Getting a dog is often a joyous occasion, and many people remember the day their canine companion first sees his or her forever home for years to come. Before introducing your new furry friend to the house, use the guide below to help you prepare for the big day and make your home a place your pooch will love.

Look at Your Budget

Adopting or buying a dog has both up-front and long-term expenses. You’ll often need to pay adoption fees, and there will also be up-front and yearly veterinary bills. Food, toys, treats, crates and dog houses all quickly add up in cost. To decide whether the time is right to welcome a dog into your life, take an honest look at your budget. Ask local pet facilities about their adoption fees and check with area vets about prices for routine services. You may also wish to shop around for prices on dog food and other necessities. Factor in all these items, and make sure that your budget can support your new pet.

Puppy-Proof Your Home

Puppy-proofing your home before your dog’s arrival will help you feel more relaxed, and it can keep your pet out of trouble, too. Buying a puppy means buying into responsibilities like making sure there are no easily accessible hazardous materials that might harm the puppy. Make sure that you cover wall sockets, stow chemicals out of reach, and remove any plants from the floor or other areas that the pet could reach. Puppies love to dig in the dirt and chew flower blooms, even poisonous ones. In addition, consider getting covers for your sofa and other chairs to reduce pet hair and the potential for stains. Pick up some cleaning supplies that are specifically designed for treating messes that your new puppy could make. You can also get non-toxic sprays to deter furniture chewing.

Prepare Your Yard

If you have a backyard or outdoor space, making a few minor adjustments to it before your puppy comes home can help to protect your pet’s safety. For example, if your yard has a fence, ensure that it has no rotten wood or spaces where your pup could escape. Putting concrete blocks or heavy items along the bottom of the fence is generally effective at keeping your pet from digging under the fence and going out of the yard. An invisible fence is another useful option. Lastly, ensure that you have no poisonous plants in your yard that your dog could reach.

Understand the Responsibility

If this is your first time owning a pet, then it’s important to have a full understanding of your new responsibilities as a pet parent. You will be wholly responsible for the dog’s food, health, playtime, and care. In addition to caring for your puppy’s basic need, make sure that you’re up to the task of training. Your new pet needs to be well behaved and socialized so as to improve your pup’s quality of life and prevent accidents from occuring. Gary S. Greenberg explains that if a dog bites someone, then this typically indicates an owner who hasn’t taken the time to train their pet. Understand that you will be responsible when your pet misbehaves, so make sure you’re up to the task of training.

Find a Good Veterinarian

AAHA recommends finding a veterinarian in advance of your dog’s homecoming means you’ll always have someone to call for any unexpected mishaps or emergencies, especially those that might occur in the first few days. To find a respected vet, consider asking friends and family who already have dogs, and visit the vet’s office, too. Ask about boarding, grooming and other extra services that may be available as well. Before choosing a vet, it can be helpful to visit at least three facilities.

Make a Schedule

Dogs need to have time each day for food, exercise and play, and particularly active dogs may need to have more than one walk per day. To keep this manageable, it can be helpful to schedule regular times on the calendar for your dog’s neighborhood walks and exercise. If you have housemates or family members living with you, consider asking them to help with some of the exercise and feeding activities for your new puppy, and create a schedule that works for everyone.

Consider Your Other Pets

If you have other pets, including cats or other dogs, consider their needs before deciding to take on a new dog. When considering whether to get a new puppy or older dog, it can be helpful to arrange a meeting with the dogs or cats you currently have. A meet and greet will let you gauge whether the new canine would get along well enough with your current pet family, and you can ask about the pet’s temperament, too. Selecting a new dog who already gets along with your existing domestic animals can make the adjustment process easier for all people and pets involved.

Using the tips above can help make your new furry friend’s housewarming a joyful and memorable experience. As you and your pet get to know each other, always feel free to talk to your veterinarian and other pet owners about any questions you may have.

Do you want a dog but have allergies? Check out this list of dog breeds for people with allergies.