Top 12 Tips for First Time Dog Owners

Tips for first time dog owners husky puppy with one blue eye and one brown eye playing with Giraffe toy

Now that you decided to add a dog into your life, it’s important to be ready! People that have owned dogs before can give valuable advice with Tips for First Time Dog Owners.

Good job on deciding to gather information from previous dog owners on how to be successful with tips for first-time dog owners. Three ways that will set you up for success – be prepared, plan ahead, and gather an abundance of patience.

You started off with a great beginning by carefully choosing a dog breed that fits your lifestyle either through a responsible breeder or working with your local animal shelter to adopt a dog.

Now, you can learn about the most important tips for first time dog owners.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #1:  Establish a Budget. 

Be prepared by knowing how much of your income is needed to care for a dog. Dogs will need food, supplies, vet appointments, preventive medicine (flea/tick/heartworm), dog training, grooming, and appropriate toys.

The biggest expense for dog owners is the unexpected emergencies or health issues. To help off set those expenses, consider the different options available for pet insurance.  It’s recommended that pet owners start an emergency fund for their new pet. 

According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), new dog owners can expect to spend between $1,500 – $2,500 annually for their new pet. The size of the dog, the dog’s grooming needs, and veterinary expenses will vary for each household.

Plan to spend a minimum of $20,000 for the life of your pet.  If you travel without your pet and use a dog sitter or kennel service, you can add an additional $150 – $650/per week depending on your area and the kennel accommodations.

Doggie daycare is a popular choice for busy pet owners, costing them around $30/day. For city dwellers, you might also consider calculating the cost of a dog walker.

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Tips for first time dog owners Dachshund puppy winking at camera
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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #2: Chose a local veterinarian

Before bringing your new dog home, plan ahead by making an appointment with your veterinarian.  Puppies and adopted dogs will both need to have a health check-up.  The vet will examine your dog, take a fecal sample, and might suggest doing a blood draw. 

Tips for first time dog owners that will be taking their dog to their first appointment include making it a happy occasion. Plan to bring treats and take your time approaching the clinic and try to remain relaxed during the appointment.

We’ve even gotten down on the floor with our larger, uncrated puppies (even older dogs) to make it a more relaxing experience. 

Veterinary expenses could include puppy vaccinations, annual check-ups, preventative medicines, supplements, and a neuter/spay surgery when appropriate.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #3: Purchase Supplies.

Prepare for your new dog by making a visit to your local pet store. Some items can be purchased before your new dog arrives. However, others will be made after you bring your pup home.

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Two extra tips for first time dog owners regarding buying supplies are:

1.  Purchase a crate that grows with your puppy. Many dog crates come with a divider and as your puppy grows you can remove it, making the crate larger.

2. Have a collar, leash, small treats, and special toy and/or blanket ready when you go to pick up your new dog.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #4: Buy Quality Dog Food.

The selection of dog food available to dog owners can be overwhelming.  A quality breeder will advise on the best dog food for your particular breed.

When making the best choice for your dog, consider their size, breed, or mix of breeds, age, and energy levels.  Tips for first time dog owners include knowing that puppies have different nutrient requirements than adult dogs.

The five key nutrients that dogs need to thrive are protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, and digestive carbohydrates. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Care: Puppy Edition outlines the details of what to feed your puppy and suggested feeding schedules.

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Tips for first time dog owners Pomeranian puppy peeking out of carrier bag
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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #5: Dog Proof Your Home.

Preparing your home for a canine is going to make life easier for both of you, especially if you are bringing home a puppy.  

  • Clear the floor of clutter.
  • Put away items that might get broken from a wagging tail.
  • House plants should be out of reach.
  • Remove any food items from the dining room table and countertop that are within the reach of a dog.
  • Children’s toys should not be accessible to a dog, as they could chew the toys, or the dog could choke on them. They can also be completely swallowed and this may result in a risky surgery to remove the toy.
  • Consider furniture covers if they are allowed on the couch or chairs.
  • Tuck away electrical cords so they are not accessible.
  • Consider a dog proof garbage can. This may not be necessary, however, if you are adopting from a shelter, the dog may be used to providing meals for themselves and a garbage bin is the perfect place to begin the search.

While you are in the process of dog proofing your home, one bonus tip for first time dog owners is putting your tv or game remotes in a drawer and away from your new pet. Dogs are attracted to anything that has your scent on it or the scent of food on it.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #6:  Slow Introduction to Your Home

One of the biggest tips for first time dog owners is to introduce your new puppy or dog to a couple of rooms at a time. Choose the most commonly used rooms in your living space.

Here are the tips for first time dog owners when it comes to slowly introducing your home to a new dog; gate off the kitchen and dining room area.  Although you can choose an area where you spend the most amount of time and have floor areas that are easy to clean.

