Pet Ownership 101: 10 Things Every First-Time Dog Owner Should Know
Whether you’re a college student or senior citizen, adopting your first dog is a momentous and exciting experience. No doubt you’ve got your new best friend’s food and bowls, bag of treats, new leash and collar, and shiny toys ready to go. But fun and kibble aren’t the only the responsibilities of being a good pet owner.
While lots of love and good nutrition are certainly an important part of pet ownership, it’s also important to consider how your new four-legged friend will impact your home and life, and plan accordingly.
These 10 pointers will help you begin your new life as a pet owner and provide the best care possible to your pet.
- Just because this is your first dog, doesn’t mean you have to adopt a puppy. There are lots of adult and senior dogs in need of loving, forever homes, too; and one of them may be the perfect dog for you! Take the time to consider your lifestyle, activity level, and patience before adopting. Likewise, research what breeds will match your life best and adopt accordingly.
- It’s important to pet-proof your home. Make sure that your dog can’t get a hold of any wires, remotes, shoes, or poisonous plants that he or she can chew and possibly eat. These household items can cause potential threats to your pet’s health (and be costly to remove).
- Start training early. You don’t have to wait until your dog is six-months old before you start teaching him or her how to sit, come, stay, and walk on a leash. Likewise, invest some time in training new-to-you adult dogs, too. The time you take opening the lines of communication now will benefit you both for years to come.
- When training your dog, always use voice commands and visual cues. Never resort to hitting your pet in order to teach him or her to obey. This will only make your dog defensive and harder to train. Using voice commands and positive rewards will allow you to train your pet more quickly and easily.
- Socialization is very important for dogs, especially young pups. Allow your new pet to interact with other people, animals, and places during his or her young life so that he or she is less afraid of new people and situations.
- Bad habits are easy to start, but difficult to break. Avoid feeding people food to your pet from the table, sharing your bed, or allowing your pet to jump up on people from the get go. You’ll be glad you invested the time from the start.
- Keep your pet groomed and well-nourished. Feed your pet a pet food that is specifically designed for his or her life stage and breed, and allow your pet continual access to plenty of water. Dogs with longer hair should be brushed daily or weekly, and all pets should be checked regularly for pests, such as ticks or fleas.
- Your pet’s health is very important, and regular visits to the vet are a major part of being a responsible pet owner. Your veterinarian is dedicated to ensuring your pet remains happy and healthy throughout his or her life, so heed your vet’s advice when whenever it is given.
- The physical health of your pet is just as important as his or her internal health. Ensure your pet gets the exercise he or she needs by taking regular walks or playing in the backyard with your dog, or installing a nice cat tower compete with scratching post and platforms.
- When you adopt a pet, you are making a life-long commitment. As your pet ages, he or she will need you more the ever, right up to the very end. Please don’t adopt unless you’re prepared to hold your pet’s paw as he or she passes.
Becoming a pet owner is fun and exciting, but it is also a lot of responsibility. If you’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure that your pet will be comfortable, happy, and healthy within your home, you can begin a wonderful, life-changing journey with that new member of your family.
We look forward to meeting your new canine companion and partnering with you for a lifetime of health and happiness!