15 Essential Tips for a First-Time Dog Owner
Every person has thought of adopting a dog at some point in their lives, especially if you have kids who are clamoring for a new puppy. Bringing your very first dog home is a very exciting moment in anyone’s life. Of course, you probably had dogs as a kid, but there is just something extra special about bringing your own dog home to your own house that can’t be beaten. Not only are you giving this dog a home to call their own, but you are also bringing home a friend that is sure to be loyal, loving, and protective of you and your family.
However, from preparing for the adoption to preparing your home for bringing your new canine pal into the family and from those first days as a new pet owner to finding just the right food to feed your new friend, there is a lot that goes into being a first-time dog owner. It’s important to remember above all else that being a pet owner of any kind is a huge responsibility. Yes, a puppy is cute and cuddly and loving, but they also have to be trained, disciplined and loved, just like your children do. Whether you are bringing home a new pup or adopting an older dog, there are some essential tips that you need as a first-time dog owner to help you and your pup ease into life as a family together. With that in mind, let’s delve deeper into our blog on the top essential tips for the first-time dog owner.
Preparing Your Home
The first thing you want to do before you even go pick out the furry creature you are going to adopt is preparing your home for when he arrives. Tips on how to do that are listed below.
While this may seem to be an obvious step to becoming a first-time dog owner, quite a few of the dogs that end up back at the animal shelter are taken there because their pet parents didn’t realize what a huge responsibility taking care of a dog could be. Sit down with not only yourself but your entire family as well and make sure you are all ready for what bringing a dog into your home is going to mean. It is important to discuss exactly who is responsible for what, before you bring the new dog into your home. Bickering over whose turn it is to take out Fido isn’t good for the dog or for your family either.
Buy the Things He Needs
This is the part of the preparation process that is the most fun for the family. Head on over to your local pet store and pick up everything you need for your little canine pal to feel at home and like part of the family. Below are a few of the things that you are going to want to pick up for your pooch ahead of time.
You are, of course, going to add to this list and find yourself buying more things for your dog, but this will do to get you started and pointed in the right direction.
Puppy Proof the Home
So, you thought baby proofing was just for the children when they were babies? Wrong! Every dog and puppy will react differently to their surroundings, but it is important to puppy proof anyway. Keep all chemicals up where the dog can’t reach them and tape all electrical cords to the baseboards so the puppy won’t be tempted to chew on them. It’s also important that anything your dog could choke on up high enough that he can’t reach them, even if he stands on his hind legs.
Give Your Pup Their Own Space
As much as your puppy will want to be with and love you, every dog, just like every human needs their own space. Set up their doggie bed with their toys and other belongings in a corner of the room that is just for them. That way, when they need some time alone to rest, they have their own space to retreat too.
General Housekeeping Duties
Talk to the Shelter
Once you have everything ready for your new pet and have chosen the perfect pooch to adopt, you need to talk to the shelter about any special needs your new pet might have. As a matter of fact, it’s also a good idea to ask the person running the shelter, what food your dog was eating. This doesn’t mean that you can never change their diet, but it will help their tummies, by not just switching up dog foods on them as soon as you get them home.
Ask for All of the Paperwork
If you are adopting your pet from a shelter, try to get as many of his vet papers as possible. Try to figure out how many and which shots he has already been given and when the last time was he had a visit to the vet. It’s also important to find out, if possible, when his last flea and heartworm treatment was, so you can tell your new vet when you take your dog in for his first appointment. This is extremely important if it’s at all possible because you want your pup to be as healthy and happy as possible in his new home.
Find a Great Vet
While you can wait on this step until you have your dog and are ready to make that first appointment, it’s best to go ahead and do your research so you can find the best in the area. A great vet will make all the difference in the health and happiness of your new pet. It’s a good idea to find a vet that is local and to find out the location of the closest 24-hour emergency vet as well. Even though you may never need it, it’s best to be prepared.
Welcoming Your New Dog Home
Now, you have picked out the perfect dog for you and your family. You are excited to bring him home and have everything prepared from his own space to the new vet and from puppy proofing the house to getting pet supplies. Now, the real fun, and possibly the hardest part of being a first-time dog owner begins. There are more than a few things you need to know as a first-time dog owner, some you will just have to learn as you go, but a few, we can go over together in this blog. Read on below for a few of the must-have tips to get you started.
Give Him Time to Get Comfortable
As with anything else in the world, your dog isn’t going to be comfortable with his surroundings right away. Sometimes, it can take a couple of weeks or more before he’s as comfortable and familiar as you want him to be. You can’t rush this process. It is important to note that your schedule is going to change when you get a dog. They need to be walked, fed, and played with, but above else they need to be loved. It won’t take long before your dog trusts you and realizes you only want good things for him.
Start Potty Training As Soon As Possible…or Sooner
One of the biggest trials for any first-time dog owner and the one that will have you wanting to pull out your hair by the roots is the dreaded potty training. Some dogs are easier to train than others, but no matter what, potty training is a feat. There are many guides out there online that can help you train your pup the right way. Though it may be tempting to be lazy when it comes to potty training, you have to stay on a strict schedule with it, or you will be super sorry that you didn’t in the long run.
Socializing Your New Pup
While your pup is getting used to his new surroundings and your family, you don’t want to overwhelm him. However, as soon as he is ready, you want to start socializing him to be around other people and animals. There is also a training guide online to help you with the socialization process as well. Remember, if you want your pup to do well with guests when they come to your home or at the dog park when you take him to play, he has got to be around other animals and people.
Find Out the Leash Laws in Your Area
While it’s fine, and even fun to let your pup run around freely in your own backyard, if it’s fenced in, of course, it’s not okay when you are out and about and around other people. Leash laws are different in different towns and even in different states, so you are going to want to find out the leash laws for your particular area. These laws are in place, not only to protect people from being bitten but also to protect your dog. With a leash, you don’t have to worry about your pup getting away from you and getting lost, stolen, or hit by a car when he runs into traffic. Take your time getting your dog trained to use the leash, doing it slowly before you take him into public or crowded places as well.
The old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” is very true when it comes to training a new dog, especially when you’re a first-time dog owner yourself. Remember, just as no human is perfect, no dog is perfect as well. You can expect some behavior problems, whether it’s chewing up your favorite shoes, having accidents in the house, or even excessive barking that drives you insane. Do your research into these behavior problems and gently guide your pup in the direction he should go.
Always be Patient and Loving
It is extremely important to be patient and loving with your pet. Yelling and hitting are never the answer when your dog does something wrong and may just make their behavior worse. Be realistic with your training with your pup, don’t expect too much from them. It’s also important to be consistent with your training as well, or your pup will never learn how to behave or how to potty outside.
Get Help if You Need it
As with anything else in the world, help is out there when and if you need it. Instead, of becoming impatient and possibly giving up on your dog, ask for the help you need. Ask a friend or family member that has animals for help or if all else fails there are dog obedience schools out there that will teach your dog to behave and even teach potty training skills as well. Instead of giving up on your dog, call for help. You’ll be glad that you did.
Take Care of the Basics
In the middle of all this training, taking him to the vet, and being patient with his behavior, comes the need to take care of the basics. You have already taken care of the vet, the food, and the space that your puppy needs. The other thing you don’t want to forget is grooming. According to the type of dog you adopt, grooming could be giving them a bath every couple of weeks or having to brush them every day. Some first-time dog owners find that it’s best to find a local groomer to take care of their pups grooming need. The choice of how you set about grooming your pet is entirely up to you.
These are just a few of the top tips that you are going to need as a first-time dog owner. Remember, always be patient, kind, and loving to your pet and he will return that love tenfold and be your loyal companion for life.
- BarkPost: How to Prepare to Bring Your Dog Home for the First Time
- Lifehack: 5 Essential Tips for First-Time Dog Owners
- The Spruce Pets: 10 Tips for First Time Dog Owners