3 Essential Tips for Every First-Time Dog Owner

If you’ve made the decision to get a dog for the first time, you should want to be the best dog parent you can. Rescuing a dog from a shelter is not enough - you must do whatever you can (in many cases, make sacrifices) to ensure that your new dog is healthy, happy, and safe. Here are some essential tips for every first-time dog owner.

Daily exercise is mandatory

Taking your dog for a walk is not just a suggested activity - it’s mandatory. Without enough exercise, your dog will not only be less healthy, but they may exhibit a wide range of behavioral issues. Dogs need to expel energy, and if you don’t give them a healthy way to do it, they will take matters into their own hands. That pair of shoes you just bought looks mighty interesting to a bored dog.

If you simply don’t have the time to walk your dog yourself (sometimes work can be all-consuming), you should make arrangements to make sure your dog gets the exercise they need. Hiring a dog walker is incredibly easy these days, as apps have made it as simple as tapping a few buttons on your phone and scheduling dog walkers in your area. 

Simply walking your dog around the neighborhood can get boring, for sure. Do note that you can fill your exercise quota in a variety of ways. Take your dog to the local dog park and let them play with other dogs. Go on a camping/hiking trip. Play frisbee. Play fetch in the backyard. Go swimming. Don’t be limited when it comes to what activities you do with your dog. Varying their exercise will not only make it less boring for you, but it will help you bond with your new dog as well.

Know how to prepare your home

You need to know what steps to take to prepare your home for your new arrival - not just for the safety of your home but for the safety of your dog as well. You should keep a new dog confined to a relatively small area - at least until they acclimate to their new surroundings. But after that, when your dog has freer range of the home, you should make some adjustments. Store any dangerous items like household cleaners on a top shelf or cabinet. Tape down/hide all electrical cords. Think about potential choking hazards and remove them. If you’re house training, invest in some pee pads.

Also, make sure that you have all the essential items ready from day one. A brief list of these will include food/water bowls, age-appropriate food, toys, a dog bed, a leash, a collar with proper ID tags, and any flea & tick medication.

Begin training from day one

Dogs love structure, and it makes them happy to follow commands (and be rewarded for it). You should begin training your dog from day one. If you adopt a rescue dog that is older, you must assume that you are starting from square one. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog - it’s way more effective than punishment. Be generous and quick with treats while training. Always praise your dog for coming to you, sitting, being quiet, and not begging for food. Know that your dogs will take its cues from your demeanor. If you’re calm, your dog will be too. If you’re aggressive and quick to yell, you will only put your dog on edge. Check here for some useful dog training tips.

In the end, the best tip is to be patient. Dogs are often timid in new environments. Rescue dogs may have been through some harrowing experiences and they need time to begin to trust again. Puppies are not just small adults - they are essentially babies. When you buy a dog you’re investing in a future companion. You must put in the work to ensure that investment is a good one.

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Author: Jessica Brody (