Caring for your first dog

Embarking on your first adventure into dog ownership is exciting. A new furry friend, endless cuddles and licks and excuses to roll around in the park, and an additional member of the family to love - what could be better? However, alongside the thrill of a new dog comes considerable responsibility; before bringing your new pet home, proper planning and preparation are vital.

Are you ready?

Before taking on the massive responsibility of dog ownership, you must ensure you can provide everything they'll need to be happy and healthy. In a nutshell, this means covering the five doggy welfare needs; 

  • Dogs love to run, dig, roll, sniff and pee on things. Do you have space for your pet to live out regular doggy behaviour patterns? i.e. do all those things that make a dog, a dog!
  • Do you have time in your schedule for this 'person'? A canine is a pack animal and emotional being - they thrive in the company of others, be it a dog or human companionship. Left alone for eight hours a day, five days a week while you're at work, could have a seriously detrimental effect on your pet's wellbeing.
  • Dogs need suitable food to be healthy, have you done your research? Can you provide the diet which will sustain a healthy, active dog?
  • Do you have space in your home? Size dependant, your new dog could need a cute little corner bed (Shitzu), or an entire room (St Bernard). Your pet will need a warm, dry bed and space where he feels totally at home and secure.
  • Do you have the financial capacity? Beyond the purchase fee, dogs can be a costly addition to your life. The price of insurance, decent food and dog gear can all mount up. Moreover, vets bills can be crippling - can you ensure their protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease?

So you answered yes to all of the above, and your new dog is ready to come home. We've compiled some handy tips to help you settle your new friend into his new home;

Bringing your dog home

The first thing you'll need to do is dog-proof your place - this means lifting anything unsavoury or non-doggy-appropriate from withing reach of a nose or wagging tail! The same principles as human baby-proofing apply - even baby gates can be a help for cornering off areas you'd rather stay dog free! Likewise, the garden will need to be secure and free of any poisonous plants or dangerous items.

Set up

You'll need to make sure your dog has an area set up; this includes a warm bed and water bowl. It's a space they can call their own. New houses can be overwhelming for some dogs, so having everything ready on the day they arrive creates a calm atmosphere. Limiting them to one or two rooms at first is a great way to ease them in gently and build up confidence.

Here's a list of things you may need for your new friend;

  • Water and food bowls
  • A comfy bed
  • A lead
  • A buckle collar complete with detailed tag, i.e. your name and number
  • A harness - this is more comfortable for your dog when walking, especially if they pull on the lead
  • Bones for stress and boredom relief
  • Toys for play

Setting up with a reputable veterinary clinic

Register with the local vet. If you're bringing a pup home, vaccinations will need to be up to date. Also, microchip details require updating as per address.

Establishing a routine

With all else organised for your new dog, it's time to initiate a routine. Dogs are creatures of habit, like us humans, and feel secure in an established routine; try to walk and feed them at the same time each day. Before long, your new friend will be waiting by the door at walk time, like clockwork!

In a nutshell

A dog is a fantastic addition to your home and family. Together you'll have many happy adventures, your lives now forever entwined! With the right preparation and research, you and your new pet will thrive together.


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