The Essential How-To’s for First-Time Pup Parents
Author: Jessica Brody
Are you considering getting your first dog? Meeting your first furry friend is awesome for many reasons, but it is a big responsibility and it requires time and money. Each pup has a unique personality and different needs, so you’ll figure out a lot of it as you go. But there are a few things to know that will generally help your experience as a first-time pet owner go more smoothly.
How to Pick the Pet
The first stage of ownership is choosing what breed and age fits you. It’s important to think about your lifestyle and living situation. If you’re busy with work and don’t spend a lot of time at home, then an older dog might be the answer. A mature dog may be less dependent on you for companionship, while a puppy will require more attention and need to be let outside a few times each day.
Consider the size of your home and yard as well. For instance, if you have a small home, a Newfoundland dog could prove too large; similarly, if your backyard has limited space, a border collie or other hyperactive breed may not be the practical option. Moreover, it’s important to factor in any household allergies. There isn’t a breed that’s completely hypoallergenic but some are more allergy-friendly than others. If you have an allergy to dog saliva, you may wish to steer clear of heavy droolers, such as the mastiff and boxer. Whatever kind and breed you choose, you’ll want to be sure to clean your dog’s bed frequently, keep them groomed, and minimize dander in your home.
How to Prepare the Home
Part of preparing the home for the new arrival is getting the whole family involved in the caretaking process by distributing tasks such as feeding, walking, pottying, etc. It’s also important to pet-proof the home by removing any choking hazards from the floor, moving electrical cords out of the way, placing cleaning chemicals and medications out of reach, and so on. Furthermore, be sure to designate an area where your dog will spend most of their time and make sure it’s a place that allows easy clean up.
How to Help with Acclimation
Bringing a new dog home is exciting and foreign for everyone. For a smooth transition, it helps to follow a few important guidelines. First, find out if they any belongings from their previous home (i.e. toys, bed, blankets, etc.) and lay them out in their designated space. Second, be sure your kids know how to properly approach the new dog without overwhelming them. When you introduce the family, especially for rescue pets that may be uneasy and scared at first. Third, try to keep their old routine for the first week or so, and gradually transition to your schedule. Just be sure to stick to the routine once you establish it, because consistency is paramount in helping a dog feel secure in a new environment.
How to Form a Bond
Like human relationships, spending time with your pup will enforce your bond. Set aside time each day to talk to them, take them for walks, play with a soccer ball in the yard, pet their belly, or take them on a hiking or camping trip. Training is another important part of forming a bond, because it establishes your role as leader and companion along with expectations and boundaries. It’s vital that you practice consistency in your tone and methods; you want to be calm and assertive at all times.
The bond formed with a pet partner is healthy for all people, but it can prove to be especially beneficial for those in addiction recovery. Dogs don’t pass judgment and they have a way of showing unconditional love. Such a companionship can cut through the shame often felt by someone recovering from substance abuse and taking care of a living creature is also a healthy responsibility.
Owning a dog is among life’s greatest joys, especially when you make the necessary preparations. Choosing your pet carefully, preparing your home, helping them acclimate and building a bond are all essential in making the process go more smoothly. So, if you want a four paws and claws and are willing to put in the effort, follow these tips to set yourself up for a flourishing friendship.
Photo Credit: Unsplash
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