The decision to adopt a dog isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It’s a massive commitment, it’s expensive and it’s something that will change your lifestyle forever. It’s not something that should be done on a whim and certainly not something that should be done without a lot of thought and preparation. If you and your family do decide to become new dog owners (or if you decide to adopt a pup on your own) there are several things you should know.
Tip #1 for New Dog Owners: Pet Insurance Can Help You Save
Dogs are expensive. According to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), the average cost of owning a dog is somewhere between $27,000 and $42,000, depending on the breed. This includes food, toys, grooming, and veterinary care. These figures are averages and don’t take into account unforeseen emergencies, accidents and illnesses, which can nearly double the cost.
You invest in health insurance for your family, and, if you decide to adopt a dog, then you should be willing to provide the same care to them that you would the rest of your family. Find out how pet insurance works and what pet insurance covers, and make your own decision about whether or not it’s something you’d like to invest in for your new furry friend.
Tip #2 for New Dog Owners: Dogs Like to Chew, So Make Sure You’re Prepared
If you’ve never owned a dog before, you may not realize how destructive puppies can be. Depending on what type of breed you adopt, potty training maynot be your biggest concern. Chewing could be.
Puppies are like toddlers, but with massive teeth capable of chewing holes in your favorite shoes, your carpets and even your walls. Depending on the breed of dog you adopt, you’ll want to invest in ways to stop your pup from chewing through your favorite items. Potions such as Bitter Apple Spray can help, as can distraction methods such as chew toys.
Bitter Apple spray is non-toxic and can be sprayed on anything and everything you think your pup may enjoy nibbling on. Spray your shoes, your walls, everything. Your pup will hate the flavor and after one taste, find something else to bite into. Chew toys should be that “something else.”
Great chew toys for puppies include nylon bones and plush toys. They’re easy on puppy teeth and hopefully will taste better than your favorite shoes!
Tip #3 for New Dog Owners: Socialize Your Puppy With Dogs and People
New dog owners should make sure to socialize their puppy with other dogs, puppies, cats and children as soon the vet allows (after necessary vaccines). This will help your pup grown into a well-adjusted, friendly dog.
While your puppy may love everyone and everything, if you fail to socialize him as he grows, this could stop, depending on the breed. Your dog could turn aggressive, or conversely, become afraid of people.
Consider enrolling your pup in puppy Kindergarten so he has time to socialize with other puppies. Take him to the park and allow him to interact with other (friendly) dogs. Consider taking him to a school or local playground and letting the kids play with him. All of this will help him grow into a friendly, non-aggressive, happy dog.
Tip #4 for New Dog Owners: Introduce Your Puppy To Loud, Scary Noises
There’s nothing sadder than a dog that’s afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks and other loud noises. Many dogs experience episodes of panic upon hearing loud noises that can result in hiding under beds or in bathtubs, destruction of property or even fearful aggression.
To help avoid these reactions, make sure to expose your new puppy to as many new things – and noises – as possible as he grows. The goal is to have him reach doghood as a confident pup, not afraid of thunder, fireworks or other sorts of loud noises.
Tip #5 for New Dog Owners: Set Boundaries and a Routine Early On
Just like children, puppies thrive on routines and need clearly established boundaries. When you first bring your puppy home, have a family meeting and review the rules that your new pup will need to abide by and make sure everyone is on board. Don’t want your pup on the sofa? No means no. Even if you decide to stay alone one night watching a movie and want a little extra company on the sofa, the pup can’t come up. If you let him up once, he’ll think the rules have changed and he’s allowed up whenever he wants.
The same goes for people food. No people food means no people food ever, even if you want to give your pup a little treat. If you start breaking these rules, your pup will become confused, and later when you punish him for breaking your rules he won’t understand why. You need to set boundaries and stick to them.
Make sure to establish a routine: take your pup out at the same time, exercise him at the same time and feed him at the same times each day. This will help him know what to expect and when, which will, in turn, help his behavior.
Are you a new dog owner? What’s your best advice for new dog owners?