What I Wish I Knew Before Bringing Home a Dog

I’m giving out really good, free advice today including some great handouts from reknown veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Sophia Yin. 


  1. Find the dog that fits your family. 
  • Consider the energy level of the dog! Most dogs need upwards of 30-60 minutes of exervise every day. Every day.
  • Is the dog social or aloof with people or dogs? Is the dog easily excitable or relatively relaxed?
  • What job was the dog born to do? Dogs that wer
  • arn how to give the grooming, training, and veterinary care your dog will need ahead of time!

Don’t pick a breed due to its popularity.

This doodle is incredibly high energy, social, but requires early socialization and a lot of training to prevent bad manners – such as jumping. This dog may not fit with your family’s life style.


2. Be prepared to socialize. For life.

  • Begin as soon as your dog is up to date for his age. That means puppies 8-10 weeks old will only have had one set of vaccines. They are ready to begin now!
  • The most important time to socialize is until a puppy is about 14-16 weeks of age.
  • Socialization entails more than exposing  your dog to new things. Exposure isn’t enough – we must make those experiences positive.
  • Failing to socialize and train can lead to aggression or other undesirable behaviors. Behavior is the leading cause of death in dogs under 3 years of age.

Follow this socialization check list from reknown Veterinary Behaviorist, Dr. Sophia Yin. You can view the original here.


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3. Use a Crate 

  • Teach your dog to love the crate (immediately).
  • Practice using the crate for no reason so that you give yourself an opportunity to further your dog’s new found love of the crate.
  • The crate is a happy place – not punishment.

4. Supervise, constantly!

  • Listen, your adult dog is as intellectually developed as a toddler. Puppies, less so. Treat your dog like he’s got crayon on the wall.
  • You can’t entirely puppy proof your house. Some dogs will eat drywall and couches. I’m sure you’ve seen.
  • Use the crate when you are unable to supervise (and just for practice!)

5. Exercise

  • Know that exercise can make or break behavioral issues.
  • Your dog will not exercise himself in the backyard. If you think this counts, you’re in trouble.petparlor.jpeg
  • Consider hiring Pat Thompson and her team from The Pet Parlor to provide exercise and potty breaks during the day while you work or are away from home. 


6. Learn to identify stress, fear, and other undesirable behaviors in your dog – and other dogs.

  • Early warning signs can include destructive behavior, excess uncontrollable energy, lack of attention, signs of separation anxiety, and so much more.
  • Be prepared to rescue your dog from a situation if your dog displays excessive fear or inappropriate behavior.
  • Study resources like this. More information is also available from Dr. Sophia Yin to study more on body language.



7. Don’t get a dog and expect your kids to do all of the work.

  • Kids (and some teenagers) are not responsible enough to meet the complex needs of a dog.
  • Dogs require extensive supervision, socialization, exercise, and training which is difficult for children to entirely fulfill this role. 
  • Dog training is a family affair. Expect for everyone in the family to be involved! If you aren’t involved too, it will not end well.

8. Create and follow rules for your family and dogs (100% of the time!)

Here’s just a few of the rules in my house:

  • Rule #1 Privileges must be earned.
  • Rule #2 Say Please when you want attention, toys, play, food, anything really.
  • Rule #3 I control access to all resources. Ask politely.
  • Rule #3 You can come on the couch… but this is my seat.
  • Rule #4 You must wait for me to give you permission to exit a door, cross the street, or meet new friends.
  • Rule #5 Stay on your mat while all guests enter the house.

Practice Learn to Earn developed by Dr. Sophia Yin.

learntoearn9. You MUST formally train your dogs.

  • Begin training the moment you bring your dog home.

  • Training a dog is a life long affair. 

  • Plan to spend approximately 30 minutes training each day. Practice in multiple sessions for short amounts of time.

  • Accept responsiblity for your dog’s behavior. Failing to socialize and train may learn to undesireable, and even unsafe behavior. 

10. Begin loose leash walking immediately.





  • Do not wait a single second to start teaching this skill as many people rely on walks as their dog’s form of exercise.
  • Always use a leash with buckle collar with tags (or harness) unless in a safely contained area. Always. No exceptions. You ruin it for other everyone else when you don’t. 

11. Do Happy Visits at the Vet and Groomer

  • Always bring treats to practice addressing fear, and teaching manners in a busy place like the vet or groomer.
  • Don’t rely on a groomer or vet to socialize your dog. Desensitize your dog to frequent nail trims (and the Dremel) to prevent long nails for life. Frequent grinding can help keep quicks short.

12. Keep Kids Safe and Dogs Happy

  • Do not leave your children unsupervised with any dog for any reason.
  • Teach all children to interact safely. No rough housing, grabbing fur or tails, no sitting or laying on dogs, and never disrupt a dog while eating or sleeping.






  • Don’t assume you know everything (or that I know everything!)
  • If you haven’t trained a puppy before, or its been a few years, its a good idea.
  • Do not rely on Google searches or unprofessional YouTube videos.
  • Ask before the behavior escalates so it can be addressed more quickly.


I’ve learned from my mistakes. Doing so has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and ideas. May you take the opportunity to grow with your dog.


More Mistakes to Learn From

  1. Supervise your dog on a tie out. Use a secure harness (never a collar of any kind).
  2. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the back yard. They may climb fences, fight with neighbor dogs, or even dig a hole to China.


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