Owning a dog for the first time, like becoming a parent, is one of those life experiences that can be impossible to fully prepare for — new lessons will pop up. Dog ownership is such a complex and new experience, and it’s hardly without its challenges. It might be that you accidentally make a mistake without meaning to, like allowing your puppy to run up and down the stairs not knowing this can hurt the development of its joints. For this reason, I’m sharing lessons for first-time dog owners.
Dogs thrive on routine
Dogs thrive on routine and consistency. It’s important to establish clear rules and boundaries from the beginning and stick to them. This includes things like where your dog is allowed to go in the house, how they should behave on walks, and when and where you’ll feed them. They want to keep to this cycle and can have trouble if you stray from routine too often, such as if you regularly pull all-nighters, walk them on and off without a consistent schedule, or don’t give them the kind of attention they need from day to day. Provide them with the uniform experience they can feel safe and depend on. After all, they’re just part of your world, but you’re all of theirs.
The training period never ends
It’s easy to think that 20 hours of training or so with a local dog trainer will be enough to have your new pet obey your commands and avoid a scene in public. While this service is important to use and can do a world of good for your dog, it’s also important to remember that the training process never really ends. You need to continually reinforce the lessons you wish for them to learn.
So for instance, show them that begging for scraps at the family dinner table is not acceptable, and tell your children to avoid feeding them from the plate to reinforce this lesson over the course of their life.
Avoid toxic foods
While many people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, there are other human foods that can also be dangerous, such as grapes, onions and avocado. Keep these foods out of your dog’s reach and be aware of any potential food sensitivities or allergies they may have on top of that.
Dogs have unique personalities
Two members of the same breed and family can be quite different in terms of their general demeanor and behavior, and pet owners can be quite surprised by how stark these differences can be. A brother and sister duo may have one zany brother and one dignified, classy sister, and sometimes, this can be completely outside the stereotypical understanding of that breed. Keep that in mind when you build your bond with your dogs and ensure you’re prepared to positively reinforce good personality traits.
Some breeds tend to have health issues
Certain dog breeds are more prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia in larger breeds or breathing difficulties in flat-faced breeds. Research the breed of dog you’re interested in to learn about any potential health concerns and be prepared to take preventative measures or seek treatment if necessary.
This site is a great resource to use to showcase some of the common issues that a particular breed might have, the warning signs to look out for and when to seek immediate treatment.
This might be more expensive than you realized
You don’t need to be mega-wealthy to have a pet and to look after them well, but you do need to budget for unexpected costs and to make sure you give them a good quality of life. It’s important to make sure dogs have what they need, including grooming when required, health checkups and medications when appropriate, and the right tools, like microchipping or training sessions. Sure, this can get expensive, but it’s a cost well worth it. After all, you can’t put a price on memories, nor developing a wonderful bond with a furry friend you appreciate through and through.