fabulous dog friendly destinations!

How do you keep your pet safe while riding in the car?  Leave us a comment and share your car safety tips for pets!