First-Time Dog Owner Tips
Are you ready to welcome a new dog into your life? It can be exciting to bring a new dog into your home but it also can be a nerve-racking experience. Unfortunately, dogs don’t automatically come with an owner’s manual that explains every behavior and action. You may worry that you lack the knowledge to keep your pet healthy, safe and entertained. Don’t worry – here are six tips to turn you from a canine rookie into a savvy dog owner:
Tip #1 Make sure you can handle the responsibility of pet ownership.
Before you get a dog, make sure you understand the responsibilities associated with owning a dog. Consider these important questions before you bring home a new dog:
- Why do I want a dog?
- Do I have the time to take him to obedience-training classes and practice at home what we learned?
- Can I properly care for a dog? Will I make sure to feed him, give him clean, fresh water, and exercise him every day?
- Can I handle dog hair or drool on my clothes and in my house? Am I willing to clean up after a dog that sheds?
- Will I be patient and not yell if he has accidents on the carpet or chews my favorite book?
- Will I obey leash laws and pick up after him on daily walks?
- Do I have time to find a quality veterinary clinic and pet health insurance plan in order to keep him healthy?
- Do I have room in my home and backyard for a small or large dog?
Tip #2 Do your research first.
Resist bringing home the first cute, cuddly dog you see. Find out as much as possible about the dog from his current caretaker or breeder. Ask about his daily routine and how he behaves around people and other dogs. If you have children and other pets, ask if he is kid and pet-friendly.
Tip #3 Ask your dog-smart friends and family for advice
Since your friends and family know you well, ask them for advice. As dog-savvy owners, they can help you find a dog breed that’s a perfect match for you and your family’s lifestyle.
Tip #4 Buy the necessary pet supplies.
Before you head home with your new pet, make sure you pick up the necessary supplies at your local pet store. Must-have items on your shopping list include:
- Identification tags
- Quality commercial dog food (appropriate for his age, and activity and health levels)
- Safe dog toys
- Dog bedding
- Stainless steel food and water bowls
- Package of disposable doggy waste bags
Tip #5 Spend quality time together.
On the day you pick up your new dog, don’t schedule other activities. Take time off from work and spend quality time with your new dog so you can bond together. Allow him to sniff and investigate his new home (room by room) at his own pace. Don’t overwhelm him, and slowly introduce family members and other pets to the new dog.
Tip #6 Arrange fun activities when your dog is home alone.
You don’t want your new dog to be bored when he is home alone while you are at work. To prevent him from being lonely and destructive, arrange for a professional pet sitter to take your dog for daily walks. Another option is to bring your dog to a reputable doggy day care center. Professional animal caretakers provide supervised, structured exercise for your dog and help him socialize better with people and other dogs. You can also get brain-stimulating toys for your dog to help work their mind while you’re away.
Tip #7 Be Patient
Remember to be patient with your new pooch. Your new dog needs time to adjust to his new surroundings. By staying calm and being consistent with your commands and demeanor, you can help him adjust to his new forever home with comfort and ease.
By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host and writer for Pets Best, a U.S. pet health insurance agency founded in 2005.