5 Tips For New Dog Owners
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on November 2, 2017
Posted in Behavior Management
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Bringing a dog into your life is not easy. Your new family member might have trouble with something that comes naturally to other dogs, or display personality traits you didn’t see coming. It’s impossible to predict every challenge that awaits but dedicated preparation can significantly increase the likelihood of your dog leading a happy and healthy life.
Here are 5 tips for new dog owners
1. Get Ready To Walk
New dog owners should be prepared to do a lot of walking outside for two reasons. The first is for the sake of housebreaking, which can be very time-consuming. New dogs, especially puppies, should probably be taken out approximately six times a day to get them on a regular schedule and enforce the fact that outside is the only place where it’s okay to do their business.
The second reason is supported by the rise of the obesity epidemic, which is bolstered by the lack of exercise most dogs receive from their already-tired owners. Your dog’s chances of developing diseases will decrease dramatically if you are a constant source of activity, regardless of how old your dog gets.
2. Do Not Confuse Treats With “Love”
Another major contributor to the obesity is the widespread notion that treats = love. It is undeniably difficult to resist your dog begging for a treat or table scraps but giving in each time will do far more harm than good in the long run. It’s also much harder to discipline your pet when they don’t understand the concept of earning rewards.
3. Unconditional Love Is Not Free
Owning a pet is not cheap but worth every penny. According to Forbes, your first year with your new dog will cost you between $511 and $6,600, and that doesn’t include trips to the vet. What that does include is toys, crates, leashes, dog beds and high quality food. You might want to cut back on some expenses during your dog’s first year in your home, since you never want to have to sacrifice a pet’s well-being due to limited funds.
4. Dog-Proof Your Home
Separation anxiety is extremely common in dogs, even those that are otherwise completely calm. This is why all new dog owners are recommended to dog-proof their homes in anticipation of eventually leaving their pets alone when they leave for the day. Thankfully, there are many helpful online guides available for preventing anxious pets from causing damage to your home or themselves.
5. Be Consistent
Consistency refers to maintaining a set of rules when it comes to disciplining and rewarding your dog. These two actions will not only teach your dog the difference between right and wrong, but also get him or her to respect your wishes. You must reward your dog with attention whenever a good behavior is exhibited and do the opposite in the event of negative behavior. If only it wasn’t so hard to stop yourself from petting and hugging your dog every minute of every day.
Should You Have Any Questions…
Arguably the most important piece of advice for new dog owners is to never, ever, hesitate to contact your vet if you have a question about your dog’s health. With so much information at our fingertips, it’s tempting to self-diagnose a potential health problem or seek the online community for answers. But these decisions can allow preventable diseases to worsen, sometimes because the dog did not undergo crucial testing when symptoms first arose. Your vet will not find your concern to be annoying or unnecessary. This is the only person you should be speaking to when your dog is exhibiting unusual behavior of any kind.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan