The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Airedale Terriers" by Andrea Berman. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Andrea BermanThe original title of this chapter was “Preparing Your Home for Your New Arrival,” but we thought long and hard and decided that it was not only the home that needed preparing. It also needed to include the PEOPLE (and other pets) in that home. Is everyone ready for this new adventure? Think about bringing a new baby home from the hospital. You’ve been preparing for 9 months, and that squirming, cuddly, precious baby will need a warm place to sleep, appropriate feeding supplies, clothing, a stack of diapers, cuddly toys, and all the accoutrements that go along with this little bundle of joy. And, of course, a family who is committed to welcoming, caring for, and loving the new addition.
Even with all the preliminary work done, no amount of preparation can foretell what’s about to launch your household into the uncharted experience of adding another member to your previously safe and sane environment. Likewise, you can’t just bring home a new dog and expect life to be all rainbows and unicorns from the get-go. Whether that new family member is a puppy, an older dog, or a gray-muzzled senior, some preplanning is necessary. Let the fun begin!
Choosing a Veterinarian
If you already have pets, and a veterinarian you’ll be taking your new dog to, that’s one item you can check off your “to-do” list. If you’re in need of how to go about choosing a vet, we have some suggestions. Begin the process by asking all of your dog parent friends for referrals, and the reasons why they take their dogs to that particular veterinary practice. Listen to the answers and decide for yourself what your priorities are.
For instance, one neighbor may have chosen a certain vet because the practice has extended hours to include early morning, late night, or weekend appointments. If your work schedule is inflexible, take this into consideration. Some dog owners would rather use a small veterinary practice, where the same vet will usually be on duty and will become familiar with the dog. Other dog owners would prefer a larger practice, where, in case of emergency, there is a better chance of getting medical care immediately, whether or not that doctor is one who routinely sees the dog.
Location should also be an important consideration when choosing a vet, because: (a) emergencies happen and (b) frequent visits also happen. Cousin Charlotte may have been bringing Fluffy to Dr. Smith for years, but if Dr. Smith’s office is an hour away from where you live, it may not be a good choice for you.
If you don’t know anyone in your area who can give you some guidance as to which vet to see, many towns have Facebook or neighborhood-based web pages where you can ask for recommendations. I have used my community’s page to find referrals for everything from plumbers to acupuncture, and have always been impressed with the number of helpful people who are willing to share their best endorsements. (Of course, do NOT give out any information to anyone you do not personally know. Just a word of internet caution, sprinkled with a bit of common sense.)
On the other hand, if someone tells you NOT to see a certain vet, ask why, and what the extenuating circumstance might have been. Could it have been a personal issue? Financial? Ethics? Personality? People hold grudges for reasons big and small, so determine what’s best for you and your dog.
Choose several potential veterinary practices, and make appointments to visit before your new dog comes into your home. First impressions are important. Is the practice clean and sanitary? Is their equipment up to date? What about the general atmosphere? Is the staff helpful and welcoming? Do they see many Airedale Terriers and are they familiar with possible health and genetic issues that may be inherent in the breed? If you’re planning to adopt an older dog, is the practice specialized or equipped to deal with geriatric dogs? If you have specific concerns, such as organic nutrition and/or holistic treatment, are they knowledgeable? Ask for a schedule of when your dog should be seen for his first and subsequent visits, and an estimate of what the charges will be for regular visits, immunizations, lab work, and annual testing. If you’re planning to subscribe to pet insurance, is the veterinary practice you select within the coverage network, and do you know what types of claims the insurance will cover?
A few more considerations when choosing a vet: Is the practice equipped to handle emergencies or will you be referred elsewhere? What type of payments are acceptable? (Some vets will not accept checks or certain credit cards.) In an emergency, will you have the necessary means to pay for your dog’s treatment? Extensive treatment can run into thousands of dollars. What is the average wait time to schedule a routine appointment? Will it be same day, same week, or a month away?
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a veterinary practice, but planning ahead can alleviate potential problems. Weigh the pros and cons. And listen to your intuition. Our gut instincts are seldom wrong!
Who’s in Charge Here, Anyway?
Before your new Airedale arrives, determine who the primary caregiver in your home will be. If dog care is to be shared equally by adults only, decide who will be responsible for feeding, walking, purchasing supplies, vet visits, day care, and daily necessities. We’re assuming (and hoping) that everyone in the household will be providing plenty of love and snuggles.
