The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your First Dog

Being a dog parent requires utmost commitment and preparation.

You need to be able to provide them with everything they need; a warm and comfortable home, plenty of food and water, regular exercise, and most importantly, love.

Most first-time dog owners find it hard to deal with dog challenges along the way. You have to know that dogs can be messy; they may bark excessively or chew on your things. But with patience and proper training, your furry friend will soon become a well-behaved member of the family.

Where do you begin keeping a dog as a first-time dog owner? It might be challenging if you don’t have the right information. Some of the questions you keep asking yourself include:

  • How do I potty train my dog?
  • What type of food should I feed my dog?
  • How often should I take my dog to the vet?

Don’t worry, we have you covered. This is the ultimate guide to keeping your first dog. It covers everything you need to get started, including how to choose the right dog breed.

Factors to Consider Before Bringing a Dog Home

Woman petting a dog
woman petting a dog

Keeping a dog is a big responsibility. You must be prepared to handle the daily care of your pet.

Before you take the plunge and bring a wet nose, waggly-tailed dog into your home, consider the following factors:

Are You Ready to Commit?

Most first-time dog owners don’t know that dogs are not low-maintenance pets. They require time, patience, and effort to care for them properly. Will you or any other family member get time to walk the dog three times a day?

Will you remember to exercise the dog every evening? If you’re not ready to commit to taking care of a dog, perhaps you should wait until you’re in a place in your life where you can give them the attention they deserve.

Can You Afford It?

Dogs are expensive. They need

  • Food
  • Good environment
  • Vaccinations
  • Toys
  • Occasional trips to the vet
  • Spaying/neutering
  • Microchipping

The annual cost of dog parenting is between $1,500 and 9,900. This depends on the breed, its size, and your location.

The breakdown of these costs is shown in the table below:

Type of ExpenseAnnual Estimate
Food and treats$250-$700
Collars and leashes$20-$50
Ongoing vet care$700-$2,000
Preventative medications and supplements$200-$600
Training classes and resources$25-$300
Dog walking and exercise$0-$5,200
Boarding of petsitters$100-$300
Average monthly cost of dog parenting$125-$824
Annual Total$1,500-$9,900
The annual cost for dog parenting

Apart from the cost of maintaining the dog, you must be aware of the initial investment cost to own a dog. This will depend on the dog breed you want and the breeder.

Buying a purebred dog costs anywhere between $500-and $2,000.

Adopting a dog from the pound is cheaper and will cost you around $50 to $200.

Be prepared for some additional costs such as obedience training, collars, leashes, crates, and dog beds.

You should also have some money set aside for unexpected medical expenses.

Living Arrangements

Dogs need space to run and play. If you live in an apartment with a small balcony, this may not be the right environment for a high-energy dog breed.

Consider whether or not your landlord permits dogs in the rental agreement.

If you own a home, ensure it’s dog-friendly. Some of the things that can harm a dog at home include chewing gums, chocolate, raisins, and avocado.

It’s best to do a quick check of your home and get rid of anything that could potentially harm your dog.

Your Lifestyle

Do you frequently travel for work or go on weekend getaways? If so, you may not have enough time to properly care for a dog.

Dogs need daily exercise, and if you’re not around to provide this for them, it’s best to wait until your lifestyle is more flexible.

Other family members such as young children also need to be considered. Your child may not be comfortable around a dog for the first time. If you have a young kid (less than 5 years), it might be necessary to wait until he/she attains the age of 5 to get a dog.

Your Health

Some people are allergic to dogs.

Dogs shed fur and dander, which can trigger allergies in some people. If you have asthma or pet allergies, it’s best not to get a dog.

You should also consider your energy levels. If you’re not in the best of health, a high-energy dog breed is probably not right for you.

Breed Selection

Dogs have different personalities depending on the breed. Some breeds are easy to train, while others can be stubborn.

Some breeds are better suited for families with small children, while others do best in single-person households.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are 340 dog breeds worldwide, of which 199 are common. This can make choosing the right dog breed for you a daunting task.

