There are few things more fun than being a first-time dog owner (or first-time dog parent, as we like to say). Of course, there are also a few things more intimidating—how do you make sure the needs of a pet that doesn’t speak your language are being met? If you’re a first-time dog owner, you’re likely excited and a bit nervous. You want to do what’s best for your dog; you want your dog to be well-fed; you want them to walk on a leash and play with you in the park-like those beautiful movie dogs (that level of happiness and joy is attainable and not relegated to limelight fiction), but as you look at your precious new dog without a clue what to do other than to pet it and say nice things, you realize you might be out of your depth.
It’s okay. No first-time dog owner dives in and aces all of the many challenges of doggy parenthood, but with this first-time dog owner guide, you’ll certainly have a leg-up toward nailing being a first-time dog owner.
1. YOUR DOGS’ FEEDING SCHEDULE
Since it was mentioned already, feeding schedules are important parts of having a dog. While some new pet parents believe it’s okay to just dump food in the bowl and keep the thing full, it’s not recommended. (It’s okay if you’ve been doing this; pencils have erasers for a reason.)
Medium-sized dogs (i.e., not toy or miniature) should be fed once or twice daily. Larger breeds feed the least frequently at once a day upon maturity; small toy breeds actually feed more often (sometimes every hour). Keeping your dog on a feeding schedule with a regulated quantity of food for your dog’s age and weight will help your dog’s digestive system, their overall health, and their growth and development in tip-top shape.
Overfeeding your dog can lead to obesity and a plethora of health problems, so find the feeding schedule and the nutrient-rich natural dog food with which to feed your dog that works best for everyone.
2. YOU NEED TO BRUSH YOUR DOG’S TEETH
Brushing dog teeth and general grooming are things that are more surprising to first-time dog owners than the need to regulate feedings. Brushing an animal’s teeth may seem foreign; however, dogs can contract harmful diseases through orthodontics, which is why oral healthcare is vital.
Dogs can get support through not only a natural, healthy diet (some foods are better than others for your dog’s teeth), but they can also consume daily dental chews such as WHIMZEES that help to naturally “brush” their teeth.
Other care dogs need includes ear cleanings, brushing, and nail trimming. Dogs need to be groomed just like people do.
3. YOUR DOG NEEDS TO GO TO THE VET
Depending on where you adopted your dog and or how you got them, you may have more veterinary visits in-store than others. Dogs, regardless of whether or not they stay inside, need to get regular vaccinations and other health care to maintain comprehensive wellness.
Further, veterinarians like to make sure nothing unsuspecting like canine arthritis or other issues are on the horizon. Additionally, your dog’s vet can provide heartworm medication and other treatments that will protect your dog from disease-laden insect bites. These insects can implant ailments into your dog that are lifelong. Early, proactive, and ongoing veterinary care can help to prevent these issues.
4. YOUR DOG NEEDS TO BE FORMALLY TRAINED
Another thing some first timers may not know is that dogs need to be trained. While most dogs are naturally loveable and friendly, some dogs are not trained and will bark at the door when a delivery driver comes, or when anybody comes for that matter. They will pant. They will panic. They may also pee in strange places when panicked.
Dogs need formal training. While dogs will ideally get this training at an early age, it’s never too late to get formal training for your dog. While it may take effort or cost time and / or resources, not having your dog bark at guests, jump on you or guests, use the restroom in unacceptable places, or try to run away when on a lead are all well worth it.
5. YOUR DOG NEEDS TO HAVE BOUNDARIES
Though in a similar vein of needing to be trained, dogs also need boundaries. First-time dog owners need to take the time to dog-proof their homes just as they would child-proof their homes when their beautiful doughy infant becomes a rambunctious toddler. Dogs will chew shoes, paw at furniture, drag pillows, climb on couches, trot off with and chew up children’s toys (or forbid it, your iPad) unless they are trained to know what their boundaries are within the home.
Boundaries can be set by putting certain things away where dogs cannot get to them. They can also be set by creating designated spaces for your dog to enjoy your company or to be social.
6. YOUR DOG’S TREATS & TABLE SCRAPS NEED TO BE REGULATED
Lastly, the final thing to know is that dogs do not need table scraps nor do they need a ton of treats to be happy. Yes, dogs love table scraps and treats. They will be super grateful, and they will reward you by showing you how delighted they are; however, dogs are similar to toddlers. They will be grateful, but just because they’re happy doesn’t mean that the treat is good for them. Table scraps aren’t always healthy for dogs. What’s more, some foods can be extremely harmful or fatal to dogs.
An excessive amount of treats, meanwhile, like human foods, can make dogs overweight. While they might make them happy, they need to be fed in moderation. The best thing dog owners can do when they want to treat their dog is to play with them with a toy or spend quality time together. Allow your dog to be nourished with a healthy, natural diet, which will ensure they feel energized and at their best.
Dog parenthood is a lot of fun; it’s a lot to take in, and yes…it takes time to really figure it out, but once you do, you’ll find it’s the best first you’ve ever experienced.
Being a dog parent is a true gift; dogs are loving, loyal, and fun. Of course, while dogs are amazing, caring for dogs takes a little bit of learning. Make being a first-time dog parent easier by nurturing your dog with delicious natural pet food like the recipes we make at Wellness CORE. We care about your dog’s health and happiness, which is why we work hard to make sure all dogs and dog parents have exactly what they need for great day-to-day and for lifelong wellness.