Ten Tips For New Dog Owners

An attentive puppy learning something new.

Dogs make wonderful companions, but the first-time dog owner needs to understand that caring for a dog companion is a commitment for the life of the dog. Dogs are not playthings to be left tethered out in the yard, only to be given attention at the owner’s whim. Your dog should be considered a member of your family, and given the same care, consideration and respect you would give your own human family members. Your dog will depend on you to care for his needs and to teach him to be a loving, faithful companion.

  1. Choose a puppy instead of a full-grown dog.
  2. Puppies are clean slates; they haven’t had any training yet. An improperly-trained adult dog can be taught to behave, but it will be a more difficult task for the inexperienced owner.

  3. Teach your puppy good manners right from the beginning.
  4. Puppies only know how to act like puppies, and they’re awfully cute doing so! But if you allow him to misbehave, or nip and bite people, you’ll reinforce his misbehavior and may end up with a dog who is not a good companion and may even be a threat. Even very young puppies can be taught the sit/stay, down, and come commands. Get a good book on dog training or enroll yourself and your puppy in a dog obedience course.

  5. Choose a dog breed with a reputation for being submissive.
  6. Research the various dog breeds before choosing your puppy. Most breeds will generally have either dominant or submissive personalities, although there are variations within a breed. The guard and sporting breeds generally have more dominant personalities, and an inexperienced dog owner may have difficulty keeping them under control. A dominant dog will run the household if you let him! Submissive breeds are more eager to please you and tend to be easier to train and control. When choosing a puppy from a litter, roll the puppy onto his back and rub his tummy. Usually, a more submissive puppy will allow you to do so; a more dominant puppy will resist.

  7. Use voice commands to correct; never hit your dog.
  8. Striking a dog only makes him fearful and distrustful of humans. Use a high-pitched voice to praise him when he’s being good, and a low, gruff voice to gently scold (never yell) when he’s misbehaving.

  9. Learn about dog nutrition and health.
  10. Feed your dog a high-quality dog food for his optimum growth and a healthy immune system. Have him checked out by your vet, and regularly as your vet recommends, to catch any potential health problems early.

  11. Socialize your puppy.
  12. Dogs who are exposed to a variety of people, other animals, sights, and sounds while they’re young will be less fearful of new experiences as they grow older. Take your dog on car rides to fun places at an early age, so he doesn’t learn to associate a car ride with a trip to the vet!

  13. Have patience when potty-training.
  14. Puppies are like children; some take right to potty-training, and sometimes it seems like it’s never going to happen! You can help your puppy become trained more quickly by confining him to a small space, or a crate, when you are not able to supervise him. Clean up all accidents immediately with a urine removal product. It’s a dog’s nature to go in a spot that has been previously soiled with urine or feces, and stained carpeting can greatly hinder your efforts to house break your dog.

  15. Give your puppy his own toys.
  16. If you don’t care to have your new shoes chewed up, don’t give him your old ones to play with! Puppies should have their own dog-safe toys to play with, and may have a preference for either soft or hard toys. You may have to experiment to find out which your dog prefers. When you catch him chewing on something that is not his, simply replace the object with one of his own toys until he learns the difference. Praise him when you see him playing with his own toys instead of your belongings.

  17. Handle your puppy gently.
  18. Don’t allow anyone to play roughly with your puppy. Your dog needs to understand that all touch is good. A dog who is shy of being touched will be difficult to handle if he requires grooming or must be given first aid treatment. Get him used to having his mouth, feet and legs, ears, and other body parts handled.

  19. Protect your dog from household hazards.
  20. Just as you would with small children in the house, look around your home and yard for potential hazards. Keep electrical cords tucked away where they can’t be reached. Place household cleaners and chemicals on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet. Avoid houseplants and landscape plants that may be toxic to your dog. Pick up small toys or other small objects that may be a choking hazard. Your dog’s safety is your responsibility!

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