Bringing Home Fido: A Guide for New Pet Owners
Getting your first pet as an adult is almost as scary as it is fun. What if your new dog isn’t a good fit? What if he doesn’t like you, or pet care is too hard? It’s normal to be nervous about bringing a new family member home, but you shouldn’t let it stop you. Dog ownership is rewarding and fun, and with a little preparation it’s not too hard either.
Before you adopt, read this guide about bringing home the perfect pup for your family.
Finding the Right Pet
Before you start looking at photographs of adoptable dogs, think about the kind of pet you want. Here are the major factors you need to consider:
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Space: How big is your house and yard? Some dog breeds need yard space for exercise, and big dogs are hard to manage in a small home.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Activity level: Don’t expect a new pet to change longstanding habits; instead, choose a pet whose exercise needs fit your lifestyle. Small dogs, senior dogs, and non-working breeds are more suited for a laid-back home.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Activity type: Some dogs love to run, others live for fetch, and some are happiest with a leisurely walk. Consider whether you want a partner for long hikes in the mountains, short runs around the city, playing in the backyard, or another activity.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Children: If you have or plan to have children, choose a kid-friendly dog. You can even take your children with you to the adoption site or breeder to get an idea of how the dog will interact.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Allergies: Are any household members allergic to pet dander? If so, a hypoallergenic breed will be the right choice.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Budget: Some dogs cost more than others, whether in food or veterinary expenses. Large dogs, senior dogs, flat-faced dogs, and non vaccinated or unaltered dogs tend to be more expensive. It’s also wise to consider the breed before taking the plunge. Some breeds, particularly certain purebreds, are prone to specific health issues, which could lead to unforeseen expenses.
In addition, think about whether you want to purchase or adopt. Adopting is a wonderful, affordable way to add a dog to your home and save a life at the same time. However, buying from a responsible breeder can be the right choice, especially for families seeking a working dog.
Bringing a New Dog Home
Once you’ve found the perfect dog, it’s time to get ready to bring him home. Start by purchasing all the necessary supplies. You’ll need:
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Collar with ID and leash.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Food and water bowls.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Crate or carrier.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Dog bed.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Food and treats.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Toys.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Brush, nail clippers, and other grooming supplies.
Prepare your home with some puppy-proofing. Place chemical cleaners behind childproof latches or on high shelves. Replace open trash cans with lidded ones. Move anything that can be chewed on or choked on out of reach, including electrical cords. Your dog could be a chewer or have separation anxiety, and it’s important to make his environment safe.
Once the home is ready, make sure the family is too. Talk to kids about how to behave around dogs and assign pet care tasks like feeding, walking, and scooping poop.
Do take into special consideration the type of dog food you plan to buy. Just like you don’t eat Twinkies for breakfast, you don’t want your dog to eat food that’s junk. You want food that’s high in protein, nutrients, and other factors that are essential to your dog’s health and well-being. It’s wise to do some research or talk to someone at a local pet shop to get an idea of what type of food will be best for your new dog.
Training, Bonding, and Managing Pet Care
Have a dog training plan in place ahead of time. Talk to the animal shelter or breeder to get an idea of what training your dog already has. If you’ll need to house train, have a schedule in place and make sure someone is available for frequent bathroom breaks. If training becomes too difficult for you and your family, consider hiring a trainer or looking into obedience lessons. There are plenty of professionals out there who want to help dogs and families find their groove.
In fact, it’s smart to take time off work after adopting a dog regardless of his training level. Time together provides opportunity to bond with your new dog and eases his anxiety about being in a new, strange place.
The work (and fun!) doesn’t stop once your new dog is settled in. Make sure you have a plan in place for these pet care musts:
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Grooming: Schedule routine pet care tasks like brushing, bathing, nail trimming, and medicating for fleas, ticks, and heartworm.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Training: Make a training plan to develop and maintain your dog’s skills so he’s a canine good citizen.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Exercise: Commit to a daily exercise regimen to keep your dog healthy, happy, and well-behaved. Aim for two walks and one intense play session each day. Hiring a dog walker is an easy way to make sure your dog’s exercise needs are met without straining your busy schedule.
With these tips, you’re ready to bring home your new canine friend and enjoy years of companionship, loyalty, and fun.
Jessica Brody and email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Image via Unsplash