As your dog feels comfortable you can introduce another room in your home.  Keep in mind that puppies that are not house trained will need quick access to the designated potty area.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #7: Know Your Dog’s Grooming Needs.  

All dog’s need their coat, nails, and teeth groomed on a regular basis.  Your dog will have one of six kinds of coat types.  Most double coated and long coated dog breeds need shampoo and a good dog brush.

Curly coated and wire coated dogs will require special grooming techniques.  Dogs that do not shed their coat will need regular trimming.

Tips for new dog owners include finding a skilled groomer by checking reviews online. Ask about the price to see if it fits your budget and will they be accepting new dogs.  When possible, visit the groomer beforehand so that both you and your dog can meet them in-person. 

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #8: Establish a Routine. 

Regardless of the age, dogs like a routine. Wake up time, potty time, feeding schedule, enrichment, training, walking, playtime, and time to rest.

Scheduling tips for new dog owners and new puppies is to establish a focused routine around potty times, rest, potty again, train, potty again, and so forth.

Dogs really are creatures of habit.  They will be less stressed knowing they wake up and go for a morning potty break every single day.  It’s best for a dog’s digestion if they are feed around the same time each day.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #9: Begin dog training. 

Your new dog or puppy will begin learning manners from the first moment you meet them.  A dog is ready to learn how to live in your world.  Feeding times are wonderful opportunities to teach sit and learn about impulse control. 

Tips for first time dog owners include planning ahead by spend five minutes several times a day training your dog.  Teaching your dog to be polite and have good manners can start with small bits of time done consistently throughout the day. 

When you are unsure what to train your dog, sign up for a local dog training class.  Often the local kennel club will offer puppy classes and general obedience classes.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #10: Socialize Your Dog.

Dog socialization is simple defined as giving your dog positive exposure to anything they might encounter in their life with you.

Keep in mind that a dog that has been exposed to different environments, people and other animals will be a more confident dog.

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Tips for first time dog owners includes socializing your new puppy or dog.  It could include any or all of the following exposures.

  • Walking on different surfaces such as concrete, carpet, wood floors, shiny floors, grass, and tile.
  • Safely viewing tall people, short people, people with different skin colors, quiet people, and loud people.
  • While sitting or walking by your side, they can view a variety of dogs, such as dogs with long ears, little tails, tall dogs, tiny dogs, and dogs with flat faces.
  • Dogs need to know that strollers, wheelchairs, walkers, and bicycles are all part of their world and they do not need to fear them.
  • Encounters with people with hats, hoods, and helmets.

Dog training classes are structured settings where your new dog can be exposed to different floor textures, people of a variety of ages and different shaped dogs.

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Tips for first time dog owners Samoyed puppy playing with a ball while playing with a ball
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Tips For First Time Dog Owners #11: Plan to Exercise Your Dog. 

How much exercise your dog needs depends on the breed(s).  Every dog needs some type of daily physical exercise for enrichment, muscle toning and taking care of business.

Ways to physically exercise your dog include taking a walk, playing a retrieving game, experiencing an obstacle course, walking up and down stairs, and even hide and seek style games.

The advantage of playing hide and seek with your dog is it can use both mental and physical energy.  Other ways to mentally tire out your dog are introducing scent games, practicing staying in the down position, and puzzle toys.

Valuable tips for first time dog owners is utilizing dog toys designed for adding kibble and/or dog friendly food and freezing it.

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Tips For First Time Dog Owners Tip #12: Accept Responsibility.

This last tip is not intended to be insulting but is among the top tips for first time dog owners. Hopefully responsible dog owners can prevent less dogs from going to an animal shelter. 

Once you apply the above tips for first time dog owners, it will enable you to prepare to be a successful responsible owner.  The goal is to experience the joy and companionship of dog ownership.

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Tips for First Time Dog Owners

You are off to a wonderful beginning with your new dog. Anyone who has enjoyed having a dog knows the extra effort and patience are well worth it!

The greatest tips for first time dog owners is knowing your time and financial commitment are for the life of the dog.  By adjusting your budget to allow for a new pet, you can make the necessary veterinarian appointments and be ready for any medical emergencies.   

You will also be prepared by purchasing dog supplies and quality dog food. Grooming equipment like shampoo and brushes will keep your dog’s coat looking it’s best.

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A few tips for first time dog owners that are fun are socializing your dog and training your dog.  Be consistent in both these areas and enjoy the process of your dog growing in confidence and adjusting to your life.

Part of the process as you and your dog adjust to each other is establishing a healthy routine together.  Puppies will especially thrive on routine potty breaks, short training moments and time to rest.

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One of the last tips for first time dog owners is making time to exercise your dog. Exercise could include a short walk outside to eliminate or a longer hike to take in all the smells and experiences of the outdoors.  A dog needs to move and strengthen their muscles to contribute to good health as they age.

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