The best way to choose the right dog breed is to do your research. Talk to friends and family who own dogs, visit your local animal shelter, or consult with a veterinarian.

Take the time to find a breed that’s compatible with your lifestyle and personality by considering:

  • Size
  • Amount of daily exercise
  • Temperament
  • Energy level
  • Grooming needs
  • Intelligence
  • Barking tendencies
  • Shedding frequency 

You should also consider the health problems that are common to certain breeds. For example, German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia while Poodles often suffer from patellar luxation.

By doing your research, you’ll be able to find the perfect dog breed for you and your family.

The table below shows the most common dog breeds by country:

Dog BreedImageCountry Where Popular
Golden RetrieverUnited States of America
French BulldogThe United Kingdom
Cane CorsoSlovakia
most common dog breeds

Now that you know what to consider before getting a dog, it’s time to start your search. The best way to find a compatible dog is by visiting your local animal shelter.

Search for a Good Dog Breeder

The first few weeks of breeding and raising a puppy are fundamental to the rest of her life. Low-quality care from a bad breeder and puppy farms can cause serious health and behavior problems that are difficult to fix.

When looking for a good dog breeder, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Reputable breeders will be able to provide you with references.
  • A good breeder will want to meet you and ask you questions about your lifestyle and experience with dogs.
  • The breeder should be able to provide you with the health certificates of the puppy’s parents.
  • The puppies should be well-socialized and comfortable around people.
  • The breeder should allow you to visit their facility and meet the puppy’s parents.
  • A good dog breeder will be able to answer all of your questions and put your mind at ease.

Meeting the pup’s parents is a key consideration before you make any move. It’s the only way you’ll know how your potential pup will behave as an adult.

Don’t be afraid to ask the breeder about the health and behavior problems that are common in the breed. If you notice that the breeder is not fully answering your questions to get you satisfied, walk away.

Get Your New Puppy From a Shelter

If you’re not set on a particular breed, you can always adopt a dog from a shelter. The following are the key benefits of adopting a dog:

  • You’ll be giving a home to a dog in need
  • Adopting a dog is usually cheaper than buying one from a breeder
  • Shelters have a variety of dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds
  • You can find purebreds and mixed breeds at most shelters

When adopting a dog, visit the shelter more than once to get to know the dog.

Be prepared to answer questions about your lifestyle and experience with dogs.

Adopting a dog from a shelter is a great way to find your new best friend.

Puppy or Adult Dog?

There are pros and cons to both puppies and adult dogs.

Puppies are:

  • Cute
  • Full of energy
  • Easier to potty train

Adult dogs are:

  • Calmer
  • More settled in their personality
  • Potty trained 

Before deciding on this, consider if:

  • You have the time to train a new puppy
  • You’re prepared for potty accidents
  • You can handle a lot of energy
  • You want a dog with an already established personality

Based on these considerations, you should be able to decide whether a puppy or an adult dog is right for you as a first-time dog owner.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, an adult dog is the better choice. An adult dog will not need as much supervision or training as a new puppy.

Puppies require a lot of time and energy. They need to be house-trained, vaccinated, and socialized. If you’re not prepared for that commitment, an adult dog may be a better fit.

Shopping List

Before you bring your first dog home, you’ll need to do some shopping. The following is a list of items you’ll need:

Dog Crate

You’ll need a place for your dog to stay when no one is around to supervise her. A dog crate is a perfect solution. It will provide confinements for safety reasons or when traveling, dog security, prevent destructive behavior and help with potty training.

Dog Bed

You want a comfortable sleeping environment for your new friend. A dog bed is a great way to give her a cozy spot of her own. Beds are designed specially to provide: joint support, insulation from drafts, and extra warmth.

Dog Food and Water Bowls

You’ll need a place for your dog to eat and drink. Invest in good quality dog foods and a water bowl that is the right size for your dog.

The right food for your dog must contain meat, grains, vegetables, and fruit.

