How to Choose the Right Breed and Other Tips for New Pet Parents
So you’re thinking about getting your first dog. That’s great, but before you head down to the animal shelter, you need to know a few things that might influence your decision. Having a dog isn’t all games of fetch and nights snuggling on the couch. It takes work and foresight. Here’s how to pick the perfect pet and make the most of your many years together.
Pick the right pal
Many new pet owners are surprised to find out that not all dogs have the same needs, likes, or personalities. Some breeds are more protective than others, making them ideal for families with small children. Other breeds, such as the boxer or border collie, are high-energy and require lots of exercise. Purina’s dog breed selector will help you narrow your search. In addition to your lifestyle, your decision must also account for factors such as pet hair allergies and living space.
Cater to your companion
You can’t bring a dog into your home without a few preparations. Certain things, such as fencing the yard and buying food and toys, are obvious. Others are not. If you have a busy work schedule, you may need to make arrangements for your pup to have an occasional companion throughout the day. At the very least, consider establishing a relationship with a dog walker to check on him a few times a week. You will also need to pick his veterinarian, determine where he will spend most of his time, and have a crate ready to go if you plan to crate train. Dog-proof your home by removing hazards, including poisonous plants and electrical cords, and try to feed him at the same times for as long as possible until you are all comfortable in your new life together.
Bond with your new buddy
Your first reaction upon bringing your pup home will likely be to roll around on the floor and provide as many kisses and cuddles as possible. But hold up. In order to appropriately bond with your dog, he will need a bit of independence and time to acclimate to his new environment. Start by letting him explore his new digs while on a leash. He will want to smell everything—that’s how he communicates and how the world communicates with him. It takes time to establish a real bond with your new best friend, but playing games, exercising, and feeding him will get you off to a great start.
Get acquainted with animal training
Being a responsible pet owner also involves teaching him right from wrong. There are a number of different dog-training methods; the one you choose will depend on your comfort level and your dog’s personality. At the very least, he should learn to respond to your voice or visual commands to sit, stay, and heal. As an added bonus, training your dog helps establish pack order, strengthens the bond between you, and helps your new pup ease into his new life. This is especially important for young animals or rescue pets that may be nervous or fearful while adjusting to a sudden change in their living situation.
Have fun with your furry friend
You’re about to embark on a journey of fun and friendship. But you’ll first need to identify activities you can do with your dog. Many areas offer access to dog parks, where you and your pup can play fetch and mix and mingle with new like-minded friends. Remember when we mentioned picking the right breed? That also plays a part in what activities you and your dog will enjoy together. Some dogs enjoy the water and will make great boating companions. Some will be more content hiking through the wilderness. Best Friends Animal Society has numerous ideas on ways to have fun with your dog.
This is not a comprehensive guide to pet ownership, but we hope these tips and resources will help you get your relationship off to a great start. Talk with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or behavior and don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family with experience in the doggie department.
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