6 Tips for a First-Time Dog Owner - The Trupanion Blog
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6 Tips for a First-Time Dog Owner

new dog owner

Bringing a dog into your home can bring about more changes than you can ever possibly imagine. Along with the responsibility of caring for a new dog comes the effort you’ll need to get them off on the right paw.

Whether you bring home a small pup or an adult dog, you will need to give them time to settle down and get accustomed to their new home. You will have to give your dog plenty of love, care, attention, and training to get desired results.

If it’s your first time being a dog parent, you’ll need to learn the basics of training and care to ensure a smooth beginning.

Here are a few tips for any brand new dog owner out there on how to get your pet parenting act together.

1. Breed Matters

Before bringing home your first dog, research a breed that suits you best. Different dog breeds—purebred, mixed, or hybrids— have different characteristics. While some dogs are extremely active others require a more sedentary lifestyle.

The breed you choose depends on the qualities that you want in your dog companion. If you enjoy spending time outdoors and physical activities, then it will be great if you choose breeds like Labrador Retriever, Siberian Husky, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Poodle or Dalmatian. These dogs like staying physically and mentally active, and are great outdoor companions.

But on the contrary, if you are less of an outdoor person and enjoy spending time at home or relaxing in front of TV, then consider breeds that will suit your lifestyle.  Bull Mastiff, Chow Chow, Great Dane, French Bulldog and Pug are known to be low-energy dogs. A short walk or light daily exercise will be more than enough to keep these low-energy dogs happy and satisfied.

Mixed breed dogs also make great running partners and snuggle buddies. Wherever you decide to get a dog, be sure to talk to the breeder or rescue organization about your lifestyle and whether the pup will be a good fit for your home.

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Even before you bring your dog home; make sure you have everything that your pooch will require at the ready. This includes dog food, toys, leash and collar, food and water bowls, and a crate.

Getting prepared ahead of time is essential to make the adjustment period less stressful. While the upfront costs may add up, it’s not smart to compromise on quality. Keep an eye out for online sales, coupons or dog food freebies to save on purchases and ask neighbors and friends for any items they may be able to donate to you.

3. Pick the Right Leash

It is important to choose effective walking equipment to train your new dog. Walking your dog and managing the leash right will help establish you as the pack leader.

Six-foot long nylon or leather leashes are the best option for training. Try to avoid retractable leashes—they often encourage dogs to pull and can break if the dog tries to run after a squirrel.

It is important that you teach your dog to walk without pulling on the leash. You may want to allow freedom to your dog, but you need help initially in getting there. Talk to your veterinarian about the best collar or harness options. Martingale collars are popular because they prevent twisting and stay in place. It is important that you teach your dog to walk without pulling on the leash. You may want to allow freedom to your dog, but you need help initially in getting there. No-pull harnesses give you maximum control over the movement of your pooch.

For everyday wear you can go for a breakaway collar that will unsnap if it gets caught in something, thereby ensuring your pet does not choke. Also, do not forget to order an identification tag and consider getting your pooch microchipped.

4. Choose the Right Food

There is a huge variety of dog food available today. You need to choose one that’s able to meet the dietary requirements of your pooch.

Buy only trusted brands of dog food or what is recommended by your veterinarian. It is necessary that the product lists high-quality protein as one of the top few ingredients.

If your dog is already used to a particular brand of dog food it will be better if you do not initiate any change immediately. Sudden changes in diet can lead to diarrhea or other conditions. Mix small amounts of the new food with the old to gradually get your dog used to it.

Talk to your veterinarian about switching your dog’s food. Guidelines regarding frequency and quantity of feed can be found on the food bag or on the website of the pet food company.

5. Make Health a Priority

A healthy and strong dog requires regular visits to the veterinarian. Find out about the vets in your area and choose the one you would like to work with. Qualification, experience, and expertise all matter.

It will be great if your vet shares your passion for pet health and respects your attitude towards core dog health issues. A patient and highly skilled veterinarian will be able to handle even the most difficult dogs with ease.

As soon as you bring your pet home, ensure they have all of their vaccinations. A complete health checkup will help spot any problem with your pet’s health. If your pooch is not neutered or spayed, get the surgery done as soon as possible.

Be sure to budget for annual veterinary exams and wellness care. Consider medical insurance for your pet to help cover any unexpected veterinary expenses throughout their life.

6. Socialize Your New Best Friend

Your dog will be nervous and unsure about his new home and family. It is important that you introduce him to your friends and family, and other pets, if there are any.

But it is equally important that you keep the first few days less hectic for your dog. Too many unfamiliar faces can prove to be stressful for the new member in your family.

Slow and steady should be your mantra regarding socializing your new dog.


Bringing a new dog into your family can be equally stressful for all involved. It is important that you take things slow and try not rushing your dog into unfamiliar things. With patience, persistence, and training, your dog will soon develop habits and behavior that is best suited to your family.

About the Author: Ann Neal is a writer with a keen interest in career, pets, health and lifestyle topics. She writes regular articles for Freebies. She is passionate about music and loves to play guitar in her free time with her cute pooch listening quietly ;). Tweet her – @Ann_G_Neal


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