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Helpful tips for new dog owners

Helpful tips for new dog owners

Welcome to the world of being a pet parent - you've added a dog to your family! Becoming a parent to a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience that will provide you with a wonderful relationship. However, when you first own a dog, it can seem daunting and overwhelming because there is so much to think about!

Having a dog means a lot of responsibility, but being well prepared will make it easier for you and your dog to adjust to the new lifestyle. Your dog is now completely dependent on you, especially for a healthy and happy life. So take some time first to get everything you need in place, and consider the following tips for first-time dog owners that will help you become better-prepared pet parents.

Buy the basics

There are a few items that are of great importance:

A collar for the insurance and a Tasso tag
A harness (relieves pressure on the neck when he pulls)
Food bowl
Water bowl
Leash
Toys for playing, teething (for puppies) and amusement
A comfortable dog bed
Grooming products, such as shampoo and toothpaste
Dog treats
Toothbrush for dogs
Preventative treatment against fleas and ticks

As you and your dog get used to the routine as new best friends, other optional gear may be added to the list.

It's easy to get lost in gear purchases for your pet, but remember that dogs, just like children, can outgrow their gear, especially if you're taking in a puppy.

Find a veterinarian

Before you bring your dog home, you should research a suitable veterinary practice and register him already if necessary. You should then also register him for a health check as soon as possible so that he can get used to the vet visits and the vet can get to know him!
You should also start routine vaccinations now. Vaccinations are important to protect your dog's health and life and help prevent future expensive vet bills. The initial vaccinations will protect your dog from distemper, parvovirosis, infectious canine hepatitis, kennel cough and leptospirosis.

The veterinarian can additionally advise you on the best regular flea and worming regimen for your four-legged friend, as well as advise you on issues such as neutering. Although not essential, neutering is recommended if you do not wish to breed as it can prevent later problems such as mammary cancer and incontinence in females, and testicular cancer and aggression in males.

If an incident does occur, veterinary bills can be expensive. Therefore, you should make sure you have adequate pet insurance to help with the cost of your dog's medical care and general well-being.

Bill or no bill, it's still wise to visit the vet once or twice a year to get vaccinations refreshed, checkups done, and teeth thoroughly cleaned!

Get to grips with dog dental care

Can you imagine not brushing your teeth every day between visits to the dentist? Neither can we. Dogs get plaque buildup just like we do, so we need to brush their teeth too!

Try brushing two to three times a week with an enzymatic dog toothpaste and use a mouth rinse daily. Human toothpaste is off-limits for dogs, as it can contain ingredients that are harmful to a dog's digestion.

The younger your dog is, the easier it is to get him used to brushing his teeth. If you've adopted an older dog, it can be more difficult, but with a little patience and practice, you can do it too! You can start with an "invisible" finger brush. This is a brush that sits on the end of your finger.

Exercise, diet and nutrition

Like humans, dogs live by routine and need to be fed and exercised at similar times every day.

Diet is also very important. A good diet helps them stay lean and healthy, and ensures they get the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Always use a serving of whole, commercial dog food, and if you decide to switch foods, do so over a slow period of time to avoid upset stomachs.

The breeder or dog adoption center should educate on what your dog has already been eating. If you are unsure, ask your veterinarian for advice.

When it comes to exercise, each breed has different needs, and all dogs should be fully vaccinated before going on a walk.

Remember that puppies and older dogs need a variation of the above suggestions. For example, puppies need about 5 minutes of exercise per month of their age until they are full grown. For example, when they are three months old, they can be walked for a maximum of 15 minutes twice a day. When they are 4 months old, this can go up to 20 minutes twice a day, etc.

If you have taken in an older dog (7 years and older), they will need less strenuous exercise and shorter walks. It is best to discuss your dog's exercise needs with your veterinarian.

Obedience training

If you have a puppy, be sure to check out our guide to housetraining your new puppy, as this will likely be your top priority!

When it comes to obedience, going to a dog training school can be fantastic, especially if you're brand new pet owners!

When choosing a class, make sure the trainer's methods are friendly, positive, and reward-based. If a course or trainer suggests punishment or the use of devices such as choke or electric collars, be sure to avoid them! These classes are questionable, stressful, and ultimately an ineffective way to train your dog. These methods only ensure that the dog becomes afraid of people and you. The focus of dog training should be on praise, food and play for good performance, not scolding or physical pain.

Unfortunately, there are not many regulations for dog training centers or trainers. Therefore, make sure that the trainer seems friendly, experienced, qualified, and able to handle the number of dogs attending the class at one time.

Alternatively, there are many dog clubs that offer free training videos online!

Remember that patience is a virtue. Your dog will have no intention of misbehaving, and the calmer your dog becomes, the better he will understand you and exhibit better behavior.

Interaction

CHILDREN:
Never leave a child alone with a dog, especially if they are brand new to your family. Communicate and teach children that the dog is a member of the family and that they must never yell at it or run toward it, harass or hurt it, be violent or aggressive toward it, and never encourage biting during play.

When a dog is scared or in pain, it will instinctively bite and/or growl to protect itself. If you encourage gentle, friendly interaction between the children and the dog and are always present, puppy and child(ren) should get used to each other well.

OTHER DOGS:
If your dog is fully vaccinated, they can be socialized with other dogs. Being around other puppies from a young age is invaluable to their natural development!

Do it right from the start and make sure your dog is on a leash when meeting other dogs in the early stages of socialization, so you have better control of the situation if there is a negative reaction.

Stay focused and calm and adopt a positive tone so your dog knows he is in safe hands while he learns. If an altercation between dogs occurs, move to neutral ground before trying again and use the command "No" if it was your dog that exhibited the aggressive behavior (growling/barking).

In time, your puppy should become accustomed to interacting with other dogs and simply greet his four-legged friends with a few sniffs!

If the puppy is a rescue dog and has a history of being mistreated or attacked by other dogs, don't expect too much from him as he will rightfully be very anxious and scared. Patience and positive encouragement can help.

Consider time off work

To help your dog adjust, it might be worthwhile to stay home for a week or more. This way, you can get him used to a routine and help him extend the time he is left alone. In this way, you can reduce the risk of separation anxiety. However, you should not leave a puppy alone for more than 2 hours and adult dogs for more than 4-6 hours. If you must leave your dog alone for longer periods of time, such as if you work full time and don't have the ability to take the dog to the office, you should hire a friendly dog sitter to take care of your new pet!

Have fun being a new puppy-pawrent!