A Survival Guide for the First Time Dog Owner

Congratulations on becoming a first time dog owner. It’s an exciting time as you dream of the fun you’re going to have. This is also when you should learn how you can make the transition as easy as possible for you and your dog. This newest family member will be overwhelmed and could benefit from some extra attention and care. You need to be ready to reassure them as their behavior may reflect the apprehension they are feeling. So before you bring that pooch home and plan your first dog party, you need to do a little homework.

Before Getting a Dog

couple with dog on couch
Getting a dog is a commitment. You should consider how you will fit into each other’s lives. This list of first time dog owner tips will help make adjusting and transitioning easier on both of you.

The Basics

Breed: The first step is choosing the right dog based on breed traits like size, energy level and personality. Match the type of dog to your lifestyle and ability to care for it.

Finances: First time dog owners don’t always consider ongoing expenses related to dog ownership. You are obviously aware of the initial price, but you must also plan for future costs such as food and treats or veterinary care.

Shelter: A secure area with a dog house or shelter is a necessity for all dogs. Even your couch-potato house dog needs something to keep it dry when outside.

Time: Dogs are social animals that crave time with you, their pack leader. If you can’t devote a lot of time to your dog, you might consider dog walkers or even doggy day-care.

dog going for a walk

Dog Health and Wellness

Exercise and Play: Many pampered pooches don’t get enough exercise. Playtime is a great way for their exercise needs to be met while having fun. Something simple like a daily walk helps, but consider your dog’s breed and match playtime to their needs.

Pet Insurance: It may seem strange to have insurance for your dog, but it can actually save the life of your pet. Accidents and unexpected illnesses can place a huge financial burden on you. It is helpful to keep in mind that certain dog breeds are more prone to some types of illnesses or issues as they age. Insurance can help you prepare for this possibility with many plans also reimbursing you for routine veterinary care and exams.

Veterinary Care: Have a veterinarian in mind for your dog’s care. Puppies need several rounds of initial vaccinations. Wellness visits and booster shots like rabies are also important.

Spay and Neuter: Getting your dog spayed or neutered is critical. Many vets or shelters offer puppy packages that include this procedure with their shots. There are often specials for first time dog owners. An additional benefit to adopting an older dog is that they are usually already fixed.

Ongoing Care: Health maintenance schedules are important. They include things such as flea medications, dental cleanings and annual booster shots. You may also need to plan for grooming and nail care.

Safety: Puppies are like toddlers and get into everything they shouldn’t. Monitor household hazards such as chemicals, electrical cords and sharp objects. Learn what types of food, plants and other substances are toxic to dogs as some may surprise you.

Gear You’ll Need

dog on leash
While dogs aren’t quite as accessory-heavy as children, they do have some gear requirements. As a responsible first time pet owner, you must make sure your pup has everything needed.

The Minimums: A collar and leash are must-haves for your new dog. Bowls for food and water, as well as a bed or crate for sleeping, are necessities. Providing your pooch with their very own dog bed is a great way to make them feel secure and right at home. A good grooming brush for your dog’s hair type is also useful.

Treats and Toys: Your dog will enjoy healthy treats and sturdy toys as long as they are suitable for your breed of dog. Heavy chewers are challenging when it comes to keeping toys intact. Both toys and treats can do double-duty as training aids.

Some Extras: Pee-pads can be helpful for potty training. Special training devices are available for teaching obedience and tricks.

Traveling With Your Dog: For on-the-road safety, purchase a dog harness similar to a seat belt. Pads will protect car seats while providing your pup a comfy place to lay down. Make sure your dog is micro-chipped and has a pet tag or name tag on their collar every time you leave the house. Don’t forget water and food with bowls as well as waste removal bags.

First Few Weeks

puppy with owner
“Patience is a virtue” is a saying that first time dog owners should take to heart. Whether bringing a puppy home or adopting an older dog, you’ll need that patience — in abundance.

Routines: Dogs learn quicker when on a schedule. Routine feedings and frequently scheduled potty breaks help. So does a regular bedtime — just like with children. Give your pup their own dog blanket each time they go to bed to reinforce their routine.

Potty Training: Puppies and older dogs alike need potty training. Learning where and when to go will make them (and you) much happier.

Obedience Training: Basic obedience is the foundation for everything your dog will learn. Having a dog that listens not only makes things more pleasant but it also makes the world safer for them.

Advanced Training: Once you have the basics covered, it is fun to take the training further. Even as a first time dog owner it is possible to continue teaching your dog new skills and tricks.

Fun: Spend fun time with your dog, not just training sessions, to get to know and trust each other. The more your dog learns to love you, the more it desires to please you.

Enjoy Your Dog

dog playing with rope
Once you bring your new dog home, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. The fun and unconditional love will improve both of your lives. In no time at all, you will be filling a dog album with great photos and meaningful dog quotes. Consider yourself graduated from being a first time dog owner to a devoted dog lover.