Avoid foods that are high in fillers and preservatives.

Dog Collar and Leash

You’ll need a collar and leash to take your dog for walks. A harness is also a good option if your dog pulls on the leash.

Make sure the collar or harness fits snugly but is not too tight.

Choose a leash that is comfortable to hold and is the right length for your dog.

A collar is a must for identification purposes in case your dog ever gets lost.

Dog Leads

A lead is a shorter leash that is used to keep your dog close by your side.

It’s a good idea to have a lead for walking in crowded areas or when you need more control over your dog.

Dog Toys

Toys are important for two reasons: they provide mental stimulation and help prevent boredom.

Choose toys that are appropriate for your dog’s size, age, and chewing habits. Toys that can pose a choking hazard must be avoided.

Worming Tablets

Worming tablets are an important part of keeping your dog healthy. They help prevent parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms by killing the worms in your dog’s intestines.

You should worm your dog every three months.

Puppy Pads

Puppy pads are an essential part of potty training your new pup. They provide a place for your new pup to relieve herself indoors. Puppy pads should be placed in a designated area away from her food and water bowls.

Once your puppy is trained, you can phase out the use of puppy pads.

Chew Treats

Chew treats are a great way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. They also help relieve boredom and provide mental stimulation. Choose chew treats that are made with natural ingredients like meat and vegetables. Avoid those that are high in sugar or salt.

Bringing Your New Dog Home for the First Time

ultimate guide to keeping your first dog
man petting a dog

Bringing your new friend home requires proper tactics and planning. You’re taking the dog from an environment she is used to to a new place. Your guess is as good as mine; she’ll be afraid and attempt to run away. What should you do?

To successfully bring your dog home, follow the below procedure:

  1. Use a crate: Carry the dog in a crate from the breeding or adoption center. Only remove her and put her on a leash when you get home.
  2. Maintain calmness: You must remain calm throughout the process. If you get anxious, your dog will sense it and feel the same way.
  3. Take a walk with the dog: It’s time to introduce the dog to her new neighborhood. Keep her on the leash and take a long walk. This walk will also help to drain the dog’s energy and calm her to get used to the new environment.
  4. Introduce her to the new home: When you come from the walk, it’s time to introduce the dog to your condo, apartment, or house. Go with the dog up to the front door but don’t let her enter the house first, if possible, make her lie down as you open the door. Enter the house first then invite her.
  5. Inside tour: Once in the house, keep the dog on the leash and take her from room to room. You must spend a few minutes in each room before leaving. Ensure to keep the lead as this is the way to establish authority.
  6. Feeding area: Once done with the room, take the dog to her feasting point. Give her some water and food. Don’t give her an entire bowl because she’s still on the leash.
  7. Dog’s bedroom: After some minutes, it’s time to show the dog her bedroom or resting place. Put her bedding there and let her explore the area. Leave her for some time in the room, so she gets used to being there.
  8. Remain calm and assertive: After going through the above steps with your dog, it’s time to let her off the leash in the house. But you must remain calm and assertive throughout. If she tries to run away, don’t panic or chase her. Instead, keep your voice firm and relaxed as you call her back.

Expert Tip: Maintaining the lead in every step is a way to establish yourself as a pack leader. The dog must understand that you are in control and she must follow your commands. After some days, you can reduce the lead’s length until you get to the point of not using it.

Choosing a Vet

You’ll need to go for a vet visit at least once a year for a check-up and vaccinations. Apart from check-ups, you’ll need a vet any time your dog pet falls sick. As a result, you must have the best vet in town.

An advantage of having an excellent vet is that you’ll be using their services throughout unless you relocate.

Consider the following factors when choosing a vet for your first dog:

  • Licensing: Most pet owners make the mistake of assuming that all veterinarians are licensed. Dont fall into this trap because you want the best care for your dog friend. Ask the vet for a practicing license. Also, ensure that other workers in the clinic have the right certification.
  • Continuing education: A good vet should regularly attend continuing education classes to keep up with the changing medical landscape.
  • Recommendations: Talk to your friends and family about their experiences with their vets. They will give you first-hand information that will help you make the right decision.
  • Cost and location: Get a vet who is less than an hour from you at most. This is because when an emergency occurs, time is of the essence. Also, choose a vet whose services are affordable.
  • The level of clinic cleanliness: Look around the clinic and pay attention to how clean it is. If the place is clingy and dirty, it’s time to move on because it might be the same case with their treatment rooms.
  • The attitude of the staff: How do the other employees treat you and your dog? If they are rude, then that should be a red flag. These are not the type of people to allow around your dog.
  • Comfortability: Are you comfortable with the vet to the extent that you can share everything about your dog with them? If not, keep looking. For better pet healthcare, you need a vet you trust with the history of your dog’s health.
  • Their approach to pet medication: A veterinarian does not only administer medication but also provides care for the entire well-being of the pet. Vets approach these two differently. Have a discussion with your potential vet to know their approach towards pet wellness and medication.

It’s easier to find a vet for a purebred dog than for a mixed breed. The reason is that with a purebred, you know the medical conditions to look out for. However, with a mixed breed, it’s harder to predict which health problems they might inherit from their parents.

Local breed clubs can also help you get the right vet for your purebred dog. Club members know the best vets for different dog breeds. The common dog breed clubs that can help include:

  • The American Kennel Club
  • The United Kennel Club
  • The Canadian Kennel club
  • Australian National Kennel Council

If you have a mixed-breed dog, look for a vet with experience in treating mixed-breed dogs. You can get referrals from other dog owners or your local animal shelter.

First Visit to the Veterinary

Like human babies, puppies need special attention and vaccinations for uninterrupted growth. The first vet visit is crucial and must never be missed.

You should take your puppy to the vet for her first check-up when she hits 8 to 12 weeks after birth. The vet will perform the following checks:

  • A general physical examination
  • Initial vaccinations
  • Weight and height measurement
  • Deworming treatment
  • Heartworm prevention medication prescription (if needed)
  • Fecal test to check for intestinal parasites 

After the check-up and vaccinations, you’ll agree on a worming schedule. The vet will also advise you on the best food for your puppy, based on her size, age, and breed.

Don’t forget to ask the vet any questions you have regarding the care and feeding of your puppy. Also, get the contact information of an emergency vet in case you need one.

Vaccinations Needed For Puppies

Puppies need a series of vaccinations to protect them from various diseases. The first set of shots is usually given when they are between six and eight weeks old.

The most common vaccinations for puppies are:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Parvo
  • Hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis 

Your vet will develop a vaccination schedule based on the health of your puppy and the diseases that are prevalent in your area. For example, if you live in an area with a lot of Lyme disease, your vet will recommend the Lyme disease vaccine.

The number of vaccinations puppies need depends on their age and health. Some puppies may require a booster shot after their initial vaccination series. Puppies that are at a higher risk for certain diseases (such as those with a weakened immune system) may need more vaccinations than others.

Most dog owners forget when it’s time to vaccinate their dogs.

The table below shows dog vaccination schedule to guide you.

Age of the PuppyRecommended VaccinationsOptional vaccines
6-8 weeksDistemper, parvovirusBordetella
10-12 weeksDHPP (vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus)Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease per lifestyle as recommended by a veterinarian
16-18 weeksRabies, DHPPInfluenza, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis, Bordetella per lifestyle
12-16 monthsRabies, DHPPLeptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
Every 1-2 yearsDHPPInfluenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease per lifestyle
Every 1-3 yearsRabies as required by lawNone
dog vaccination schedule

Spaying and Neutering Your Dog

Spaying refers to the surgical removal of ovaries or uterus with ovaries from a female dog to prevent her from reproducing (ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy).

Neutering is the surgical removal of testicles from a male dog to prevent him from reproducing (castration).

Most dog owners Spay and neuter their dogs because of the following benefits:

  • Prevent heat cycles in female dogs and eliminates yowling and crying
  • Reduce aggression in male dogs like roaming in search of a partner
  • Help with population control
  • Prevent cancers like mammary cancers in female dogs and testicular cancer in male

When to Spay or Neuter Your Dog

Your dog’s weight plays a crucial role in determining when to conduct neutering or spaying.

Small dog breeds that weigh under 45 pounds projected adult weight should be spayed before their first heat, usually 5-6 months. They should be neutered at 6 months.

Large dog breeds weighing more than 45 pounds projected adult body weight should be neutered at the end of their growth, usually 9 to 15 months. The decision to spay large-breed dogs is affected by many factors that must be discussed with a veterinarian. However, most dog parents spay their large dogs between 5 to 15 months.

Spaying/Neutering Cost

The cost of spaying or neutering your dog varies based on the location, clinic/vet, weight, dog breed, and species. Most dog owners pay from free to more than $500.

For a better idea of the ranges to expect in the United States of America, the table below shows examples of spay and neuter costs:

Vet/ClinicBasic Spaying PriceBasic Neutering Price
SPCA/Humane SocietyFreeFree
State voucher program$75$60
Spay, neuter, and vaccine clinic$150-$240 based on weight$135-$175 based on weight
Nonprofit veterinary clinic$50-$80 based on weight$50-$80 based on weight
Private animal hospital$320-$514 based on weight$267-$436 based on weight
Dog spaying and neutering costs

Recurring Health Treatments

Dog Check-ups

If you have a puppy, you must take her for check-ups every 3-4 weeks until she gets to 16 weeks old. It’s during this period that she will receive distemper-parvo and rabies vaccinations.

The vet may also recommend a kennel cough vaccination during the check-up visits.

After the initial 16 weeks, take her for check-ups every year or as recommended by the vet. Check-ups are important because they help to detect health problems early before they become serious.

During the check-up, the vet will:

  • Check your dog’s weight and overall condition
  • Examine her teeth and gums
  • Listen to her heart and lungs
  • Check her eyes, ears, and nose
  • Feel her lymph nodes and abdomen
  • Examine her joints and legs
  • Give her a routine deworming if needed
  • Administer any vaccinations that are due
  • Update her records

Common Breed Health Issues

There are some health conditions associated with certain dog breeds. Usually, these issues show up later in a dog’s life.

Neurological disorders are common in dachshunds. This is because this breed has weak backs. If you own a dachshund breed, ensure to exercise her regularly as this is the best natural way to prevent the condition.

Breeds like the Golden Retriever,  Bernese mountain dog, Bouvier des Flandres, boxer, and Scottish terrier are prone to cancers. Owning one of these breeds is not a bad idea. However, take them for lump and bump checks regularly.

Is Pet Insurance Right for Your New Dog?

Like humans, dogs experience unexpected medical emergencies. These events may cost you a lot of money, which might strain your finances.

Pet insurance is designed to help dog parents with the high costs of veterinary care. The monthly premiums give you peace of mind knowing that you’re financially prepared for anything that comes up.

How do you know if pet insurance is right for your new dog?

Consider the following:

  • Whether you have adequate savings to save your dog’s life in case of an emergency. Keep in mind that some dog treatments cost thousands of dollars.
  • Your dog’s risk level. If your new dog is an outsider who socializes with many dogs, she’s at a higher risk of contracting diseases and you may need pet insurance.
  • Coverage and deductibles. Some policies have annual limits while others don’t. Others cover only certain conditions while some exclude pre-existing conditions. Research on this to find one that fits your needs.

How to Handle Dog Emergencies

At some point, you’ll need to deal with an emergency issue with your new dog. The most common dog emergencies include:

  • Hit by a car
  • Ingesting poison
  • Choking
  • Bleeding heavily
  • Having a seizure 

When such things happen, don’t panic, stay calm, and take the following steps:

  • Contact your vet immediately. Inform them about the situation so that they stay prepared for you and your pup.
  • If your new dog is bleeding, put a clean cloth on the wound and apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
  • If your dog is choking, check if there’s anything blocking her airway. If there is, try to remove it gently. If you can’t, take her to the vet immediately.
  • Take care of your own emotional needs. After an emergency, you’ll be shaken up. It’s okay to take some time to calm down before attending to your new dog.

