So you’ve decided to become a dog parent, congratulations! You’ve given your new pooch an amazing home. Besides, you now have a new best friend that will be with you all the time and love you unconditionally. Although taking your new family member home can be exciting, it can be also scary to become a first-time dog owner. Here are 5 things you need to know as a first-time dog owner that will help you prepare you for the road ahead.

1. What you should buy as a first-time dog owner

Of course, you need to buy some basic things for your dog. Where will your dog sleep? Where will your dog eat? Here is a list of things you should get as soon as possible:

  • Collar, leash, and ID tag
  • Food and water bowls
  • Dog food
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste 
  • Tick and flea prevention supplies
  • Crate and/or bed
  • Dog toys
  • Waste pick-up bags

These are the essentials but there are also some extras you can get. It’s a good idea to have a safety harness for the car if you need to drive around with your dog (even if it’s only to go to the vet).  You should also get some brushes and nail clippers if you’re not planning on hiring a dog groomer.

As for the dog food, find out what your dog has been eating and decide if you want to keep that diet or change it. If you decide to change your dog’s diet you’ll need to follow a transition protocol. Learn more about dog nutrition so you can pick a new dog food that provides your dog with a balanced diet. Or talk to someone that can help you like your vet.

As for the toothpaste, you should get one made for dogs. Human toothpaste can have components that are toxic to them.


2. Prepare your house

Decide in advance where is your dog’s sleeping spot going to be. If your dog is used to it, it’s a good idea to pick a confined space like a crate. Prepare the crate ahead of time so your dog has a sleeping spot ready for a homecoming nap.

Changing places is overwhelming for dogs. Most of them spend the first days, weeks, or even months, adjusting and the whole process can be very tiring to them. It can take some time for a dog to get used to a new home and show its true personality. So don’t be worried if your new pooch sleeps a lot at first. You’ll need to be patient and give your dog a good place to relax and decompress.

3. Build a routine and stick to it

Since changing places can be overwhelming for your dog, a great way to help them adjust to their new surroundings is by creating a daily routine and sticking to it. It doesn’t matter exactly what that routine is like as long as you repeat it every day. The most important part of a routine is that you feed, walk and crate your dog around the same time every day. This will help your dog settle in quicker, prevent any accidents around the house, and help with crate training. 

4. Choose a vet

After getting your new dog home, one of the first places you should go is to the vet. This is even more important if you have other pets around the house. You should have your vet check for any illnesses before introducing your dog to other pets.

It’s important to have good communication with a vet. You should be comfortable enough to ask any questions you may have. Besides the regular check-ups and vaccinations, your dog may have some health issues. Being able to ask any question may help detect one of these health issues in an early stage.


5. Don’t wait to start training your new dog

It’s never too early to start training a dog. Dogs need training as it gives them a sense of structure. Every day, take some time of your day to train your dog. Besides, when bringing a new dog home, dog owners shouldn’t assume they’re housetrained.  Dog owners should give them treats each time they go potty outside. This can help prevent accidents around the house.

Another key aspect of training should be socialization. Introduce your new pup to new people and other pets. That way, you’ll help develop your dog’s ability to have healthy social interactions. Don’t go straight to the dog park as it may be overwhelming and take it slow. Training your new dog can also help prevent some behavioral issues. However, you should still be prepared for them. It can be something small such as excessive barking or inappropriate chewing. But it can also be more serious like separation anxiety or aggression

Either way, it’s a good idea to prepare for each situation before they come up. See if you can get some referrals on dog trainers to call in case you need help. It can be hard for first-time dog owners to know what to do when their dog has behavioral problems.

Making sense of it all

Owning a dog is a life-changing decision and a very rewarding one. Set your dog up for success by preparing to include it in your home and learning more about dogs. Give your dog plenty of time to adjust to the new surroundings. It will take some patience but once your dog settles in you’ll develop a great bond.

Relax throughout the process and do the best you can. Take a deep breath whenever you feel stressed. All you need is to give your new dog lots of love and everything will be alright.