6 Must-Read Tips for First Time Dog Owners Skip to main content
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6 Must-Read Tips for First Time Dog Owners

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6 Must-Know Tips for First Time Dog OwnersYou’ve got your first off-campus apartment in order, you’ve got permission from your landlord, and you’re about to take the first pet plunge. You’ve been scouring the rescue groups, bookmarking puppy profiles at local animal shelters, and researching breeders, and now you’re reading up on tips for first time dog owners. And just in time for National Puppy Day!

And there are a lot of pet tips to sift through, aren’t there? With the help of dog blogger and pet expert Carol Bryant of FidoseofReality.com, we’ve helped narrow them down for you.

1. Understand the Commitment You’re About to Make
Getting a dog is a huge commitment – in terms of responsibility, time, energy, and money. Class schedules, late work nights, vacation – soon your schedule will revolve around your adorable pooch. As a soon-to-be first time dog owner, are you prepared for the midnight walks, early morning bathroom nudges, grooming, pet insurance, mealtime, play dates, and pet store runs? Remember the clean up, too - they slobber (and other things) more than your betta fish did. And while the joy-filled returns are many, the simple fact is dogs cost money. Adoption or breeder fees, food, vaccinations, bedding, accessories, doggy daycare, vet check ups, grooming, boarding, emergency surgeries, supplements – it adds up quicker than you can say, “Ready for your W-A-L-K?”


Carol and Dexter

2. Figure Out the Best Breed for You – and More Importantly Your Lifestyle
Maybe you grew up with a lab. Maybe terriers make you swoon. Maybe a mixed mutt is the way you are leaning. Bryant says to talk to fellow dog owners and do your research online about the pros and cons of different breeds. “Look at your lifestyle, your time, your budget, and your ability to care for a dog for his entire life. A dog is a commitment no matter if he or she comes from a shelter, a rescue, or a reputable breeder. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, many rescue groups and shelters are full of purebred dogs,” she says.

Certain breeds are more active and will require additional outdoor time, some breeds are predisposed to certain health conditions that might require additional care, other breeds are naturally large or have anxious temperaments. You have to know what you want and what dovetails with your life. For example, says Bryant, “If you want a dog who will jog with you, don’t get a Bassett Hound.”

3. Prepare the House for Your New Four-Legged Friend
All right, you’ve done your research and you understand the commitments. Max is coming home next week. Bryant suggests taking a couple of days to dog-proof your house and “view the world as a dog. Move plants, get wires out of the way. In other words, don’t put anything in his way that can cause issues. Burning candles: Nope!”

4. Make a List and Check It Twice
Before Fido comes home, Bryant says to make a list of the things you’ll need including:

  • Dog bed in their own area
  • Food and treats
  • Bowls for eating and drinking (BPA-free, of course!)
  • Crate and carrier
  • Harness, collar, leash, and tags
  • Toys
  • Baby gates (to block off parts of your house, if needed)
  • Cleaning supplies

5. Get a Vet (Pronto)
Have the name of veterinarian on hand before you need one. You don’t want to be in panic trying to track down a vet for the first time. Bryant says to ask friends and family and dog park pals. And once you get a line on one, consistency is important so your vet knows your dog. “If you are going to consider a veterinary practice, find out if your dog can see the same veterinarian each time.”

6. Training Your Dog – and Yourself
You’re settling in to your new routine, your new snuggly joy, your new… pile of chewed up slippers. Your next action item after getting a puppy? “Read a positive reinforcement training book and start with slow and steady training of your dog,” says Bryant. Your dog will learn – with the help of a good teacher. Everything from housetraining, socializing, managing separation anxiety, greeting people, commands, chewing, biting, jumping – the list is long. But training books and classes through a local animal group will do wonders. Lesson number one, says Bryant? “Be kind, be loving, be patient. Be the kind of person your dog deserves. You will get so much out of being a loving dog parent.”

Want more tips for first time dog owners? Connect with Carol on her website FidoseofReality.com or follow her on Twitter @FidoseofReality.

Some recommended reading for first time dog owners

How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete - Books for First Time Dog Owners Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller - Books for First Time Dog Owners Zak George's Dog Training Revolution - Books for First Time Dog Owners Canine Nutrigenomics by Jean Dodd The Puppy Primer by Patricia McConnell and Brenda Scidmore Train Your Dog Positively by Victoria Stilwell ISBN13: 978-1607744146 First Time Dog Owner