Feeding Your New Dog

Keeping a dog
woman feeding a dog

Selecting the right dog diet for your puppy is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a pet parent.

You need to ensure that the diet you select meets all her nutritional needs.

Puppies have different nutritional requirements from adult dogs and senior dogs. For instance, they need more calories and fat than fully grown dogs because they’re still growing.

During weaning, which begins between 3-4 weeks, your puppy needs puppy-formulated pet food. They also need a diet with 25-30% proteins.

Do not overfeed your puppy as this might cause her to become obese, which predisposes her to health conditions such as diabetes.

Because of the high metabolic rate in small dog breeds, they need to eat 3-4 times a day.

Different Dog Food Brands

Canned (wet food): Wet food is a great option, especially for fussy eaters. It’s also easy to portion and doesn’t spoil quickly. A rule of thumb is to look for a label that says, “100% nutritionally complete” or “Complete and balanced” as these have been approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

  • Dry food: Dry food is a convenient option as it can be stored for long periods. It’s also less messy than canned food. Such food strengthens a dog’s teeth by removing the tartar.
  • Semi-moist: This refers to dog’s meals made mostly from meat. It’s filled with preservatives, colorings, and artificial flavors. Therefore, it has less nutritional value for the dog and should only be used as an occasional treat.
  • Raw: It’s made up of bones, raw meat, vegetables, and organs. It’s a nutritious option but can be expensive. It might also be dangerous if not prepared correctly as it can contain harmful bacteria.
  • Home-cooked: Home-cooked meals are a great option as you’re in control of the ingredients. However, they can be time-consuming to prepare.
  • Vet diet: This is a diet that’s formulated by veterinarians to address specific health issues in dogs.

Food to Avoid

Some foods can be toxic and dangerous for your dogs even though they’re healthy for human beings. Make sure your new pooch never gets her paws on the following foods:

Eggs, coffee, alcohol, avocado, caffeine, chocolate, citrus, milk and dairy, nuts, Chives, onion, garlic, yeast dough, Xylitol. 

How Often Should You Feed Your New Dog?

The general rule of thumb is to feed puppies three to four times a day and adult dogs, twice daily.

You can, however, adjust the feeding schedule based on your dog’s age, activity level, and breed.

For instance, working dogs and sporting dogs need more frequent meals to help them stay energized throughout the day.

On the other hand, senior dogs are usually fed once or twice a day as they have a slower metabolism and tend to be less active.

Exercising Your New Dog

Dog exercises are crucial. However, you must be careful not to go overboard with exercise. Too much exercise can lead to bone, hip, and joint problems.

A rule of thumb is to walk your puppy for 5 minutes, twice a day for every month of age. Therefore, if you have a 2-month-old puppy, you’ll need to walk it for 10 minutes twice a day.

Having a regular exercise schedule will not only help to keep your pup healthy but will also strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Do not exercise your new dog within an hour before or after meals. Take this into account when making your dog’s exercise schedule.

Here are some of the best exercises for dogs:

  • Running: This is a great cardio workout for dogs.
  • Walking: A low-impact exercise that’s perfect for all dogs, especially senior dogs.
  • Swimming: An excellent full-body workout for dogs. It’s also perfect for hot days as it helps to keep your dog cool.
  • Hiking: A great way to explore nature with your new dog. It strengthens the dog’s bones and opens up their chests.
  • Fetching Games: A fun way to exercise your dog’s body and mind by making them run and think at the same time.

Dog Exercise Schedule Based on Age

Healthy Puppy Exercise Schedule

All-day: Obedience training, walk, socialization, play, scampering, rollicking, cavorting, and hopping. Remember to incorporate lots of napping between these activities to prevent dog burnout.

