Having a dog is easily one of the greatest joys in life. However, if you’ve never owned a dog before, the thought can be daunting. But fear not; we have a detailed list of advice for new dog parents that will give you the knowledge you require to feel at ease with your new canine companion.
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Advice for New Dog Parents
There are several things to think about before you bring a four-legged family member home. Understanding the physical and mental needs of a dog and determining whether you can make the commitment required to keep your pup healthy and happy are both important parts of being prepared. If you are unsure about whether you will be able to commit to a pet for life, it’s best to consider other options like fostering first.
- Do some research
Consider the bigger picture first. Will a dog fit into your family and lifestyle? Some cities or localities have rules and regulations regarding certain dog breeds. Researching different breeds is a good place to start, but speaking with rescuers and animal shelter workers and explaining the kind of pet you’re looking for is a better option. Rescuers can guide you toward a good match because they are knowledgeable about the personalities and temperaments of the dogs they foster. This is especially important for first time dog owners. Adopting a dog you are familiar with is always better than bringing home a surprise.
You should also take into account the right canine size for your household. Larger breeds, for instance, are more likely to unintentionally knock over things (including small children at times).
- Establish a budget.
The cost of dog ownership is an important factor to consider. On average, a puppy costs $4,800 in the first year of its life. You’ll need to budget for regular expenses like food and treats, preventative pet care, grooming, check-ups, vaccines, as well as monthly, yearly, and less frequent expenses. It’s also necessary to consider everything you need to buy before bringing your new dog home such as its bed, food and water bowls, blanket, toys, collar and leash, along with pet safe cleaning materials and a few basic grooming tools.
- Act responsibly.
Some dog breeds that live the longest can be your best friend for up to fifteen years. Therefore, committing to taking care of your dog for the rest of his life entails giving him proper nourishment, exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship, in addition to pet care and training.
Research your local dog ownership laws and regulations and abide by them. Register or license your dog and ensure that all required vaccinations are completed. You will also need to spay or neuter your dog once he/she comes of age to prevent unwanted breeding.
Prepare your home. You must first dog-proof your house and yard, to ensure your pup’s safety. Then, if you’re adopting a puppy, stock up on some essentials like bowls, puppy training treats, a collar and tag with your details, a no-pull leash, chew toys for teething, and a crate and training pads for potty training.
- Assess your time.
Puppies are impossible to resist, but before making a commitment, consider what life in your house might be like with one.
You can shape a puppy’s behavioral traits through proper training because a dog’s adult personality is a mix of nature and nurture. However, there is a downside to all that cute puppy excitement and energy. You need to think about whether you have enough time to train a puppy from scratch. Puppies need to be taught everything such as basic commands, toilet training, crate training, walking correctly on a leash, and being gentle with small children, etc. This is not an easy task and requires considerable time and patience. Poor training can harm a puppy’s adult personality, so only bring one into your home if you’re sure you can provide everything it needs.
- Train regularly.
For your new pet, the first few days (or even months) in your house will be challenging. One of the most stressful environments for a dog is a shelter; so if you adopt a dog, it can take some time for your new pet to settle in and begin to trust you. Your new family member might need time, space, and your empathy if he/she attempts to hide, refuses to eat, or isn’t very social after moving in. Depending on the dog and their prior circumstances, the transition period can last anywhere from two to four weeks at a minimum.
Be patient and use positive reinforcement to teach your dog appropriate behavior so that he/she learns how to behave well. Make a daily schedule to help your dog feel more at home while he/she settles in. The best ways to reduce anxiety in the beginning are consistency, stability, and predictability.
There are some really unrealistic checklists online like “your dog needs to meet 25 new people every day”! Just put in your best effort and be confident in what you do. If you are unsure around your dog, your pup will pick up on it. Dogs need lots of love and attention but they also need someone to guide them and they’ll only listen when they sense you’re sure of yourself. Your dog can sense your level of stress. Take a deep breath and remember that your dog will give you 10 times as much love and care as you offer him, even if you think you’re not doing a perfect job in the beginning.