Smart Tips for New Dog Owners
If you have recently made the decision to adopt a dog, congratulations! You are about to embark on one of the oldest animal-human relationships in history. Dogs were domesticated long ago, and canine history has followed right along with much of human history. You are likely aware of the many responsibilities that owning a dog entails. You should consider the obligations of dog ownership as you make decisions about what type of dog to adopt and how to help support a strong relationship by setting up good routines.
Choosing the Right Breed
If you are adopting, you are less likely to be able to bring home a purebred animal than you if you bought from a breeder. Humane societies and animal shelters have an “as-is” policy — what you see is what you get. Mixed breeds are often up for adoption, and with these breeds, you can never be absolutely certain of a dog’s lineage. Even though DNA tests are available, they can provide vague results. However, a veterinarian can usually do some guesswork on breed based on characteristics your pooch exhibits. There’s even an app that helps you determine your dog’s make-up with a smartphone picture.
Otherwise, when adopting, your choices are likely going to be limited to the size of the dog. Luckily, a dog’s size is probably the most crucial factor in determining whether the breed is right for your home. In general, a large dog or breed is going to need more exercise and will more easily become frustrated if left inside for long hours.
A smaller dog may not be the best jogging partner, but he will still need exercise. Smaller dogs often cannot last the entire workday without a bathroom break, so if you work long hours far from your house, choosing a toy poodle might cause some discomfort for your dog and messes in your house.
If you are looking at specific breeds, there are several online quizzes to match your lifestyle with a type of dog. These can give you some guidance when speaking with a dog adoption agency. Volunteers and employees also are good at connecting humans and dogs. The last thing they want is a failed adoption, so they will likely also quiz you about why you want to adopt a pet and your home’s fitness.
Preparing Your Home
You’ll want to make sure that your home is prepared for your new addition, too. Start by removing dangerous chemicals and plants, as curious dogs could get sick by eating something poisonous. Also, be sure you have the cleaning supplies you need to clean up after Fido and keep him from eating things off the floor that could cause him harm.
A quality vacuum cleaner is essential (especially if you have long carpeting in your home that traps fur and dander), as is carpet cleaner and deodorizer for wet messes, and a floor sweeper to catch hair and dust on hard surfaces. If you bring home a puppy and your home has carpeting, be prepared for housebreaking accidents. These can usually be cleaned with some vinegar and baking soda, but tough jobs might require a pro. If that’s not an expense you’re willing to take on, consider bringing home an older pet that’s already housebroken. And to help lessen allergens, pet hair, and dander in your home, invest in a quality air purifier, though spend a little time researching the different models before selecting one. As a matter of fact, you should check out pet-specific online reviews before you buy any pet-related product, from doggy backpacks to pup-friendly toys.
Bonding and helping your dog acclimate
Once your home is safe and ready for a dog, your work in welcoming the new pet has just begun. Pet ownership requires some work to create a close bond. This close bond is essential for your dog’s happiness and good behavior. Even minimal training requires a level of trust. Rescue pets may seem nervous or fearful at first, so it’s essential that you take extra caution in making their homes comfortable.
Dogs are already naturally social. Their pack instincts tell them to trust a leader. This alpha dog role is well-known. Failing to establish a bond early on may make later attempts at training and socializing difficult. There are several ways to strengthen the innate connection between a dog and owner.
During the first few weeks of ownership, be sure to pay extra attention to your dog. Play with him often and create a regular walk schedule. Dogs love routines and can easily get upset when theirs are disrupted, so carefully consider when you walk your dog during this initial bonding window. Try to pick times that you can commit to so your dog understands when to expect a walk. If you’re working late and not able to walk your dog, you may have to hire a dog walker. A 15- to 20-minute walk usually costs between $15 and $17.
Getting a new dog is hard work, but it is also a rewarding experience on many levels. Take a little time to prepare and make your dog feel at home, and the two of you will be best friends in no time.
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