Dogs are known as man’s best friend, adorable pets that will give you unconditional love and constant companionship. But owning your first dog is a big step for anyone, and there are a lot of things that you will have to learn in order to keep your dog safe and happy. Here are a few things that every first time dog owner needs to know and do in preparation for the arrival of their new four-legged friend.
Things to Know
A dog is no small commitment
Back in the 70s, a UK charity coined the phrase “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas,” referring to the common problem of families buying dogs as Christmas presents, only to soon realize that they did not have the means or patience to train and raise the animal. The sentiment behind this phrase remains true today as it ever has been; a dog is no small commitment, and you need to be aware of what you are getting yourself into before you bring one home.
You will have to walk it regularly
Part of the commitment is on your time and energy. Whatever breed of dog you choose, you will have to walk it regularly, which will require a considerable portion of your daily life. Make sure you are prepared to sacrifice that before buying or adopting a dog.
It will cost you money
The other part of the huge commitment is money. Pets are not cheap, and you will be responsible for buying food, a bed, toys, and other supplies for your dog. You will also have to pay for vet visits or pet insurance, and any medical emergencies that come up.
It is entirely dependent on you
Unless you have children, you might not know what it is like to have someone be entirely dependent on you. And in some ways even more so than children, a pet is completely dependent on its owner, especially if that pet is a dog.
Things You Need to Do
Get the house ready
There are a lot of things that you need to do to get your house ready for a puppy or new dog. They are prone to getting into places they shouldn’t, and chewing or eating things that could harm them. Prepare your house before bringing your dog home, and make sure your yard is secure and fenced in.
Buy everything before your dog arrives
Here are some things that you will want to buy before you bring your dog home:
- Dog crate
- Dog toys
- Leash, collar, bowl.
- Dog food—make sure you get the right kind for your breed; WebMD provides some advice for this.
- A good dog shampoo that doesn’t make things worse. I use Nature’s Remedies Dog Shampoo because it is organic and guaranteed to be safe, but there are plenty of good Shampoos on the market.
Find a vet
Before you get your new dog, whether it is a puppy or a rescue, you will need to have a vet lined up. You will need to schedule a visit within the first few weeks to have a checkup and make sure that your pet has all of the necessary vaccinations.
Look into training or puppy classes
If you have a puppy you will need to train it, and the sooner the better. Training classes are a good place to start as it can help your puppy get used to interacting with other animals. There are also puppy groups that you can be a part of in order to socialize your puppy. There are a lot of training methods available, be careful not to fall for people that tell you that you will need to use negative reinforcement on your animal (shock collars, chokes, etc.). There are plenty of legitimate positive reinforcement methods that work just as well or better and are much more human. They also create a much stronger bond between dog and owner.
A dog is a big commitment, but if you are willing to put in the effort, it is one that will certainly pay off in the long run and be one of the most reward experiences you could ever ask for.