Having a loyal, affectionate canine companion by your side can certainly be a fulfilling experience, but being a successful dog owner involves a lot of effort. Make your experience easier with these six tips and tricks for first-time dog owners.
Photo Credit: Photo Lab Pet Photography
Evaluate your Lifestyle
Make sure you know where the dog will go when you are not at home. Leaving a dog alone in an unprotected yard is dangerous because of possible theft, especially if your new dog is an expensive breed. Tying it up outside won't make you popular with neighbors, and is illegal in some areas.
Establish an Indoor Space
If you don't want your new dog to have access everywhere, make sure to put up gates. Even adult dogs might have accidents when changing environments, so protect carpets when you first bring your dog home, or keep them in a room with easy-to-clean floors until they acclimate.
Don't Underestimate Small Dogs' Requirements
Small dogs might make better pets for smaller spaces, but need the same amount of training as larger dogs. Also, they don't necessarily make better pets for children just because of their size. Don't rule out small dogs; just know what to expect.
Find a Good Groomer
Dogs have different grooming needs, but all need services like nail trimming and bathing. Even short-haired dogs need to be brushed, and long-haired breeds definitely need regular grooming. A groomer from Paw Palace Dog Grooming recommends researching breed-specific grooming requirements before deciding on a dog to adopt. Don't try to take care of all grooming yourself—doing so can result in injury to your dog—find a groomer your pet is comfortable with to accommodate their grooming and upkeep needs.
Train the Dog
Even when you adopt a dog or puppy that has already been trained, you need to keep it up. They need to obey all family members in order for everyone in your household to be safe. For example, “heel” is necessary when walking the dog to keep it out of the road.
Keep in mind that training is not just about what you do, but also about what you fail to address. For example, when the dog exhibits undesirable behavior and you do not correct it immediately, you are “training” it to keep engaging in that behavior. Make sure everyone in the household understands this.
Know the Difference Between Discipline and Punishment
Disciplining your dog can provide a sense of structure and security many dogs need, but hitting will not. Proper discipline can include distraction (a loud noise), redirection (telling the dog to sit), or putting the dog into “time out".
Just like people, dogs come with different personalities. Some will blend right in, and some might need a bit of help. Pick up or download a good dog manual, and don't hesitate to ask your veterinarian or a reputable trainer for help.
Emma Sturgis is a freelance writer currently living in Boston. When not writing, she enjoys baking and indoor rock climbing. Find her on Google +.