Sometimes dog enthusiasts forget that there are people out there that never have lived with a dog–and all dog owners have to start somewhere. Even if a new owner was raised with dogs, it’s very different being solely responsible for one. Here are the five most crucial things for a new dog owner to remember.
Research, research, research
All too often dogs are brought to the shelter because people didn’t know what they were getting into. German Shepherd puppies are so little and cute and fluffy… for about six months. Then they grow, FAST. Irish Setters are stunning to look at, but need tons of exercise or they will become destructive as a result. Perspective dog owners should do their homework carefully. Look at the activity level of the household and find a breed that will fit in best with the lifestyle of the home.
Decide on training methods
Is there more than one person in the house? There should be an agreement on training methods. Nothing confuses a dog more that having seven different people giving seven different signals and seven different words for the sit cue. Make a priority list of training, what is most important to learn first, second, etc. Decide where the dog will go to the bathroom. That last one may sound silly, but it is important to determine now so that everyone is on the same page and heading out the same door.
Safe house, happy pup
No matter what age the dog is, all dogs love to explore and most will explore with their noses and mouths. Pin down stray wires with a cover specifically made to go over wires. Lock kitchen cabinets to keep the dog away from cleaners. Clean out garbage cans, reduce the temptation of knocking over the can, see what was for dinner. Use common sense. Dog proofing a house is very similar to baby proofing a house. If it’s harmful to a baby, it’ll be harmful to a dog.
Find a Veterinarian
This one is a bit tough to find the best fit for the family. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials. Is there personality on par with what is needed? Is it a good fit?
Falling in love
It is so easy to get swayed by the huge eyes, the wagging tail, and the all encompassing eagerness of affection pouring out of this furball. It’s okay to take a moment. This is a 10 to 15 year commitment you’re dealing with. A person is permitted a minor pause. Shelters allow dogs to be “put on hold” for this very reason. Go home, picture the dog in the house, imagine the fit. Sleep on it and see how it feels in the morning.
While there are more extensive lists out there, the one thing above all else a new dog owner needs to remember… trust the instincts! If something feels right, then do it!