Another point to ponder, and one that can potentially lead to future problems—who’s paying for what? If everyone’s in agreement as to their financial obligations, great. If not, discuss, discuss, discuss! Leave some wiggle room for life’s “what-if’s” but try to strategize whenever possible. Remember that old saying, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”
If there are children in your household, depending upon their age and physical limitations, this is a good opportunity to address obligations, time constraints, and schedules. For the safety of your children (and the dog) please don’t expect a very young child to be capable of walking your new pet on a leash, picking up after it, or even spending time playing with it when not supervised by an adult. Someone can get hurt. A child who plays roughly can unintentionally injure a young puppy as well as an older dog. A puppy who’s in the midst of teething and play-biting can likewise hurt your child.
Only you can judge the maturity of your child, but please be realistic when doling out responsibilities. It’s up to you to teach everyone what’s expected and what’s acceptable or not. Ensure that the rules and limitations are very clear—including respect for kids’ AND dog’s personal space as well as their possessions. Dogs and children both need to understand their boundaries. There are many “how-to” books and videos geared toward children of all ages. Reading really IS fundamental, and even more so when it comes to teaching them how their new dog will become a well-loved and well-behaved member of the family. Snuggle up on the couch with the kids with some hot chocolate and a good book that explains in simple terms everything they need to know about dog care and training their new furry best friend.
Introducing Your New Pet to Other Pets in the Home
In a perfect world, everyone gets along, including pets. In the real world, not so much. This is where a little planning can go a long way toward raising a respectful, lovable canine companion. We always hope for the best possible situation—the kind you see on those cute YouTube videos: cats snuggling with dogs, Chihuahuas and Great Danes romping together in a meadow of flowers. And if you’re lucky enough to have that rare combination of animal admiration and affection, it’s a wonderful thing.
But let’s not leave it to luck. Let’s do some strategizing ahead of time and get things off on the right foot, or…paw. As a dog trainer, I would always use this example: Imagine you’re in a loving, secure home, with a partner (spouse, etc.) who means the world to you. One day, that love of your life breezes in, just in time for dinner, announces, “Honey, I’m home, and I have a surprise! Look who’s coming to live with us!” And in walks a young, handsome/beautiful stranger, who parks themselves at the dining room table, eats your food, watches your TV, and generally makes themselves at home. Forever. That’s how it can feel to your already-established-in-the-household pet when the newcomer arrives.
Even if your dog or cat (or other species of pet) is the welcoming kind, do your best to prepare everyone ahead of time. If possible, obtain an item or toy that has your new Airedale’s scent, bring it into the home, and let everyone check it out to become familiar with that “new dog smell.” When you’re ready to introduce your Airedale to another dog in the home, do it on neutral turf—a park, or somewhere your dog doesn’t consider his own territory, and enlist the help of another person. Have both animals on leash, let the dogs meet and greet, get acquainted the way dogs love to do, and keep to an upbeat, friendly atmosphere. When it’s time to bring them into the home, unless you’re sure they will be at least cordial to one another, let them stay in separate rooms, with their own beds, food and water, and toys. A baby gate between rooms works well. That way, they can see, smell, and check each other out without any potentially problematic contact. At some point, there may be some stress, jealousy, or resentment, so pay equal attention to everyone.
When bringing a new dog into a home where there’s a cat, make your cat’s safety a priority. Keep her litter box, food, and water away from your dog, in a separate and secure area where the dog cannot invade her space. Keep the dog leashed, so she cannot frighten the cat (or the cat cannot scare the dog, depending upon your cat’s personality). If they seem agreeable to meeting up close and personal, let them sniff each other while the dog remains on leash. Try placing a baby gate between rooms. It may take some time, but more often than not cats and dogs will eventually get along just fine in the same home. My own menagerie these days is composed of two cats and a dog. They all tolerate each other. They don’t especially like each other, but they’ve managed to work out a somewhat peaceful existence. Every now and then if the dog gets too up close and personal, she’ll get whacked in the head by a cat claw, but for the most part, everyone gets along, and there’s some semblance of peace on earth, goodwill toward other pets. I’ve come to accept that we’ll never witness an interspecies love-fest in our home, but there’s no bloodshed either.
We always hope that in the long run, everyone will be happy, and with a dash of commitment, a cup of preparation, and maybe a spoonful of prayers, you’ll have all the ingredients for a harmonious household recipe.
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Airedale Terriers" by Andrea Berman, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: