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Congratulations on adopting your new dog! Here are some tips from CAP to help you keep your dog happy and healthy.  You will need supplies, like food, dishes, a collar and a leash.  Bringing a new pet into the home, particularly if you have other pets, requires a period of acclimitization.  Dogs are playful and may chew on or eat hazardous objects - make sure to dog proof your home so your new friend stays safe.  Consider weather conditions before keeping your dog outside - always give plenty of water and ensure shade when they are out of doors.  Just like other family members, your dog will need yearly health checkups so a good veternarian is a must.  To help your dog fit in and flourish, teach him good manners and to eliminate when and where you want him too through training.  And last but not least, play with your dog.  Dogs love to play and need the exercise - take your dog to one of Houston's many dog parks and get to know other dogs and their companions.  Welcome to the community of canine friends!


    • Food - only feed high quality 'dog' food for dog size and age
    • Food dishes - always get separate water and food bowls which are Not attached to each other
    • Collar with license and ID tag
    • Leash
    • Flea comb and dog brush - dogs need to be groomed regularly
    • Carrier for small dogs
    • Nail clippers - use caution when using nail clippers and never cut below the cuticle line in the nail
    • Dog toothbrush
    • Chew toys or hooves
    • Dog bed or pallet
    • Doggie door if the dog will spend some time unsupervised in the yard
    • Get an 'easy to read' first aid, emergency book such as The First Aid Companion for Cats and Dogs or Pet First Aid


    Feed high quality dry food to your dog once or twice per day in amounts recommended by your veterinarian. Limit safe extras (like cottage cheese or cooked egg) to 10% or less of the dog's diet. For large breed dogs (over 55 pounds), feed food formulated for large breeds, as they have increased nutritional requirements. You may want to purchase elevated dog bowls for large breed dogs, so your dog does not have to crane his neck down to eat, which can cause neck and back problems..

    Feed dog food to dogs less than one year old....even if they look big, their bones are still growing and they need dog food. Large breed (grow to be over 55 pounds) dogs who are less than one year old should be fed large breed dog food, such as Hill's Large Breed dog food. For small breed dogs, there are also specialty dog foods, such Hill's Small Bites. If you are unsure as to your dog's estimated adult weight, ASK your vet to give an estimate.


    When you bring your new friend home . . . .

    Your dog has been under stress. He has been in a strange place full of other animals. Now he is in a new home, with a new family and maybe even other pets. Although everyone will want to meet and play with him, keep the initial interactions to a minimum. Let him explore and investigate his new home and yard.

    Use caution when introducing pets to each other. Some may eventually become friends and others will just co-exist. Before introducing your new dog to pet(s) already in your home, take the dog for a brisk walk to release energy. Then allow him to sniff where the other pet has been. Introduce slowly and keep other dogs on a leash.

    When introducting a dog and a cat, When the dog is in a calm state and still on a leash, allow the dog and cat to view each other at a distance. You should exude calm but also express firmness and not allow the dog to chase the cat or the cat to scratch the dog. Another human family member should hold the dog leash while you calmly pet the cat, thereby letting the dog know that the cat is part of the family. Most dogs want to please their human companion. If the dog remains fairly calm, allow the dog, while still on a leash, to get close to the cat.

    A dog's basic instinct is to chase a cat. Whether the dog chases or not depends on the introduction and on the cat. A cat who is not afraid of dogs and does not run is less likely to provoke a chase. The new dog and your cat should not be alone together for a few weeks the dog may still chase a running cat. Also, if your dog sees the cat outside, he may feel like the cat is fair game for a chase.

    It is important to give equal attention to your original pet. Do not ignore him as this may cause resentment of the new pet, and most important is that the original pet too needs to feel loved, even more so because of the new addition to your family.


    Dogproofing - before you let your dog loose in your home or yard, check the following safety hazards.

    • Poisonous plants - our non-exhaustive list of poisonous plants for cats, amy of which also apply to dogs
    • Medicines - ibuprofin, in any dosage, is toxic to dogs
    • Keep toilet lids closed (dogs will drink the water which contains chemicals and fecal matter)
    • Make certain they cannot get in the fireplace.
    • Open stairways (kittens, dogs, cats and dogs are at great danger in home with a 'half wall' or even open rails on an upstairs room. They can easily fall through or jump over a half wall, plunging down to the floor below! Take precautions!)
    • Human food (especially chocolate) and accessible garbage (especially any kind of bones - bones can either splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines, or form an intestinal blockage)
    • Needles and/or thread; knitting and/or crocheting materials
    • Rubber bands (which can wrap around the intestines)
    • Plastic wrap or bags (the dog can eat, or strangle, or suffocate on)
    • Styrofoam (especially packing "peanuts") which the dog may eat
    • Cigarettes (dogs may eat)
    • Cellophane (turns glassy in the stomach and can cause internal lacerations)
    • Christmas tree needles, tinsel and decorations
    • Keep your workshop off-limits (cdogs will jump at moving objects such as drills and power saws - may also swallow screws, nails, wire and other small parts)
    • Cleaning products and other chemicals
    • Fences that have loose posts or are easily escaped from
    • Compost or other waste material (may contain toxic molds)
    • Litter box (both litter and waste may be of interest to curious dog)

    Emergency Numbers: Keep the phone numbers of your vet, an emergency 'after hours' clinic, and local poison control center, posted by your phone. The number for the National Animal Poison Control Center is (888) 426-4435 - they may charge $65 for a consultation.

    Outdoors: When allowing your dog outside, make sure your yard is secure. Also, monitor weather conditions - extreme temperatures (heat or cold) are difficult for all pets but especially bad for dogs and older animals (see our article on heatstroke). Keep in mind that dogs are artful escape artists because of their size and can hurt themselves easily if left unsupervised outside. Leaving your new dog outside all of the time by himself may also have an impact on your relationship with him or lead to behavioral problems. As the dog gets older and you want to let him roam the yard for longer periods of time, consider purchasing a doggie door, to facilitate re-entry into the home if the dog tires of being outside or weather conditions change. Pet doors also allow a fire escape and can assist with housetraining. If you cannot install a pet door, read out article on winter / summer outdoor safety for dogs.


    Find a veterinarian immediately and establish a relationship. Waiting until you have a sick animal is not the time to find a vet you like and feel comfortable with. Make sure to ask the vet about who would you contact during the hours their clinic is not open. Some vets treat their own emergencies and other vets send you to an animal emergency clinic. Keep the phone numbers of your vet and an emergency 'after hours' clinic (you may want to drive by the emergency clinic so you know how to get there) readily available. Also, keep a vaccinations/worming schedule and all other health information in a place you can easily locate.

    The AMVA recommends the following vaccinations for dogs:distemper, canine adenovirus-2 (for hepatitis and respiratory disease), and canine parvovirus-2. Other vaccines include leptospirosis, coronavirus, canine parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica (for kennel cough), and Borrelia burgdorferi (which causes Lyme Disease). Your dog's lifestyle and circumstances will play a large role in what vaccinations he needs - talk with your veterinarian about the best vaccination plan. If you have adopted your dog from CAP, the vaccinations will be up to date, he will be wormed, spayed/neutered, and checked for heartworms.

    Fleas: Do not use flea collars, first because their effectiveness is questionable and second, because flea collars can cause skin sores on long-haired dogs due to the concentration of poison around the neck. Rather, a good rinse or monthly single dose of products such as Frontline or Advantage (available from your vet) is a better solution to the problem of fleas. Consult your vet for the best option. Flea products contain toxic substances and their use should be minimized to the extent possible.


    Sadly MANY people take dogs to shelters when dogs are between the ages of six months to one year. People think dogs are 'adorable' when they are small. Then when the dog is no longer a baby and the big dog is too rowdy or going through their chewing stage, the adopter returns the dog to the shelter. Educate your dog and avoid this scenario - you will determine whether your dog becomes a well-behaved, well-tempered dog. Your role as educator begins the moment you bring your dog home - houstraining, walking on a leash, 'table manners,' and following simple commands are not genetically programmed skills.


    If your dog is not already houstrained, then housetraining your dog is an important part of bringing the new companion into the family. Housetraining requires some patience, skill, and as always, love on your part. Given the right combination of these, your dog should be making fewer puddles on your favorite oriental rug and more in the great outdoors. Remember that once trained, you are responsible for disposing of your dog's waste while on a walk or in the park.  For more information on housetraining, see the ASPCA guide.



    Dogs generally need safe chew toys - do not give them household objects, like old shoes, because they teach the dog that socks and shoes are chew toys and she will not be able to distinguish between non-chewable shoes and chewable ones. Also, these items may contain toxins that if ingested in high enough levels can harm the dog.

    Dogs need walks and outdoor space to really play. If your dog is well-behaved around other dogs, consider taking him to one of Houston's many dog parks:

    Millie Bush Bark Park - Located in George Bush Park at 16756 Westheimer Parkway in West Houston, near Hwy 6 and Westheimer. Thirteen acres. Double gated & fenced, pick up bags, large and small dog areas (with large and small fire hydrants in them!) - doggie swimming ponds, water fountains, doggie showers, shade areas, benches, scattered trees, walking path, parking lot. Open 7 days a week dawn to dusk.

    City of Houston Dog Parks

    • Ervan Chew is located at 4502 Dunlavy. The dog zone is located adjacent to the picnic area and swimming pool. It is a fenced-in space, approximately 9,000 square feet in size and is designed to allow dogs to exercise freely.
    • Maxey Park is located at 601 Maxey Road. This community park designated approximately 12 to 13 acres of parkland as a place for dogs. The area features a fenced-in space for the dogs to exercise off leash, and amenities include doggie drinking fountains, seperate areas for large and small dogs, a doggie shower, a waste disposal station and benches throughout the space.

    Danny Jackson Dog Park - Just inside the loop and just South of 59 - under the power lines, on Westpark Drive between Loop 610 and Loop Central. Large and small dog seperate areas each with a pond, new trees, benches, walking path

    City of Bellaire Dog Park - Officer Lucy Dog Park is located at 4337 Lafayette in Bellaire, Texas.

    Pearland Dog Park - This park is located at Hughes Ranch Road and 288. The park has colorful, sturdy agility equipment designed more for building confidence or just having fun, rather than for competition. Also benches, and a shade canopy.

    The Woodlands Dog Parks

    • Cattail Park is located at 9323 Cochran's Crossing Drive in The Woodlands. Cattail Park is on the west side of Cochrans Crossing Drive, just north of the entrance to The Palmer Clubhouse/Golfcourse. It is approximately one acre + in size. It is separated into a large dog section and a small dog section. (Per Parks Dept Rules: 25lbs and under qualifies as small). There is a water source but please bring your own drinking containers for your dog(s).
    • The Bear Branch Dog located at 5200 Research Forest Drive, on the NORTH side, west of Shadowbend. It is 2+ very shady acres, and it is separated into a large dog section and a small dog section.( Per Parks Dept Rules: 25lbs and under qualifies as small ). There is water available in both areas, many benches and of course, dog waste bags and waste containers.

    Ella and Friends Dog Park - Located across from 500 W 13th Street in Deer Park. A 2 acre dog park in Deer Park on 13th Street next to the Jimmy Burke Activity Center. The dog must be registered with the city to be allowed in. Registration can be obtained for $5 at the Animal Shelter on Luella.

    Discovery Green - Discovery Green’s 11.78-acre site can be found in downtown Houston, across Avenida de las Americas from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel. The park has many dog-friendly features, including the Kinder Large Dog Run and Harriet and Joe Foster Dog Runs which offer a place at the park for the four-legged family member. The dog areas have crushed gravel, fountains and seating. Open from 6AM to 11PM daily.