Being a Dog Owner: A 101 Guide

If you are looking to become a first-time dog owner, congratulations –  as soon as you welcome your new four-legged family member to your home you’re in for a wonderful ride. However, we know that being a dog owner when you have no experience can be an intimidating prospect, so we thought we’d put together a handy guide to help you get started on your journey to becoming a proud dog owner. Read along to find some great tips on how to best care for your new pooch. 

Finding the right puppy 

Every dog breed comes with its own personality and characteristics, so make sure you do your research and find a pup that not only matches your lifestyle and your budget. If you live in a flat for example, you’d be looking to get a small breed that feels comfortable in an apartment, or if you have kids or other pets you’d want a dog that is likely to socialise well with them. The time you spend learning about breeds will be well-worth it, as having a dog is a long-term commitment and you definitely want to get the perfect fit.


Once you know what breed you are after, it’s time to find the actual puppy. With more and more puppy scams on the internet and puppy farms holding dogs in terrible conditions, it is very important to ensure you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. Be on the lookout for red flags, such as oddly low prices, sellers who avoid meetings in person or are asking for payments you didn’t expect. A good way to avoid suspicious puppy ads is to use a puppy website that requires health checks and vets the breeders rigorously. 


Another good option to consider is adoption. With thousands of dogs being abandoned in Australia each year you could make a real difference by giving an innocent animal a second chance in life.  

Preparing your home for a puppy  


When you are about to welcome a new furry friend home, you need to ensure your house is suitable for a dog to live in. Move anything that could be harmful out of reach, this could include things like cleaning products that could be poisonous and small items that could be a choking hazard. 


Consider placing baby gates around the house if there are places where you wouldn’t want your curious pooch to go and explore. Also, make sure that if you have a garden, it is dog-friendly. For example, put up fences so that your dog can’t sneak out and double-check that there are no plants within reach that could be harmful to a dog if ingested. 


When your new dog first comes into your home it will take some time to adjust, so having a safe area to retreat to if they feel anxious is important. Set up a space that your dog can comfortably settle in. Find a quiet area where to put your dog’s bed, blanket and toys. 


You will also need to prepare your dog’s food and water bowls, as well as a potty training crate – it’s a must-have when you are trying to toilet train your puppy.  

Training & Exercise  


Dogs are active animals and they need a good daily dose of exercise to be healthy and happy. As a first-time dog owner, the most important thing to remember is that dogs love their routine. Make sure you go for walks at the same time every day and never let the weather stop you from going out. Without enough daily exercise, your dog can become depressed or restless and lash out. 


Also, don’t forget that playtime and daily walks are the perfect time to bond with your pet. A game of fetch and a little affection can go a long way when trying to connect with your dog. 


Training is also a key part of your dog’s routine and exercise pattern. Be sure to start training your puppy as early as possible, the longer you wait, the harder it will become. You can begin with teaching your dog basic commands and progress to more exciting tricks when you are both ready.  


Be as consistent in your training regime as you are with the rest of your dog’s daily routine and most importantly – be patient. Losing your temper with your puppy when the training isn’t going as well as you would have liked will only be a setback. Positive reinforcement and treats are the right way to go if you want to achieve good results fast. 

Keeping your dog healthy


One of the first major things to sort out before you get your first dog is to find a vet. Make sure the veterinarian has good reviews and even meet up with them to check out their facilities and find out if they are the right fit for you and your family. 


Having a vet is important, as you will want to have your puppy checked out as soon as it arrives to ensure everything with their health is in order. You might also want to consider having your dog microchipped to ensure that you have a way of tracking it if it’s lost or stolen. Your veterinarian will also be able to advise you on the puppy vaccination schedule, as well as whether your dog should be spayed or neutered. 


How much you feed your puppy and what food types and brands to choose are things that you can discuss with your vet. Every dog has different nutritional needs depending on their sizes and activity levels. However, the bottom line is that your pooch has to have a complete, nutritionally balanced diet to be healthy. Don’t overdo it with the treats – they should only make up to 10% of your dog’s daily intake. 


You and your dog 

Probably the most important thing about being a dog owner is giving your four-legged friend the love, care and affection that they deserve. Remember that to your dog, you are their entire world so every moment you spend with them helps build a very special bond. 


As a new dog owner, there will be a lot of new things you will have to learn, such as how to groom your dog and how to socialise it with other dogs, people and children. You will also have to take on new responsibilities, from maintaining a dog-friendly daily routine to cleaning up after your dog when you go out for a walk. The truth is, you won’t get everything perfect the first time and that’s ok. 


Similarly, your puppy will make mistakes too but you should always be patient and understanding with your furry friend – if they are acting out, find out why. Make your pup feel loved every day and you are guaranteed a loyal best friend for life.