January 19, 2021

Your First Dog: Tips and Advice for the First-Time Pet Owner

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by Jessica Brody


If you are thinking about adopting a dog, you are not alone. According to the AVMA, over 36 percent of American households have a dog, roughly equating to about 69.9 million households total. However, not every person who adopts a dog is truly ready for one. Bringing a pup into your life is a huge responsibility. If you don’t have the time and resources to properly care for a dog, he will likely become anxious or restless and act out in destructive ways. Your best bet is to do as much research as possible before picking a pup so you can make an informed decision and find the right match for you and your lifestyle.


Picking the Right Breed and Size


When it comes to dogs, it’s never one-size-fits-all. If you have a larger dog with a lot of energy, he is going to need a lot of room and opportunities to burn it. If you live on a lot of land or have a big backyard, a high-energy breed will feel right at home. However, if you live in an apartment or smaller home, you may do better with something smaller or less active.


If you love big dogs but you just happen to live in a smaller space, you don’t necessarily have to concede to adopting something the size of a chihuahua. Some larger breeds– including mastiffs and retired greyhounds— do well in apartments. In the end, a lot of it has to do with the dog’s personality.


No matter how big your home or how active your dog is, you need to walk him for at least 15 minutes twice a day. This crucial daily exercise is good for both your dog’s physical as well as mental health. If you do not have the time to walk your dog this much, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t adopt. You can hire a dog walker to let your pup out during the day while you are at work as a way to help out.


The Rescue Solution


If you are unsure about what type of dog is right for you, your local shelter is full of behavioral specialists and match makers that will be more than happy to help you pick the right pup for your lifestyle and needs. While you may not get a purebred when you rescue, you are more likely to get a dog with a personality that agrees with you. Rescue shelters are ready and willing to take as much time as needed to match dogs with the right forever home. Plus, in the end you are saving the life of a dog that truly needs it.


Helping Your Dog Acclimate to Home


When you finally find the right match, you want to go slow introducing your dog to his new home. Set up a small area just for him with a warm bed and perhaps a special toy. Show him his bed area as well as where his food and water bowls are. Let him sniff around and get used to the place, but go ahead and establish boundaries including discouraging him if he tries to lift a leg indoors.


Beyond introductions, spend time with your dog daily in order to bond. Your dog is part of your family and you are his leader. Taking him for walks, learning his behaviors, playing, and spending down time together are all ways for you to establish connections. Over time, you will be able to establish trust and soon you will fall into a good routine with your new best friend.




Adopting a dog is a huge responsibility, so you want to make sure you are prepared. Find a dog that is right for your home and lifestyle. While you may not get a purebred, adopting through a rescue shelter is a great way to get a dog whose personality is right for you. When you finally find the right match, take your time introducing him to your home and establish boundaries immediately. With time and patience, you will bond with your new furry family member.


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