7 Tips for New Dog Owners (Plus Bonus Tip) - Puppy or Full Grown
Whether you’re bringing home a fuzzy puppy or a full-grown dog, you’ve made one of the best decisions of your life. No matter your dog’s breed, from Bull Mastiff to Pomeranian to mixed-breed babies, your dog will make you laugh, smile, and dance with joy. Puppies and dogs make a home come alive with love and affection.
While dogs are one of the best things in the world, they can be a lot of work, especially for new dog owners. In order to make the transition go smoother, there are some simple things you can do to help your new dog settle in and avoid some of the common mistakes new dog parents make.
1. Puppy Proof Your Home
Puppies and newly adopted dogs can be very energetic and curious. Before you bring your new best friend home, you can tailor your home to be more dog-friendly and to avoid accidents. You first want to look for any safety issues like cords that a puppy or dog might accidentally get caught on or nibble on.
Next, scan your home for anything fragile that could possibly get bumped or knocked over. When I first brought my sweet boy home, he immediately broke two lamps. If you have kids, I always suggest picking up any stuffed animals that puppies may think are chew toys.
2. Find a Nearby Vet
In the first year of your puppy’s life, he’ll need several rounds of shots, so find a reliable vet within a short drive from your home. Check your vet’s hours and write down an emergency vet’s address and phone number, just in case your dog does something silly like devour a 30-pound bag of kibble. Vets can also be a great resource for learning more about your dog and his needs. Keep your dog’s records in a safe place that you can easily access
3. Help Your Dog Become a Social Butterfly
Find a dog park to let your pooch stretch his legs while developing social skills with other dogs. Dog parks are also a great way to meet other dog parents who can tell you about reputable pet sitters and dog walkers that can help make your life easier.
4. Puppies Can’t Hold It
Puppies around 3 months old can only hold their urine for 4 hours. This means it may be a while before you get a full night’s worth of sleep without getting up for potty breaks for the little one. Crate training can minimize the mess and reduce accidents. You can also hire a dog walker who will stop by midday to take your dog out and give him a little extra love when you’re at work. This can also help dogs get used to visitors and build trust with other people.
5. Take Your Dog to School
Most common pet stores have puppy and beginning dog training classes. Taking your dog to obedience class can help you learn more about how to communicate with your dog while building a stronger bond as you see him accomplish goals and learn from you.
Dog school can also help nervous adult dogs build confidence. At dog class, you will also learn about how to properly recall your dog in case he gets loose. This is invaluable in emergency situations. Dog school can also minimize unwanted behaviors like jumping up on guests or snapping at treats.
6. Get the Gear You Know You’ll Need for Your New Dog
If you’re getting a puppy, you’ll have to upgrade collars as your puppy becomes a dog. If you’re bringing home a full-grown bundle of dog love, you will want to start with a basic leash and collar, and then find a harness or collar that works best for your dog. If you have a dog that pulls a lot, front-clipping harnesses work really well, while some smaller breed dogs like Papillons need a soft harness for their tiny bodies.
You’ll also want:
- A leash - When leash-training, you’ll probably want a 4-foot leash. You can also find leashes for different activities like running and hiking.
- A variety of toys - Different dogs have different tastes when it comes to their toys. Some dogs love rubber chew toys while others love stuffed toys with squeakers.
- Bowls - You’ll want a bowl for food and a bowl for water. Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water throughout the day. When potty training, you may want to pick up the bowl an hour or so before bed.
- A dog crate - Crate training, when done correctly, can alleviate a lot of stress for new dog parents. Find a comfy crate cushion and make sure the crate is the proper size for your dog. Remember to always leave your dog’s crate open and available when you’re home and over time he will begin to see his crate as a safe space and den.
- Food - As your dog ages, his dietary needs will change. Most dog foods come in puppy varieties that are easy to digest and will help your pup to grow up strong and healthy. If you’re bringing home an adult dog, don’t commit to a jumbo-size bag of food, just in case your dog has a sensitivity to it.
- A dog brush - Long-haired dogs will need to be brushed regularly and taken to the groomer to make sure their coats are smooth, silky, and pettable.
- A dog bed - Giving your dog a place to lay his head and tail is important. A good dog bed will hug your dog to make him feel secure. If you’re getting a puppy, try to find chew-proof material. Note that you may have to replace the bed after a few months If you notice your dog has a different sleeping style than you anticipated. Some dogs are sprawlers while others are curlers.
- Treats - These are great for bonding and training. Try to find treats with quality ingredients to keep your dog’s coat healthy and to reduce unnecessary calories.
- Dog shampoo - Dogs and puppies will inevitably have accidents and get into messes. Make sure you’re prepared to bathe your pup with dog shampoo. Try to avoid using human products on your puppy since he may have sensitive skin and human shampoo often has fragrances that dogs can find offensive.
7. Be Patient and Expect Your Routine to Change the First Day Your New Puppy or Full Grown Dog Arrives at Your Home
Getting a dog can often be more work than new owners expect. Remember that your dog is still getting to know you as you’re getting to know him. Puppies’ personalities develop as they grow up while new full grown dogs might take a few weeks to come out of their shells in their new environment. This means that your normal routines such as waking up fifteen minutes before leaving for work may not work when you first bring your dog home so be ready to make some changes.
Potty training a dog can be one of the most energy-consuming tasks you’ll face with a new dog. Maybe you'll get lucky and your new dog might only pee once or twice inside, but inevitably it will happen. Think of it as a learning curve and know that your dog will learn with time how to tell you she needs to go out.
Bonus Tip - Be a Responsible Dog Owner
Raising a Dog is a big responsibility. Not only are you responsible for your new fur baby but for others they will interact with, this means proper training, proper gear and the correct type of fence is critical to ensure the safety of your dog and the safety of others they will interact with. Check out our article below which discusses different types of fencing as well ideas for a fun backyard.
Congratulations on finding a canine companion to love and adore.
Remember to take a lot of pictures and keep your dog’s tail wagging by spending time petting his belly and playing fetch in the yard. Your dog is sure to show you exactly how much better life can be with a new best friend! Are you still undecided which breed would be best for you? Are you an active person? Check out our article 15 Best Dog Breeds For Active Dog Parents. Please leave a comment and let us know how much joy your new dog has brought into your life