Are you a first time dog owner, or are you considering adopting your first dog in the near future? Most of us at WINPRO have been there before, and we wanted to share what we believe is what every first time dog owner needs to know.
These tips can help make your first few months as smooth as possible, which allows you to bond with your new family member without feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. Any new journey has its ups and downs but, with the right knowledge from the start, you can tackle every dip as it comes with a lot more confidence.
Consider Your Choice Carefully
If you’re only just starting your journey as a potential first time dog owner, taking the time to make the right decision when it comes to what type of dog you adopt can really save you a lot of frustration and heartache in the long run.
While every dog has that sweet, precious face that makes the heart melt and makes you want to immediately bring them home, choosing a dog whose needs don’t match your abilities can be not only stressful but also emotionally draining. Plenty of dogs end up right back at the shelter for this reason.
A good place to start, if you’re considering a purebred dog, is with the AKC’s Dog Breed Selector. It goes through questions like whether or not you are a first time dog owner, if you have a house or an apartment with a yard, if you have small children, and other important questions.
If you prefer a shelter or mixed breed dog (which most people do, and the shelters are absolutely packed with them), there are also some serious considerations. For instance, puppies are going to be much more work than an adult dog.
Size is also a factor, both for their comfort and your own. And certain types of dogs, like those with working dog breeds in their genetic makeup, need a lot more exercise than “lazier” dogs. Be honest with yourself about what you want, so that you can find the perfect dog for your life.
It’s also important to note that dog ownership is not cheap. Between the vet visits, the supplies needed to provide your pet with the bare essentials (not counting all the toys and “fun” stuff), the training classes, etc. bringing home a pet can be an expensive commitment… and will continue to cost you money for the life of your pet.
While they pay that back to you double in the love and companionship they give you, first time dog owners should understand the financial commitment they are making before bringing their first dog home.
Prepare Your Home Beforehand
If you’ve decided what type of dog you think will fit best in your family, make sure to take the time to prepare your home before bringing them home.
Once your dog is home, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with them, without having to make multiple trips to the store or waiting for online purchases to arrive.
For the first time dog owner, there are a few things to focus specifically on:
- Food and water bowls
- A crate (crate training is one of the best things you can do for your dog)
- Food storage bins
- A leash, collar, and tags (with your number, at the very least)
- A comfortable place to sleep
Also, much like a small child, dogs have a tendency to put anything they can into their mouths. This can lead to injury and potentially even be fatal, so pick up anything they may be able to get into and watch electrical cords and outlets closely. Bringing a new dog home really is like having a baby, anyway, so treating it that way can help you get ahead of things before they have a chance to become a problem.
Establish With A Veterinarian
Unlike having a baby, you don’t have to wait until after they’ve come home to establish care with a local veterinarian.
Starting the process ahead of time allows you to do your research so that you can find one with good reviews that you can trust with your pet. Word of mouth is also important, so make sure that you ask any of your dog-loving friends!
Your veterinarian will be your first and best asset when it comes to taking care of your pet, especially as a first time dog owner. They can walk you through your choices when it comes to what food to feed your dog, will give your dog all of the vaccines they need to keep them healthy, can discuss behavioral issues, and can handle any emergency situations that may come up.
Most veterinarians are available at all times of day, especially for established clients. It’s the safety net you need, trust us.
Start Training Early
It’s never too early to start teaching your new puppy (or adult dog!) tricks. In fact, starting the training process early can help increase the likelihood of success, as well creating a great bonding experience for you both. If you think about it, your puppy comes to you as a mostly blank slate or a new beginning.
You have to teach them how to go to the bathroom outside, how to sleep through the night, how to walk on a leash, etc. It’s not all about sitting, staying, or laying down. To build a close bond with your dog as a first time dog owner, you’ll really be learning everything together. How many times in life do we get that opportunity?
We recommend starting with staying, as a lot of dog trainers cite that as one of the most important tricks they can learn. If your dog manages to get off leash or find themselves in danger, being confident that they will listen to you when you tell them to stop can literally save their lives.
Exercise Isn’t Optional
If you’re the type of person who likes to come home at the end of a long day and sit on the couch, you may want to consider if you’re really ready to get a dog. For dogs, exercise isn’t optional… It's mandatory.
Dogs need exercise to stay happy and healthy, both mentally and physically. Dogs that don’t have the opportunity to get out and stretch their legs can turn into destructive dogs, which can lead to angry owners (who don’t understand that they may have something to do with it).
It’s a vicious cycle, so anticipate taking your dog on at least one walk a day. Imagine if you were stuck in the house… you probably would get a little antsy too! The good news is, studies have shown that having a dog also makes you healthier.
After a long walk or run with your dog, consider giving them a supplement meant to help them recover more quickly, like WINPRO Recovery. That way you can stay as active as you want with your pet for as long as possible, first time dog owner or not.
To Wrap Up
Hopefully, if you’re a first time dog owner, you’ve taken a few tips away from this article that will help you be a better, more confident pet parent. WINPRO is here for you, through the good and the bad, not only with tips but also with supplements designed for many different phases of your pet’s life. Our goal is to help your dog live its best life, so that your bond can last for years to come.