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Homecoming Preparations for Your New Dog

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Introducing family members
Introducing your new dog to other family members requires some planning, especially if the family includes children or other pets. And, if they don't already know, all household members should be shown how to handle a dog safely.

A slow, quiet approach is best for acclimating your dog to his new home. Remember, the newcomer is in a strange place and may be nervous at first. Smaller children need to learn that their new friend is not a stuffed animal, but a living creature with feelings. As a new pet parent, you should be present when all introductions take place. Also, infants are best kept out of the picture until your dog has settled into his new environment.

If you have other pets in the household, your newcomer should encounter them only under your constant observation. If any pets seem nervous upon introduction, it's best to keep them in separate quarters for a while, until they become accustomed to each other's scent within your home.

Some growling (from dogs) or hissing and tail fluffing (from cats) is normal at this point in new pet relationships. These actions are signs that a pet is afraid.

Some new house rules
Until your new dog becomes familiar with your home, it is wise to make sure everyone understands the importance of:

* Keeping windows and doors shut so your dog won't get lost outside your home
* Not leaving people food out in the open where it might tempt your dog
* Keeping toilet lids down to prevent potential drowning

Dog-proofing your home
Dogs (puppies in particular) can be quite curious. Assume your new friend will attempt to get into things he shouldn't. Here are a few tips for new pet parents.

Poisonous to pets
There are many household substances that can be poisonous to your dog if ingested, such as chocolate and aspirin for humans. Many houseplants are also poisonous if eaten. Among the most common problem houseplants are Azaleas, Oleander, Mistletoe, Sago Palm, Easter Lily, and Yew plants. You need to give some thought to the dangers posed by your car and garage, too. Dogs are attracted to automotive antifreeze, which is poisonous to them (and humans) and can kill, even in small quantities. Take steps to ensure that all containers are tightly capped and kept in a closed cabinet. If possible, use non-toxic antifreeze.

Household hazards
You need to check your tables, shelves, and counters thoroughly for breakable items your dog might disrupt or shatter. Anything extremely fragile should be moved to an inaccessible spot. A puppy in the chewing stage should never be left alone in a room with floor-level electrical cords. Additionally, drapes, cords, and strings can be dangerous or deadly for dogs who get their heads caught in the loops. It's a good idea to cut the ends of the loops of dangling cords so your dog will not be able to get himself into trouble when you're not watching.

Lastly, always keep a watchful eye for small items (rubber bands, strings, etc.) that may fall onto the floor and become irresistible to your dog. Small items like these can be swallowed and can cause serious harm to your dog's digestive system. Also, it's wise to always look under your car before turning it on if you suspect your dog might seek out a shady, protected spot for a nap. A simple, quick check can eliminate the chance of a terrible accident.

Getting off on the right paw
The day you bring home your new puppy or dog will be an exciting one, and this new addition to your family will be counting on a number of things to keep him happy, healthy, and properly cared for. The best way you can show how much you love your new friend is to choose a good veterinarian in advance. Ideally, your veterinarian's facility will be located close to your home. Many of our PetSmart stores have our trusted partner, Banfield, the Pet Hospital™, located on site to provide your dog with excellent health care. Keep your veterinarian's name and phone number in a convenient place. If your veterinarian does not offer emergency services, ask her for the name and phone number of the nearest animal emergency facility. Keep this information handy, just in case.

The importance of a collar and ID tag
An ID tag is a lost dog's ticket home. The tag should include your address and day and evening phone numbers.

Feeling right at home
Before you bring your new dog home, make sure you have established a comfortable living environment that will take as much stress as possible out of the transition. This should include a comfortable bed in a quiet place, a proper area for him to relieve himself, and separate bowls for food and fresh water, as well as toys to keep your new family member stimulated and occupied.

Meeting your dog's basic needs
Before you bring your new dog home, there are a few items to purchase and services to schedule for a healthier, happier dog. All of these items are available at PetSmart and will help you prepare.

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