Healthy Adult Dog Exercise Schedule

  • Morning: Runnin, walking, a training session then a playtime followed by a food puzzle dog toy.
  • Mid-day: Playtime, walking, mental exercises like a dog treat hunt and hide and seek.
  • Evening: Walking and running then playtime. Wrap this up with mental exercises.

Expert Tip: Make the evening exercises longer as this is when your new dog has the most energy. Longer exercises also prepared the dog for bedtime so they can sleep better at night.

Considerations and Hazards to Keep in Mind When Exercising Your Dog

  • Paw injuries: Ice and ice melt salts in winter can lead to cracks and cuts in your dog’s paw pad. Avoid very icy areas and pavements with ice melt during the training. Be sure to wipe your dog’s paws after a walk and check for any cuts or cracks and take the necessary action.
  • Hot weather: Avoid exercising your dog in hot weather as they can easily overheat and develop heatstroke. The best time to walk your dog is in the cooler hours of the morning or evening.
  • Frostbite: Dogs are at risk of frostbite on their extremities like ears, paws, and tails during very cold conditions. If you notice that the temperature is below freezing point, reduce the time your dog stays outside.
  • Hypothermia: All dogs can suffer from hypothermia in very cold conditions. Smaller dogs, senior dogs, and dogs with short coats are at a higher risk. If you notice your dog is shivering, has pale gums, or seems lethargic, take them inside immediately and warm them up gradually.
  • Dogs who are overweight: Dogs who are carrying around extra weight need to be careful when starting an exercise routine. Start with shorter walks and gradually increase the distance and time as your dog gets used to it.
  • Dogs with health conditions: Dogs with health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, etc., need to be careful when starting an exercise routine. Check with your veterinarian before starting any new exercise routine.
  • Hot pavement: The pavement can get very hot during summer, making it painful for your dog to walk on. Put your hand on the pavement for a few seconds to check the temperature. If it’s too hot to keep your hand on, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. Walk them on the grass instead or wait until the evening when the pavement has cooled down.

Bathing and Grooming Your Dog

It’s recommended to bathe your dog every three months. However, you can bathe your pooch more often depending on the weather where you live and if the dog spends most of her time playing outdoors with other dogs.

Use a mild shampoo that is designed for dogs and avoid getting water in their ears. Also, be sure to rinse all the soap out of their fur.

After bathing, use a towel to dry your dog off as much as possible then allow them to air dry the rest of the way.

While grooming your dog, check their nails and trim them if necessary. You can do this yourself or take them to a groomer. Also, check their ears and clean them if needed.

Anal glands should be checked and expressed monthly.

Grooming your dog gives you an opportunity to check for fleas. Dogs with longer hairs require daily brushing to prevent mats from forming.

Training Your Dog at Home

When it comes to house training your new fur baby, there are a few things you’ll need to take into account.

The first is obedience training. This will be vital in teaching your dog basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. Not only will this make your life easier, but it could also save your dog’s life one day. Most dog owners use this tactic to get their dogs used to them.

Obedience training can be done at home or by enrolling in a class. If you decide to do it at home, use dog training books as a guide to get you started. Some of the excellent dog training books used by new dog owners are:

  • Week by Week puppy training
  • Puppy training for kids
  • Brain games for dogs
  • 101 dog tricks

The second thing you’ll need to take into account is socialization. This is extremely important, especially for puppies. It entails exposing your dog to different people, places, and situations so they can learn to cope with them.

Some ways to socialize your dog are:

  • Take them for walks in different neighborhoods
  • Visit friends and family members’ houses
  • Enroll in a puppy class or doggy daycare
  • Take them to the park

Thirdly, you’ll need to housetrain your dog. This will take patience and consistency on your part, but it’s important to get started as soon as possible. There are a few methods you can use, such as crate training, paper training, or using an indoor potty area.

