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New Dog Owner Guide: What First-Time Dog Owners Need to Know

New Dog Owner Guide: What First-Time Dog Owners Need to Know

Are you the new, proud owner of a four-legged family member? Being a first-time dog owner can be intimidating if you’ve never owned a pet before, but no need to fear! By reading our tips for first-time dog owners, you’ll feel more confident about your new canine companion and be well on your way to being the best dog parent out there. From house training to dog food, here’s what first-time dog owners need to know: 

  1. Limit how much of your home your dog can access when your first bring them home.

Before your dog comes home, be sure to designate which areas of your house will be accessible for your pup. Depending on the temperament of your new dog, giving them full access to your home could result in accidents or preventable damage because they will not know what is theirs and what is yours. Baby gates are a great way to restrict access to specific rooms. 

Dogs are den animals and typically enjoy being in a comfortable crate while their owner is away. Crating your dog will reduce the anxiety of needing to police and protect your entire home. Once you get home, let your dog outside to go to the bathroom then give a small treat for their accomplishments. We do not recommend feeding your dog in their crate. 

  1. Assume your pup is not housetrained.

Not all dogs or dog breeds will know that your home is a “no potty zone.” This is incredibly true for puppies, but can also apply to adult dogs that are anxious when being introduced to new environments. Limiting access to your home will help prevent scattered accidents, but confining your pup to a crate or exercise pen will ensure any accidents are contained when you are not at home to supervise. 

  1. Provide your dog with a comfortable spot to sleep.

Setting up a sleeping spot before your dog comes home is a great way to ensure they have a safe space of their own to get some shut eye — especially if you don’t want your dog on your bed or furniture. Preparing a comfy dog bed or a spacious crate are two great ways to ensure they have a confined, relaxing space to sleep. Allowing a dog to sleep in your bed can complicate behavioral management; some dogs will act out dominance over the owner due to sleeping arrangements. 

  1. Make a routine and stick to it.

Change can be stressful for dogs of all ages. To help your dog adjust to life in your home and reinforce good behavior, be sure to come up with a daily routine for your dog. It doesn’t matter what your routine looks like, as long as you and your dog are happy. We recommend including meals, walks, independent or confined playtime, and socialization with you and other members of the home into your daily routine to help with house training and bonding. 

  1. Remember to be patient.

It takes time to adjust to dog ownership. It may take a few months (or longer) for both you and your new dog to feel fully comfortable around each other. If you’re noticing behavioral issues up front, give your pet some time. Most will pass once your dog settles in and gets used to your routine. Give your pup — and yourself — plenty of grace in the first few weeks while you’re both learning. 

Bringing your pet home for the first time is a memorable experience but can come with some challenges. Below are some common hurdles first-time pet owners may encounter and how to overcome them. 

What if my dog won’t eat? 

Change can cause dogs to stop eating. Depending on the type of dog, familiar foods may help. With others, having a variety of food can make eating easier. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about what kind of food is right for your dog’s unique nutritional needs. Puzzle toys and food toppers may entice your dog to eat if traditional options aren’t working. 

What if behavioral issues continue after a few months? 

Most behavioral problems can be dealt with by hiring expert help. As soon as you feel concerned about your dog’s behavior, call a professional dog trainer or certified dog behavior consultant. Some fixes may be as simple as hiring a dog walker or taking your pup to doggie daycare while you’re at work, but some solutions may require a bit more training or time. Most veterinarians and their staff enjoy counseling owners on behavioral issues. Be sure to call your local vet for continued information. 

Congrats on your new best friend! 

Becoming a pet owner has the potential to drastically enhance your life. While adjusting can be overwhelming, having a pet is very fulfilling. A dog can provide you with the undying loyalty, unconditional love and constant companionship you deserve. Who knows, you may end up springing for a few more once you’ve mastered the first! 

By referencing our first-time dog owner guide, you can set yourself up on the best path for success! At Priority Boarding & Daycare, we have plenty of experience working with dogs and providing premier pet care to Hoosier pets throughout the Greater Indianapolis area. If you ever find yourself needing a boarding facility or doggy daycare service in the future, be sure to check us out! We’d love to provide your new pup with the same love and care they get at home while you’re at work or traveling.