10 things you need to know about being a dog parent for the first time
First of all, congratulations on making the decision to add a dog to your family! 😊 Taking your first dog home is probably one of the most exciting moments. You’ve finally got that furry best friend and partner in crime, and you’re also giving a great pup a wonderful home.
However, becoming a dog parent is a pretty big commitment that comes with many responsibilities. There is probably a lot more that you need to do than you first anticipated, to provide for your furry baby. No doubt you’ve already bought your new pup’s bed and bowls, as well as a new leash and collar or some shiny new toys. But you also need to look at all the ways your new four-legged friend will impact your home and life and prepare ahead of time. 🐶
Whether you’re planning to bring home a puppy or an adult dog, here's what first-time dog parents need to know about caring for dogs:
1. Choose the right vet
2. Get the right dog food
3. Prepare a place for your dog to sleep
Set up a place for the newest member of the family to sleep well in advance. Even dogs need a place to relax and decompress. It’s generally best to start off with a confined space (like a dog crate, or a place blocked by a baby gate) where you can place a cozy dog bed for them to rest.
4. Find a great house-training method
Another very important thing for you to do is to house train your new puppy (and sometimes even older dogs) and get them to understand some basic commands. There are lots of guides you can follow, like this one from Pet MD and one from The Humane Society. It’s very important that you choose one method and stick to it, to avoid confusing your furry baby. And if the situation turns out to be extremely challenging (give it some time though), you can also look into getting some help from a professional trainer.
5. Master the basics of dog care
Now that you’re a proud dog-parent, you should know how to take care of your new four-legged baby. Find out which grooming methods are best for their breed, and if your vet has any specific recommendations. Another important part of caring for your dog is to start introducing your dog to new people and animals so that they know how to socialize correctly.
6. Decide how much of your home your dog can access
As much as you love your new baby, there may be some parts of your house you don’t want them to go to, maybe your bedroom or the kitchen, or rooms with expensive items that might get damaged. However well behaved a dog may be, they may still like to chew on things, steal socks or rip up papers especially when they are teething. So, remember to block off such areas with gates, pens, and doors that fully close!
7. Invest in good cleaning supplies
Dogs don’t stay clean for very long! They might walk through puddles and then track the dirt across your freshly cleaned floor or roll around in some mud before jumping onto your sofa, and then there is also house-training mishaps and fur shedding to think about. It’s best to just accept all this early on and just go out and buy some big bags of cleaning supplies 😊
8. Set up a routine (and stick to it!)
Moving to a new place can be quite unsettling for a dog, so to help them adjust, try to come up with a daily routine. For example, you could start the day with a walk and breakfast, and then let your dog spend some time in their own confined area while you work. Then go for an afternoon walk, some time hanging out in the living room, dinner, and another walk. It really doesn’t matter what your own routine looks like as long as you can realistically follow it regularly to help your dog settle in.
9. Prepare for a few health problems
We really hope your dog will not encounter any health problems or medical emergencies, but you should take the necessary steps to be ready, in case something does happen. This might mean setting aside some funds or better, investing in a pet insurance policy which will pretty much be your helping hand (financially speaking 😀) during any such situations. To learn more about what a pet insurance even is, and how it works, read our pet insurance guide here.
10. Be patient
Remember that you and your dog are new to each other, and like any other relationship - it will take some time to adjust. By staying calm and being patient, you can help them become more comfortable with both you and your home.
It’s also important to remember that a puppy is quite different from an adult dog, and like a new baby, they will need a lot more time and care. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. And whatever might be stressing you out now, in most cases, things will get better once your dog settles in.
Becoming a pet-parent is fun and exciting, but it is also a big responsibility. This furry baby will rely on you to provide care, nutrition, entertainment, and love for the rest of its life. And, although there’s a lot of work that goes into being a pet parent, the joy of being a pet parent is indescribable! If you have taken all the necessary steps to make them comfortable and happy, they will become a part of your family in no time!