The common dog training methods in use today include:

  • Koehler method: This is the oldest dog training method that has been in existence for more than 65 years. The method is based on the fact that a dog uses its right to choose its actions. Based on this method, a dog’s learned behavior is influenced by the anticipation of a reward.
  • Cesar Millan method: This is a more recent dog training method that has become popular in the past few years. The method uses techniques based on the pack leader’s authority over the followers.
  • Operant conditioning: This is learning that occurs as a consequence of the consequences that follow an animal’s behaviors. For instance, if a dog sits when asked and is given a treat, the dog is likely to repeat the behavior of sitting when asked again.
  • Clicker training: This method uses a small hand-held device called a clicker to mark the desired behavior. The clicker makes a unique sound that helps the dog associate it with positive reinforcement, such as a treat.
  • Pavlovian conditioning: This method is based on the work of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. In his experiments, he found that dogs could be conditioned to respond to a particular stimulus, such as the sound of a bell, by pairing it with food.

Dealing With Dog Separation Anxiety

Leaving your dog home alone can be tough, especially if she suffers from separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety tend to bark excessively, have accidents in the house, and destroy things when left alone.

Here are some tips on how to deal with dog separation anxiety:

  • Get her used to being away from you: Start by leaving her alone for short periods of time and gradually increase the amount of time you’re gone.
  • Create a safe space: Make sure she has a comfortable place to stay while you’re gone, such as a crate or dog bed. This will be her “safe space” where she can go to relax.
  • Provide mental stimulation: Dogs with separation anxiety often get bored when left alone. To keep her mind occupied, give her puzzle toys filled with treats or Kongs stuffed with peanut butter.
  • Exercise before you leave: A tired dog is a calm dog. Be sure to walk or play with her before you leave so she can release all that pent-up energy.

Puppy Proofing your Home and Garden

Puppy proofing your home and garden is important to keep your pup safe. Dogs are curious creatures and will put their noses (and sometimes mouths) into anything they can. This can lead to them ingesting harmful chemicals or plants, or getting injured by electrical cords or sharp objects.

Your dog going outdoors to play with other dogs may also contract illnesses in the process.

Here are some tips on how to puppy proof your home and garden:

  • Keep household cleaners, chemicals, and medications out of reach.
  • Put away small objects that your pup could choke on.
  • Block off any areas that are off-limits, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Cover electrical cords with tape or cord covers.
  • Keep sharp objects out of reach, such as knives and scissors.
  • Remove any poisonous plants like crocus, azalea, kalanchoe, and daffodils from your garden.
  • Use fence rollers, rocks and boulders, and dog gates to contain your pet inside your compound.

Traveling With Your Dog

The idea of leaving your dog when you go on vacation is a tough one. But with proper planning, traveling with your dog will be a fun and stress-free experience. The key factor is to be able to verify dog ownership and carry her safely. 

The following is a checklist for traveling with your dog:

Have the Right Kennel or Crate

You’ll need the right traveling container if you’re traveling far by car or airplane. Here is a guide on how to prepare your pet before booking a plane.

The right crate or kennel must:

  • Have enough space for your dog to turn around while standing and be able to lie naturally.
  • Include bedding like a mat, towel, or blanket.
  • Have proper ventilation on at least two sides.
  • Be escape-proof and sturdy enough to withstand turbulence.
  • Have a leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material.

Adhere to the Laws of Traveling with Dogs

Every airline has different rules and regulations when it comes to traveling with dogs. Make sure you’re familiar with the laws of the airline you’re flying with before booking your ticket.

The following are general guidelines for traveling with dogs by airplane:

  • Your new puppy must be at least eight weeks old and has been weaned for at least five days.
  • Your dog must have a valid health certificate.
  • Your dog must be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Verification of dog ownership may also be needed
  • Your dog must be able to fit comfortably in a kennel that meets the requirements of the airline.
  • Check with your hotel or rental property before booking to make sure they allow pets.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your first dog can be a daunting task, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience. By following the tips in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to being a responsible and loving dog owner.

Feed your dog the right diet, exercise her, and take her for regular health check-ups.

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