If you’re about to adopt your first-ever pet, congratulations, you’ve made a decision that will most likely bring you decades of happiness.
Caring for an animal companion is one of life’s great pleasures. Taking the plunge into pet ownership for the first time can be overly exciting, however, and some people think that they don’t really need to know anything before they bring their little guy or gal home. It can’t be that hard, right?
Well, it’s not exactly hard, but it can be complicated if you don’t know some basics of pet ownership. Here are some essential tips for the first-time pet owner.
Eliminate the Unexpected
When it comes to making sure you and your new dog are copasetic, it’s vital to establish routines and introduce structure into their life as soon as possible.
One way to do this is to make sure your dog has established ground rules from day one. Sure, it might be cute to let your new dog lie on the couch with you, but if you don’t want a couch dog for the long term, then you should never allow this — not even on day one. You should try, as best as you can, to make your dog eat, sleep, go outside, and exercise at the same time every day. By doing this, you can help avoid household accidents and a rambunctious dog when it’s time for human sleep.
“Dogs need order. Let your pet know from the start who is the boss. When you catch them doing something they shouldn’t, don’t lose your cool. Stay calm, and let them know immediately, in a loud and disapproving voice, that they have misbehaved. Reward them with praise when they do well,” says the Humane Society.
For info on the five essential commands to teach a new dog, check here.
Get Your House Ready
Before you bring your new friend home, stock up on some important items. Make sure you have food and water dishes (as well as food and water), toys, and a good leash for your daily walks – you don’t want your pal getting away from you during your outdoor adventures. Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of a good dog bed in a safe place, since your dog is most vulnerable when it’s sleeping. Make sure your pooch feels as safe and comfortable as possible in your home while catching up on his much-needed rest.
Don’t Give Your New Dog Too Much Range
Keeping with the structure theme, it’s vital that your new dog has a designated “safe space” in their new home — at least for the beginning. Giving your dog free run of your entire house can not only lead to poor behavior, but it can also be unsettling for a dog. This is especially important if you adopt an older dog, who may take quite a bit of time to get acclimated to a new setting. It’s also especially important if you have existing pets. It lets the meeting process happen slowly and reduces the risk of conflicts.
“When the established dog is present, keep the new dog confined, but able to see, smell, and hear the established dog so they can communicate. This will also give you a chance to observe their interactions to get an idea of how they are adjusting to each other’s presence,” suggests ReachOutRescue.org.
The Bonding Begins Immediately
“Love is what makes your dog dance when you come home at the end of the day, while the bond is what keeps him from taking off without you when the front door opens,” says the Bark.
Every dog is different, but there are some pretty universal ways to make sure you develop a bond with your dog that lasts a lifetime. Most dog-owner relationships that are subpar suffer from a few common problems. First, the owner doesn’t give the dog enough attention and praise. Second, the owner doesn’t exercise and play with the dog enough. And third, the owner attempts to “punish” the dog for bad behaviors instead of simply and firmly correcting them.
Maybe the best overall rule for first-time pet ownership is to practice patience at all times. Dogs pick up on aggression, fear, and frustration. If you are calm and collected, your dog will be calm and collected as well.