What Every First-Time Dog Owner Should Know

What Every First-Time Dog Owner Should Know

by Janine DeVault

Bringing a new dog into your home isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. While life is bound to be better with a canine pal by your side, there may be some challenges to overcome as you adjust to living together.

This first-time dog owner guide will help you and your new pup get off on the right foot. We’ll cover everything from how to prep for your dog's arrival to how to manage the first days at home to how to establish a consistent routine for harmonious living.

Establish Some Ground Rules

Before you bring your dog home, hold a family meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the dog’s boundaries. This will help eliminate confusion for both your family and your new pup.

Are there rooms in the home your dog won’t have access to? Will you allow your pup on the furniture? Is feeding him table scraps allowed? Make sure that everyone in the home understands the rules so you can all enforce them consistently.

New Dog Shopping List

Make sure you have all of the necessary dog care items on hand before you bring your pup home. This means you’ll have more time to spend with your dog in these early days, rather than roaming the aisles of the pet store.

Your new dog shopping list should include:

  • A collar
  • A leash
  • A pet ID tag
  • Food bowls
  • Assorted toys
  • A crate
  • Treats for training
  • A bed

If you’ll be bringing home a puppy, you may also need items like pee pads and cleaning products.

Get Social

Once your dog is home, you’ll want to take your time helping him adjust to his new environment. Be sure you spend plenty of time socializing and playing with him to begin building your bond.

Start by showing him around the house and yard so he knows where his home is. Then, once he’s more comfortable with you, begin taking him on short walks to get to know the neighborhood.

Some dogs are quick to warm up to their new homes, while others may take days or even months. Don’t be discouraged if your pup seems timid for the first few days. Remain patient and encouraging as you help your pup explore his new surroundings.

Fido’s First Vet Visit

It’s always a good idea to have your new pup evaluated by a veterinarian when you first bring him home. If your dog is from a shelter, he may have afflictions like fleas or kennel cough, which need treating. He may also need some vaccinations.

As a first-time dog owner, this vet visit is valuable for you as well. Make sure you go armed with any questions you have regarding dog care. Ask your vet what your dog’s ideal weight is, and get diet recommendations, a vaccination schedule and anything else you can think of.

If your pup needs any medications or vaccinations, this first visit may be slightly costly. It’s a good idea to have a few hundred dollars set aside for veterinary expenses before you bring your new dog home.

Stick to a Routine

A consistent routine is one of the best ways to help you and your dog adjust to life together. Feed him and walk him at the same time every day so he knows what to expect from you.

This will help prevent your dog from becoming anxious or even destructive. It’ll also ensure you have time set aside to spend with your dog!

Stay Patient

There’s no doubt that being a first-time dog owner might feel overwhelming at times. Your new dog may test your patience, but with diligence and a consistent schedule, you’ll soon find a rhythm with your new best friend.

Remember, some dogs take months to fully warm up to their new homes. Don’t rush your pup; just offer him consistent love and support.

Janine DeVault is a pet care writer, animal rescue advocate and former celebrity dog walker. She lives in Mexico with her three rescue pets, Maia, Fozzy and Kesi.

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