"Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn't ever know we had."
- Thom Jones
Becoming a dog owner is a big step in your life. From choosing a puppy versus an adult dog to determining what breed will make the best companion, you have many decisions to make before bringing your furry bundle home. Here are the top things first-time pet parents need to know.
All breeds of dogs have advantages and disadvantages, so the first step in becoming a pet parent is figuring out what breed fits your family best. For example, if you have a small yard, you may want a pet who doesn’t need a lot of space to run. Breed characteristics such as coat type and hair length also factor in, since allergies can cause your human family members to suffer the moment your new pup comes home.
You may want to use a tool like the American Kennel Club’s Dog Breed Selector to narrow down your options. Even if you plan to adopt from a shelter, knowing what breed would fit your lifestyle, home, and preferences can help you make the right (permanent) decision. Breed selectors consider your experience with pets, your household makeup, and how much time you can dedicate to training your pup.
Depending on the age and breed of your new pet, preparing your home may be simple or highly involved. Bringing home a puppy, for example, may require steps similar to baby- proofing. Plus, you will need to decide where your pup will sleep, eat, and how you’ll manage potty trips. For puppies, extra supplies like absorbent pads and chew toys are also crucial.
Establishing an area for your dog to sleep and escape from household excitement is part of preparing for their arrival. As The Humane Society explains, crate training is an excellent way to use your dog’s natural instincts to everyone’s advantage. Their crate—or “den”—becomes a safe place that they feel comfortable in, which is a benefit to the whole family.
When you bring your pup home, dog-whisperer Cesar Millan recommends staying as calm as possible as you introduce them to the neighborhood. He suggests a walk around town to get your dog to relax and work out nervous energy. Then, a tour of your home is in order, as well as a tour of your puppy’s new bed and eating area.
Beginning to teach commands and house rules is another vital part of adding a furry friend to your family. Cesar says that establishing boundaries from day one lets your dog know what to expect and ensures he or she knows their place at home.
For dogs who may be timid at first, such as rescue pups with tough backgrounds, giving the dog time to get comfortable can help. Patience, consistency in routines, and positive reinforcement can help even the most nervous of pups settle down, Modern Dog Magazine explains.
Adopting a pet is rewarding, but it also has its challenges. For one, your furry family member might feel tempted to explore and get lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Microchipping is an essential first step toward keeping your pet safe.
But investing in a GPS dog tracker can offer a quicker solution to tracking your pet down without the help of the local animal shelter or veterinarian. Using your smartphone or tablet, you can home in on your pup’s GPS location and ensure they get home safely. Some trackers provide additional features like health and activity tracking, so they’re helpful in non-emergency scenarios, too.
Bonding with your pup is one of the most enjoyable parts of pet parenthood. And it’s easy to do, no matter the age or background of your dog. Canine Journal explains that doing things like playing fetch or tug-of-war, going for walks, and even training count as bonding experiences. The more time you spend one-on-one with your pet, the more they learn to trust you, and the deeper your bond will grow. In no time, they’ll feel like part of the family.
Title photo via Unsplash