Texas Living

Looking After Your Furry Friend

By Kristy Alpert and Valirie Morgan 10.24.16

There’s nothing better than seeing a wagging tail waiting at the front door when you return home, or the excitement on your child’s face when he or she sees a puppy in a park. But being a dog owner comes with a lot of responsibility.

It’s important to know how to prepare to bring your new pet home and how to care for it. Once you take home a dog, you’re responsible for its safety — and the safety of the people who come into contact with it. 

The Insurance Information Institute estimates dog bites and other dog-related injuries make up more than one-third of property insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2014. But the right care and precautions can prevent liability and ensure your dog becomes a happy, well-adjusted member of your family.


Here are a few essential ways to roll out the welcome mat for your new friend.

  • Consider your responsibilities. If you travel often or work long hours, who will take care of your dog? Pets require time, attention, and money, so be sure you can commit to the responsibility before adopting.
  • Do your research. It’s a good idea to look into different breeds, sizes, and training techniques. Visit shelters, where staff can help you narrow down the decision based on your lifestyle, preferences, and other factors. Petfinder is another good resource.
  • Set up your space. Once you have your pooch picked out, make sure you have an indoor space ready, with an appropriate-size bed or crate. Indoor pet gates might help your new friend get used to certain rooms and stay out of ones they’re not ready for.
  • Fence in your yard. You want your pet to be able to play outside without danger of getting lost.
  • Go through your house with a “dog’s-eye view.” Determine what you might need to move or block access to. Think about whether you want to cover or move nice furniture. Be sure to move cords and wires out of an animal’s reach and use outlet covers to protect your dog from electrical shock. 
  • Stock up on supplies. Pick out food, treats, a collar, a leash, chew toys, and food and water bowls to welcome your pet home.


These are the first things you need to take care of when you bring your pet home.

  • Get a complete checkup. Find a good veterinarian and ask about spaying or neutering your pet if it wasn’t done at the shelter, as well as any necessary vaccinations and medications.
  • Get identification tags and register your dog with local animal services. Some owners choose to get their pets microchipped at the vet’s office, which typically costs around $45. 
  • Set a schedule for feeding, walking, and bathing your pup, and stick to it so it becomes a routine. Dogs respond well to predictable day-to-day activities. Try the PetDiary app to keep you on track.


Even though we all think of dogs as man’s best friend, it’s important to remember they’re still animals and can react unpredictably when scared or excited.

  • Sign up immediately for obedience training. It’s important to build good habits young.
  • Educate yourself about your dog’s breed and their different behavioral and health qualities.
  • Work on house training from day one to get your dog used to his or her new home. 
  • Adopted dogs often need extra reassurance and bonding time, so give your furry friend at least an hour of attention each day. 


When it comes to socializing your dog, do it early and often! Many dogs that do not have sufficient experience with strangers (human or canine) may bite or show aggression out of fear.

  • Don’t wait to take your dog out in public. Introduce your dog to new people daily to get him or her used to meeting new people.
  • Don’t discriminate on size. It’s good to let your dog interact with breeds of all sizes to deter fear or aggression.
  • Don’t teach your dog aggressive games like tug-of-war or chasing after you; focus instead on fetch and other nonthreatening games.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the 4.5 million dog bite reports each year occur to children; so it’s a good idea to teach your child these tips about animal safety long before he or she comes into contact with a dog.

  • Don’t leave your child with your dog unattended, no matter the size.
  • Always approach a dog slowly and from where it can see you.
  • Never put your face near a dog’s face.
  • Always let a dog that doesn’t know you well sniff you before you try to pet it.
  • Never hit or kick a dog.
  • Always ask permission before petting someone else’s dog.
  • Only use polite petting on a dog (i.e., no patting, pulling, or poking).
  • Don’t disrupt a dog while it’s sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Never steal a dog’s toy from its mouth.
  • Do not tease a dog.
  • Don’t make loud noises around a dog.
  • Stay away from stray dogs.
  • Always report any unusual dog behavior or a dog bite to an adult right away.

Keep your furry friends safe when they’re out in the cold, too.

© 2016 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance