Bringing a dog home for the first time could be one of the most joyous times of your life. However, it could also be among the most trying because both you and your pet will need time to adjust to living with each other. If you’re a first-time dog owner, read on for some of the most important things you need to know before you bring your new puppy home.
Preparing Your Home for Your First Dog or Puppy
Whether you’re bringing home an adult dog or a very young pup, you need to prepare your living space to accommodate them. Plus, even if they’re supposedly potty trained, they’ll still need time to get used to their new home and schedule. So, before bringing your new pup home, it’s always best to put away valuables you want to protect. Those might include breakables, expensive area rugs, etc. As they progress in their house training, you can re-introduce these items into your home without fear.
Additionally, you’ll want to remove potentially harmful items. What could be dangerous to dogs might not be obvious, so make sure you check out Pet Poison Helpline’s guide for pet-proofing your home. You don’t need to get rid of all these products entirely. Just make sure they’re out of reach. If you have houseplants or a garden, check each of your plants against the ASPCA’s list of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants for Dogs.
What to Buy for Your New Dog
Although walking into a pet supply store for the first time is incredibly exciting, it could also become overwhelming, given the number of items and choices available. To help you out, here are some of the most important things you should buy for your dog:
- Pet Crate – If used correctly, a crate could be a place of security and comfort for your dog. Check out The Humane Society’s crate training guide.
- Dog Bed – You can buy a dog bed in addition to or instead of a crate. This will give your dog a place of their own to lounge and sleep on.
- Food & Water Bowls – Find the size to hold the right amount of food and water for your pup. For big dogs, make sure you have something to elevate the bowls, so they don’t stoop too low when they eat or drink.
- Potty Essentials – Get a scooper and some poop bags so you can clean up after your dog.
- Cleaning Products – Many household cleaning products might not be suited for dog messes. Make sure you get pet-safe products explicitly formulated for dog urine and feces.
- Lead & Harness – Collars are great for identification, but they pose some serious risks when used without supervision. Harnesses are generally safer and may be more comfortable to use when going out for walks. Also, don’t forget to find a suitable leash.
- Shampoo – Never bathe your dog with shampoo formulated for humans, or you risk shedding and skin irritation. Instead, select a pet-safe shampoo that’s suitable for your pup’s skin and coat.
- Brush – The brush you need depends mainly on the dog breed. Dogs with shorter hair need bristle brushes while those with long coats will need a slicker brush. In addition to a slicker brush, dogs with especially thick or curly coats will need a comb as well.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste – Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly will help you avoid serious oral issues in the future. And, the sooner you get them used to toothbrushing, the easier it will be. Also, make sure you use only dog-safe toothpaste. Those formulated for humans could have toxic ingredients like fluoride and xylitol.
- Toys – While toys might seem like a luxury, these are actually essential to having a well-behaved pup. Toys can keep them from chewing on things they’re not supposed to. Plus, they help expend excess energy and curb behavior problems. Lastly, these could also be very useful tools for dog training.
Feeding Your Dog
he decision on whether to feed your dog fresh or commercial pet food really depends on what works for you. Both can be excellent options for proper dog health. No matter which you choose, what’s important is getting them the nutrients they need at each stage of their development.
Feeding kibble to your dog tends to be more convenient. However, you’ll need to be careful with your choice as some dog foods have unnecessary fillers that don’t offer proper nourishment.
As for the feeding schedule, it generally depends on your dog’s age. Usually, weaned puppies below 6 months need to be fed three times a day while those older than 6 months can be fed once in the morning and once at night. Adult dogs can usually tolerate once-a-day feeding. However, that might make them prone to digestive issues and bloating. So, only do that if your schedule absolutely calls for it.
Keeping Your Dog Happy
Much of keeping your dog happy is about keeping them healthy. Apart from making sure they’re properly nourished and well-groomed, bring your dog for regular vet visits. That helps you keep them up-to-date on their required vaccinations. As a first-time dog parent, a routine check-up with your vet will also give you the peace of mind that everything is going great.
Apart from that, all you really need to do is spend as much time as you can with your pup. Take them out for walks or play with them to tire them out. Also, give them opportunities to socialize with other dogs. Lastly, just make time to hang out, acknowledge their presence, and give scratches and belly rubs as often as you can. With all that, you can be assured that your pup will want for nothing more.
With ample preparation, you can minimize the work and stress that inevitably comes with first-time dog ownership. That way, you can focus more on the joys of pet care and being a pet parent. Also, don’t pressure yourself too much. Dogs are resilient and forgiving. If you love them enough, you can trust your instincts in giving them the best care you can.