First Time Dog Owner
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5 Important First-Time Dog Owner Tips

Owning a dog is a huge responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many important tips that a first-time dog owner should consider before bringing home their first furry fluff ball. The fact that you are here reading these tips means that you are already on the right track. Your new four-legged friend will be wagging his tail thanks to your due diligence. We did our research for this article and compiled the 10 most important tips for new owners.

1. Do Your Homework

I know what you’re thinking. “Homework Noooooooo!” I promise it’s OK. It doesn’t have to be boring and tedious. However, you want to make sure that you do your homework before impulsively purchasing the first cute puppy you see.

Many first time dog owners unfortunately make the mistake of falling for those adorable puppy dog eyes before they even consider the breed or temperament of the dog. Regrettably, this leads to thousands of dogs ending up in the shelter. Which leads us int our next important tip for any first time dog owner.

2. Consider Adopting

While purchasing a dog from a breeder can be OK for certain people and specific situations, it is usually better to adopt a dog from your local shelter. Animal shelters are overwhelmed with cats and dogs that usually end up there from abandonment and other reasons.

If you are stuck in the middle and can’t decide whether to adopt or buy from a breeder, these stats may help simplify your decision.

Shelter Statistics

  • Shelters intake a whopping 7.6 million companion animals every year.
  • 3.9 million of those are dogs.
  • 1.2 million, nearly two thirds, are euthanized.
  • The majority 53% of adoptable pets in North America is dogs.

Why do so many pets end up in shelters? According to Orvis, forty seven percent of pets are surrendered due to “pet problems.” These problems include aggression, behavior, size issues and unforeseen health problems.

3. Research Dog Breeds

This is probably the most important tip we can give for a first-time dog owner. I know this from personal experience. I made the mistake of buying a big fluffy Great Pyrenees puppy “McKenna” for my daughter that I found on Craig’s List many years ago.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do my homework and consequently paid the price. We had a decent size yard with a fence, but it was much too small for a Great Pyrenees. As she grew older and bigger, she was able to easily escape. Needless to say, many of our neighbors had the privilege of meeting our sweet McKenna.

We eventually found a nice family with a farm and plenty of land for her to roam around and put into action her natural guardian instincts. In hindsight I would have purchased a smaller dog breed that needed less space to be content.

If you aren’t sure which type of dog breed to get, here are some quick picks for certain situations.

Breed Selection

  • Apartment Living: Top Choice: Bichon Frise
  • House with Tiny Yard: Top Choice: English Bulldog
  • House with Small Yard: Top Choice: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • House with Medium Yard: Top Choice: Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • House with Large Yard: Top Choice: Golden Retriever
  • First Time Dog Owner: Top Choice: Labrador Retriever
  • Active Owner: Top Choice: German Shepherd
  • Family with Children: Top Choice: Boxer
  • Family with Baby: Top Choice: Pug
  • Family with Cat: Top Choice: Beagle
  • Family with Allergies: Top Choice: Poodle
  • Family that Stays Busy: Top Choice: Dachshund

Any of these breeds would make wonderful pets depending on your circumstances.

4. Know The Costs

Dogs aren’t cheap! Make sure you understand all of the costs associated with owning a dog before making that final decision. Obviously adopting a dog from your local shelter will be way more affordable, at around $200, then purchasing a full breed which can range from $500 to $50,000.

Then you have to add up all of the costs throughout the lifetime of the dog to get a good idea of what you will be paying each year. Costs will include adoption or breeder fee, food, supplies, training, vaccinations, vet bills and unforeseen health conditions that may arise depending on the breed.

Here are some examples of the lifetime costs for certain breeds:

Dog BreedAverage Lifetime Costs
Bichon Frise$20,520
English Bulldog$16,135
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel$17,300
Pembroke Welsh Corgi$17,330
Golden Retriever$22,720
Labrador Retriever$21,890
German Shepherd$17,935
Boxer$19,595
Pug$16,210
Beagle$15,585
Poodle$28,260
Dachshund$17,845

Of course, these average costs can skyrocket if for need a dog walker every week and boarding for vacations once a year. There are also several health issues than can add up especially for large dog breeds. Hip Dysplasia alone can reach upwards of $13,000 alone when involving total hip replacements.

To estimate the total costs of a dog breed that you are interested in, check out the petbudget.com calculator!

5. Avoid These Pitfalls

Before becoming a first-time dog owner, make sure to take a couple of weeks and do your research. Consider the breeds and which one would best fit your family. Of course, a lot of times this concept fails, and we choose the dog that connects with us or melts our heart at the shelter.

It is also very common for people to find their dog through word of mouth. In these cases, it is harder to prepare and know what you are getting into. Regardless, try to avoid these common reasons that people end up surrendering their new dog.

Common Pitfalls

  • Barking – Some dog breeds bark more than others. Consider your neighbors and choose a breed that barks less when living in close quarters or in a city apartment.
  • Destructive Behaviors – To avoid destructive behaviors in your new pooch, make sure to crate train them from a young age and follow that up with additional training depending on the breed.
  • Expenses – Make sure that you can afford owning a new dog. Tally up all of the expenses and calculate the average monthly costs and lifetime costs as discussed earlier in this article.
  • Health Issues – Some people are allergic to dogs and certain breeds shed more than others. Choose a hypoallergenic dog breed to avoid this common pitfall.
  • Landlord – When renting, always check with your landlord to make sure they allow dogs and specifically the breed you plan on owning.
  • Temperament – It may be hard to know exactly what the temperament of your dog will be. This is especially true when adopting. Try to gain as much information as you can and try to avoid adopting a dog that is too aggressive especially if you have children.

Think hard about these issues and plan accordingly. You want to be prepared for every scenario if possible.

First Time Dog Owner Tips In Closing:

It is so important to take your time when choosing a new dog for you or your family. Do your research and make sure that you are picking the right breed especially related to size. We hope that you find the perfect four-legged friend and have many happy years together!

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Do you have any more advice for a first-time dog owner that we may have missed. Let us know! We would love to hear any suggestions for new owners!

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