So, you’ve adopted yourself a new four-legged, furry family member? First and foremost, congratulations! Secondly, I hope that you are prepared for what’s to come. Don’t get me wrong, dog ownership is awesome, but it also requires wholehearted commitment as well as quite a bit of work. Aside from locating the perfect pet, you will also need to make sure that you have all of the tools to care for your new friend. Being a pet owner, a dog owner, in particular, is very much a responsibility, and it isn’t always easy, but it also happens to be one of the most rewarding things that you will ever do. Not to fret, by simply following our guide on what you need as a new dog owner, you will be an absolute pro in no time.
There are certain things that you are going to need as soon as you bring your new pup home. Once you have decided on a certain dog, your next step should be to acquire all of his necessities.
Leash (via Amazon): This one is quite obvious, however, an appropriate, decent quality leash is important. Be sure to get one that is appropriate for the size of the dog (small, medium, large).
Collar (via Amazon): Your pooch is going to need a collar. It should be made of strong but comfortable material and must be the correct size to avoid injuries.
Harness: There are two different harnesses you will likely need to have (or one that is a combination of the two). One of them is an everyday walking harness (via Amazon). This will be especially handy for larger breeds and those who tend to pull, which could result in injury. The other harness is going to be a car seat harness (via Amazon). These are fully adaptable to any make/model of the vehicle and will keep your furbaby safe in the event of an accident.
Bedding: A dog bed (via Amazon) suitable for your breed of dog, as well as bedding, is necessary. Sometimes a blanket or sweatshirt with your scent can be placed with the bedding to help the little guy (or gal) feel more secure and comfortable.
Designated Area/Room: Your new friend is going to be anxious and likely a bit nervous – which is to be expected, being that he is in new surroundings. Providing him with an area or room in the house that is all his own, will help with the transition. It should be quiet, not too bright, and equipped with all of his essentials – food, water, toys, bed, etc.
Appropriate Toys: A nice variety of puppy or dog safe toys should be placed in his designated area as well. Be sure that there is nothing that the dog can choke on.
Feeding Dishes & Watering Bowls: As some plastic feeding dishes can cause chin acne on some dogs, metal dishes are recommended. If yours is a taller breed, consider getting a pet dish stand (via Amazon) to avoid them straining their neck or back.
First Aid: Dogs will sometimes have accidents and you should be prepared to provide at least basic treatment until you can get him to the veterinarian’s office. Gauze, ointment, adhesive tape, scissors, and tweezers just to name a few, should be included in your doggy first aid kit. It is also fairly inexpensive to buy a kit that is already fully stocked.
Things to Consider Before Making a Commitment:
A dog can live to be 16 years of age, or sometimes, even older! Adopting or rescuing a dog is not a decision that should ever be made lightly. Dog ownership is a lifelong commitment, or, at least it should be. Dogs that are rehomed are much more likely to develop certain attachment and behavior issues, which in some cases can lead to aggression. The breed of your potential dog should also be taken into consideration. Do your research, as breed characteristics, and traits can vary greatly. For instance, certain dogs are better being home alone while you are at work while others will develop serious issues due to separation anxiety. Size can also be a factor as many larger breeds need more space and room to run, so if you are in a small apartment without a yard, these breeds might not be the best choice. 🐶
Before You Bring Him Home:
Now that you have chosen your new furry family member, it is time to get everything set up, ready, and completely prepared for his arrival. Not unlike bringing a human baby home, the house needs to be ‘puppy-proofed’ before he gets there. Ensure everything is safe including anything that he could choke on or things that could injure him, such as cords and wires that might be accessible. You should also have already purchased his necessities (food, crate, leash, collar, etc). For the time being, these should all be placed in a safe area of the home, which will be his safe space until he gets familiarized with his new home. Ideally, you will have already selected a veterinarian, and have set an initial appointment. Your new dog should see the veterinarian within the first two weeks, just for an initial examination/medical plan.
For When Your New Friend Comes Home:
This is a little bit of a scary, albeit also exciting time. 🤪 This is especially so for your new pooch. He is in unfamiliar surroundings, with people he does not know very well, if at all, and he likely has just been removed from all that he has ever known. Any time you bring a new pet in the household, there is going to be an adjustment period. For the first week or so, designate a calm, quiet, not too bright, area of your home and make it his ‘safe space’. This will be where he can be stationed while getting acquainted with his new home and its brand new scents as well as his sanctuary that he can retreat to if feeling fearful or uncomfortable. As time goes on, and he gets used to his new fur-ever home, he should gradually start to feel more comfortable exploring the entirety of his new house.
The Importance Of:
- Microchipping: Microchipping should be done as soon as possible. This might be the only way to identify or claim ownership if your dog becomes lost or is stolen.
- Having a Veterinarian: Having a set veterinarian that your pooch is comfortable is important.
- Vaccinations: Vaccinations, contrary to what some believe, are extremely important. Your veterinarian will decide which ones are necessary and that will depend on age, health, and environment. Many illnesses that could be prevented by vaccination, could end up being fatal if your dog contracts it.
- Spaying/Neutering: Millions of unwanted pets sit in shelters waiting for their forever homes – many of them will never find one. There are far too many animals that need a home to bring any more into it. Please get your pooch spayed or neutered. Not only will it prevent unwanted pregnancies, but can also reduce the risks of certain serious medical conditions such as pyometra and testicular cancer.
Do’s and Don’ts:
- Do consider adopting or rescuing, over shopping. Supporting your local rescues/shelters are the way to go. Too many pets are homeless.
- Don’t make any rash decisions. It can be easy to fall in love with a dog but you should always do your research. Make sure that it will be a good fit.
- Do train your new dog correctly. Even if that means calling in an expert or attending obedience classes.
- Don’t scream, yell, or hit. Punishment does not, and should not, equal fear. It does absolutely no good and will only damage the bond between pet and owner.
- Do consider getting a sibling for your new dog, especially if you have to be away from home for an extended period of time. This will help to keep him entertained while you are away.
- Don’t keep your dog in his kennel or crate for more than a few hours. It can cause behavior issues as well as health problems including the spine, hip, and elbow issues. If you must be away from home, someone should be available to let your dog out during the day.
Being a new dog owner does not mean that you should know absolutely all there is to know about caring for your new four-legged family member, it is going to be a learning curve, that is normal – and no one expects you to be perfect, least of all Fido. He is happy so long as he has food in his belly, a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over his head, and plenty of kisses and snuggles. Because, in reality, you are not simply getting a dog – you are acquiring a best friend, protector, and a lifetime of unconditional love. In return, all you need to do is provide a safe, happy, and loving home. Just remember, the most important thing you need to have as a new dog owner is a large heart with oodles of love to give. 🐕