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10 Tips For First Time Dog Owners

Updated: May 20, 2021

Are you getting ready to bring home your first ever furry best friend? Adopting a dog is an exciting proposition, but it’s also a long-term commitment! If this is your first time becoming a pet parent, there are some things you definitely need to know going in.

And here are ten of them!

Make Sure You Have What It Takes To Be A Good Pet Parent

Owning a dog is a big responsibility. Our pets require our time, money, attention, energy, foresight, and love.

It is absolutely important to know that before you bring your dog home — and make sure that you’re ready and able to give your new pet what is needed. What a dog needs varies depending on the breed, age, size, and other factors.

For instance, if you’re away from home a lot, it isn’t a good idea to get a breed that is prone to separation anxiety. If you live in a small apartment, we don’t recommend adopting a Great Dane!

The time to address your ability to be a good pet parent is before you make the commitment to your furry friend.

Research The Breed

But how do you know what specific needs your dog will have?

It’s always a good idea to do your research! The internet has plenty of information on specific breeds, such as though sites like the AKC. Learn more about the breed that you’re interested in bringing home. How big are they going to get? How much exercise will they need? Will they play well with other animals or do they do best as an only child?

If you’re set on a particular breed but find that you won’t be able to provide for their needs, we strongly recommend that you consider a different breed that fits your lifestyle. Remember, the happiness of your dog could be at stake!

Consider Adopting A Dog In Need

No matter where you live, it seems like there are always dogs in need. It could be a puppy that was abandoned with its littermates; it could be a teenaged dog whose owners decided that he was too big for their small house; it could be an older dog who belonged to someone who moved away and couldn’t take them along.

Whatever the case, if you’re able to provide a home for a needy dog, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll feel good about it — and so will your new buddy! Dogs always have more love to give, no matter who they find themselves with.

Just remember to still do research on the breed before you bring them home, and visit with them before you agree to adopt them. Sometimes, adult dogs may have bad behaviors or habits that weren’t trained out of them by their previous owners. So be ready to train them and show lots of patience.

Don’t Get Too Hung Up On A Name

If you’re like me, when you were a kid you had the name of your future dog all picked out. I was positive that I was going to name my dog Cameo — regardless of when I actually got her and what she turned out to look like.

But then I met my new pup — and she just wasn’t a Cameo! Turned out, her name was Ricky!

It’s fun to think about what we might name our dog, and even look at lists of great dog names and pick out some top contenders. But don’t get too insistent on a name! Your dog may not answer to it — and it just might not fit!

Use A Checklist For Pet Accessories

Before you bring your dog home, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got everything that’s necessary to keep the new pup happy from the very first day.

That means food, bedding, toys, dishes, grooming tools...and more!

Here's a list of the most recommended chew toys.

We definitely recommend following a checklist to make sure that you’re not missing out on anything. Here's an extensive checklist with all of the essentials.

Set Up A Fenced Area

Exercise is very important for animals, especially young dogs. It isn’t always possible to let them roam around outdoors. We don’t want to leave them tied up, and it can be dangerous to let them have the run of the property if there are neighbors or streets close at hand.

We recommend setting up a fenced area for your pup, if it’s possible. The larger the dog breed, the more space they will need. If you live in an apartment and don’t have a private yard, though, be ready to take them for lots of long, leashed walks.

Get Set Up With A Veterinarian First

Before you bring your dog home, you’ll want to get established with a veterinarian. Once you make your decision and commit to the dog, call ahead to the vet’s office and set up the first appointment.

Preparing this important detail ahead of time will bring you peace of mind from the very beginning, as well as providing for any potential emergencies that may happen.

Puppy-Proof Your Home

Carpets, electrical cords, furniture legs, kids’ toys — these are all things that will be impacted by the arrival of a new puppy or dog!

If you’re bringing home a young dog or puppy, be prepared for some chewing! Put anything that you don’t want to be destroyed out of reach. Make sure not to leave electrical cords where they can get at them. And invest in plenty of appetizing, entertaining chew toys so you can distract them if they start going for the furniture.

If you have a carpeted house, be ready for the possibility that there may be some accidents along the path of potty training! Make sure you have the correct cleaning supplies for the type of carpet you have, and try to let your dog spend lots of time outside to train them where they’re supposed to go. Puppy potty training pads are also a good idea, especially for overnights.

Establish A Budget

Dogs can be expensive. Some experts estimate that you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $1000 yearly on food, vet bills, and other dog necessities.

It’s a good idea to establish a pet budget from the very beginning. Set some money aside each month, contributing it to a savings account specifically for your pet. That way, if a need arises such as a vet bill, you’ll be covered — and so will your dog.

Socialization Is Key!

If you’ve never had a dog before, you likely don’t realize how important it is to socialize your animals. A dog that is kept in a limited environment, without any exposure to new people or animals, is likely to feel anxiety when they are put in new surroundings. This anxiety can take the form of whimpering, accidents, or even aggression, growling, and biting.

When you first bring your dog home, make sure to take them out with you. Take them on walks in the park and let them meet other dogs and people. Introduce them to children and other types of pets, like cats. The more you do this, the easier it will be for your dog to adjust — and the earlier, the better.

Check out The Ultimate Puppy Socialization Checklist for some amazing tips.

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