The PDSA has put together their best tips to help first-time dog owners in this new stage of their life.
Before getting a dog, you need to make sure you can meet their welfare needs. This means you have to make sure you can provide everything they’ll need to be happy and healthy. To do this you will need to make sure you have enough time for a new dog, think about how much they’ll cost and make sure you budget for this.
Your vet or vet nurse can give you lots of advice to help you find your perfect pet before you get them based on your lifestyle and needs, so it’s always worth having a chat with them.
Bringing your new dog home
The first thing you’ll need to do after choosing your pet and making sure they’re right for you is to dog-proof your home. You’ll need to make sure your dog has their own area set up and that anything harmful is well out of reach.
If there are any areas of your house you don’t want your dog going (or you want to limit when they can and can’t go in them) you might want to look at installing baby gates. These are a great way of teaching your dog where they can and can’t go. They’ll also enable your dog to see you if you go into a room they’re not allowed in (which can be very reassuring for them).
You’ll need to make sure you have a dog-friendly garden. If you’re getting your dog from a rescue centre, they’ll often come and check that your home is suitable and tell you how you can improve it. It’s important to make sure your garden is secure and that there are no harmful plants where your dog can reach.
Helping your new dog settle in
Before bringing your new dog home, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need. New places can be overwhelming for some dogs so you’ll need to make sure everything is nice and calm at home on the day they arrive. You might want to limit them to one or two rooms in the house at first so they can get used to everything slowly in their own time.
Plug-in diffusers that release calming pheromones can be good for the first few weeks. These release hormones that won’t harm your dog but will help them to feel more relaxed around the home.
It’s important to get your dog into a routine as soon as possible to help them settle. Try to feed and walk them at the same time every day. Make sure their microchip details are up to date and that they are fully vaccinated before you take your dog out.
Feeding your dog
It can be tricky to know what to feed a new dog. Diet is really important in keeping them slim and healthy so the PDSA always recommend a complete, commercial dog food appropriate for their age. The adoption centre or breeder should be able to advise you on what food your dog was already eating and how much. If you’re unsure, speak to your vet or vet nurse.
There are lots of different types of diet for dogs out there. If you’re thinking of changing your dog’s food, always make sure they’ll still be getting all the nutrients they need and change their food over slowly to avoid stomach upsets.
Exercising your dog
Each dog has different exercise needs depending on their age, breed and health.
There are lots of different ways you could exercise your dog, but remember they’ll need at least one walk a day to make sure they stay happy.
If you’re getting a puppy, you may need to go easy on the exercise at first. Puppies have very different exercise needs to adult dogs so it’s important to keep this in mind.
Make sure your dog is fully vaccinated before taking them out for walks.
Training your dog
You should always use positive, reward-based training when teaching your dog new things. This way the two of you will bond and they’ll see training as something really fun to do.
A lot of owners think about toilet training first! Some older dogs may already be housetrained, but you might find you need to brush up on this training regardless. Always be patient and never shout at your dog if they have an accident.