Welcoming a dog or puppy into your home is certainly exciting, but it is important for would be dog parents to prepare carefully. It is important to understand the needs of the dog and to prepare the home environment accordingly. It is also important to properly train and socialize the animal so that he or she will be not only a lifelong part of the family but a valued member of the canine community as well.
There are some things that every new dog owner should know, and those important tips are the focus of this article.
Tip 1 – Puppy or Adult Dog? Avoid a Snap Decision
While many animal lovers automatically gravitate to those cute and cuddly puppies, the advantages of adopting an older animal should not be overlooked. An older dog can be a good fit for many people, and it is important for first time dog owners to consider both puppies and more mature dogs.
Some of the advantages of the older dog can include a more settled personality, fewer potty training issues and a calmer home. Older dogs can also be less prone to injuries caused by well meaning but overactive younger children.
Of course older dogs can also come with deeply ingrained training issues and other problems, and every situation is unique. The bottom line is that it is important to choose all the options in order to find the best fit you’re your home and family.
Tip 2 – Be Careful Where You Buy Your New Dog
It is an unfortunate fact that there are many bad breeders out there, and it is important for all dog lovers to steer clear of these unethical businesspeople. Paying a personal visit to the breeder of your new puppy is a good start, but it is important to look around with a skeptical eye. If you can show up a little early for your appointment you may be able to better gauge the true nature of the kennel.
Look for signs of problems such as animals that appear sick, cages that look too small, dirty cages, etc. In addition to these practical gauges, let your gut be your guide. If something doesn’t seem right your inner voice may be trying to tell you something.
Tip 3 – Research Possible Health Problems from the Start
New dog owners, especially those with their heart set on a purebred animal, will need to be aware of the various health problems that plague certain breeds. From hip dysplasia issues with some larger breeds to heart problems in some small dogs, it is important to be aware of these possible heart breaking problems.
So take the time to do some research about the particular health issues that can affect your chosen breed. Then interview breeders with that information in hand. Genetic tests exist for many of the most common problems, and responsible breeders test their dogs and puppies prior to placing them in loving homes.
Tip 4 – Think About Training Before You Bring Your Puppy Home
Training should be an integral part of any dog owner’s life, and the time to research puppy training classes is before your new family member comes home.
There are many different training options available, from dog fancier clubs to special puppy kindergarten classes at the local pet store. It is a good idea to carefully research the options and observe a couple of classes before making a final decision.
Tip 5 – Find a Quality Veterinarian Right Away
All too many dog owners go looking for a vet when their pet becomes ill. It is far better to establish a relationship with a quality vet from the start. When looking for a vet, it is a good idea to ask for recommendations from family members, friends and coworkers. These people can provide the honest feedback you will need to make an intelligent and informed decision.
Many communities also provide independent research on the quality of local vets, and these resources can be quite valuable as well. When choosing a vet, it is also important to consider their proximity to your home. After all, emergencies do happen, and you will want to be able to get to the office quickly in the event something serious goes wrong. On a related note, be sure the veterinary office has after hours coverage for emergencies and that a vet will be on call at all hours of the day or night.
Tip 6 – Enroll in a Training Class Right Away
If you do end up adopting a puppy, it is a good idea to enroll him or her in a puppy kindergarten or similar training class as soon as possible. Getting training off to an early start will have many benefits for both two legged and four legged family members. For one thing, young puppies will retain their training much more easily than older dogs, and many of them will find the classes lots of fun.
Puppy training classes also give pets and their owners a great way to interact with one another in a casual environment. All dogs will need to learn how to behave around other animals and other people, and puppy training classes provide a safe environment for this type of learning.
Tip 7 – Seek the Advice of More Experienced Pet Owners
Many people who grew up around animals forget just how difficult it can be to welcome a new dog into the family. A new puppy or dog changes every aspect of the home environment, and that can be disconcerting for new dog owners. It is a good idea for new dog owners to reach out to their more experienced family members and friends, and vice versa.
The insights and experience provided by more experienced dog owners can be invaluable, and can cut months off the learning curve for those new owners. From training tips to food suggestions, this type of input is extremely important.
Tip 8 – Let Your Puppy Play
Toys are more than fun; they are a valuable learning tool for growing puppies. Make sure your new puppy has plenty of chew toys to keep those growing teeth occupied. Puppies will also use their toys to exercise and keep themselves fit, and of course pet owners will enjoy watching their pets interact with their fun new playthings.
When purchasing toys for puppies or even for older dogs, it is important to choose only well made and durable products. Dog toys that appear flimsy will likely not last long with a rambunctious puppy around, and poorly made toys could even be dangerous. Be sure to examine new toys for sharp edges or other defects, and look for signs of premature wear on existing toys as well.
Tip 9 – Choose a Great Food
The dog food industry is a highly competitive one, and many manufacturers try to keep shelf prices low by substituting inferior ingredients and adding fillers. It is important to read the list of ingredients when choosing a dog food, and to solicit the advice of breeders, vets and other experts before making a decision.
It is also important to control the amount of food available to your puppy or adult dog. While puppies will need plenty of high quality food to fuel their growth, too much food and too little exercise can mean an obese and unhealthy pooch. Monitoring your pet’s weight and health is one of the best things you can do to ensure a long and happy life.