Your First Pup: Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

This is a guest post written by Jessica Brody from OurBestFriends.pet. Check out her bio below to read more about her.

There are so many people who love having dogs in their lives. Dogs improve a person’s mood, and researchers have even found that playing with your pup increases the brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin. Other studies have found that dogs may reduce their owner’s risk of cardiovascular disease -- the number one killer in America.

When children grow up in a household with dogs, they are less likely to experience pet allergies and eczema. Dogs also get their owners outside and exercising, keeping people active when most lifestyles hardly allow time for fitness. Finally, dogs provide unconditional love and support in a world where people feel more anxious and depressed than ever.

If you are considering getting a dog for your household, but you are a first-time pet owner, these helpful tips and tricks can make it easier to determine the right breed, prepare your home and help your furry friend acclimate to their new environment and family.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

When you buy a purebred dog, you know exactly what they will look like once they are grown. Unless you have specific goals for your new puppy (like agility competition or service dog work), you probably don't need an expensive purebred puppy from a breeder. In fact, when you buy a dog from a pet store, there is a good chance you are supporting puppy mills, which are essentially dog breeding farms with terrible conditions.

The best option for most people is adopting a dog. Rescuing a dog from a shelter saves more than one life. Not only is your new beloved pet safe, but also your adoption opens up a space and resources for another animal. Adopting also does your part in reducing pet overpopulation while giving a loving animal a second chance. Finally, adoption simply makes financial sense. While purebred dogs can cost upwards of thousands of dollars, whatever small adoption or medical fees you do have to pay, you can feel good knowing it is going back into an organization that helps animals.

Picking Your Pup

To determine what kind of breed or type of dog is right for you, it helps to think of your lifestyle. Your home and yard size are great places to start. If you have a large house and a fenced-in backyard, your options are open when it comes to dog breeds. People who live in small apartments or those who have limited yard access will do better with either a smaller breed or an apartment-friendly one. Of course, if you lead an active lifestyle and want a running/hiking buddy, a high-energy breed may work for you no matter where you live. You can also look for dogs that are less likely to trigger allergies including Schnauzer, Maltese and poodle mixes.

Keep in mind that all dogs are individuals. While a specific breed comes with certain traits, they're not carbon copies of each other! Be sure to get to know the specific puppy before bringing it home. If possible, meet the puppy's parents and learn as much as you can about the puppy's early life.

Bringing Home Your First Dog

When you bring home your pup, you will likely experience a variety of emotions such as excitement, nervousness, joy and fear. Have everything in place before bringing your dog home. Place their food and water bowls in their spot, have a bed set up, and if your home has a fence, make sure it is secure.

It also helps to invest in the cleaning supplies you need. A heavy-duty vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter, spot treatment for carpet and anti-bacterial spray are just the basics to include in your supply closet. If you need to upgrade your vacuum cleaner to effectively reduce the amount of pet dander and fur throughout your home, refer to this guide to choose an efficient appliance touted for its ability to handle pet hair.

If your pup seems nervous once home, don’t worry. It usually takes a few days to acclimate to a new environment. Many shelter pets have gone through a lot in their short lives and may be fearful of abandonment. Consider hiring a certified dog behavior consultant trainer to help you and your new dog get to know each other, especially if you are a first time pet owner. Having an expert on hand -- one who employs force-free methods -- can improve your communication skills and teach you how to read your dog’s language. You’ll have a chance to establish the rules and lay the groundwork for raising a well-behaved companion.

If you live in or around Denver, contact Canis Major today to talk about dog training and puppy selection!

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Dogs provide unconditional love and bring warmth into the home. If you are adopting a dog for the first time, always weigh the benefits of adopting over purchasing a dog from an abusive puppy mill. Picking the right dog is half the battle, but preparing your home with the accessories and cleaning supplies you’ll need can be a lifesaver when it comes to the messes that come with pup ownership.

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Jessica is a dog lover and creator of OurBestFriends.pet. She created the site to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals. Jessica believes dogs are the best creatures on earth. She enjoys writing about and sharing photos of dogs (and other pets!) on her website.