When you first became a dog owner, there’s a good chance you knew very little about dogs. All you did was take a trip to the local shelter and proudly put your sign on the dotted line. There you are with a little friend you can’t wait to play with around the house. One of the things you might have read on the tiny index card bio is that your canine friend is good and playful with kids, is house trained and very social. Of course, she could respond to basic commands and everything looked interesting.

What you didn’t know is that owning a dog comes with its own share of responsibilities. In fact, it’s a big responsibility. Many people never realize this until when they soon notice there are things they might not have prepared for in advance. This article highlights three things every dog owner should do once they’ve brought their new friend home.

Help your Canine Friend Get Comfortable with the New Environment

You’ve just brought the dog to a new environment and you need to ensure she gets comfortable as soon as possible. A good place to start is determining where she will sleep. Do you want your new family member to have access to everywhere in your home? Will she be gated off or be in a crate? You might consider running some important tests over the weekend.

Remember a dog, whether young or adult, can develop new unwanted habits in new surroundings. Try leaving the dog home alone for about fifteen minutes and see how she behaves. Before you leave, gate off some of the areas and even close the bedroom doors as safety measures. You might want to dog-proof open, accessible areas.

Ensure there are no game pieces or treasured stuffed animals for your kids lying around. All you’re trying to do is set up your new family member for success and safety. Come back after some time and find out how she managed in your absence. Did your new canine friend just get to the couch and sleep? Can you see anything that’s been suspiciously removed from your countertops? Did the dog try to overturn the trash can? Can you see any signs of separation anxiety?

The observations and findings you make will help you determine the level of freedom to give your new family member in the house.

Consider taking your Dog to the Vet

Don’t assume everything is fine with your dog. Schedule an appointment with a trusted, professional veterinarian. If you’ve noticed any red flags in the dog’s health and well-being this is the right person to share with. Raise any concerns or questions that might have come up for the few days you’ve had the dog. It’s also important that you bring along the documents you were given at the breeder or shelter. This may include spay, neuter or rabies certificate.

Find a Good and Reputable Dog Walker

Remember your new family member will need exercise to improve her health and mental stimulation. Dog walking improves pet behavior as it allows your dog to meet other people and animals thereby encouraging proper socialization. If you have an adult dog, it’s a good idea to take her for a break outside every 4 to 5 hours. That’s where a dog walking service comes in. be sure to hire a dog walking company that puts your pet’s safety first, always. Also make sure the dog walking service is licensed, bonded, and insured. Hiring a dog walker will not only save you time but provide you with the peace of mind that your canine friend is safe and well taken care of, despite your busy schedule.