First Time Dog Parent Tips

Tips for First Time Dog Parents

Congratulations on your new furry best friend! Dog ownership is one of life’s greatest joys! 

Being a first time dog parent is exciting and so rewarding, but there’s lots to be learned, too. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of everything you should know when becoming a dog parent! Think we missed anything? Send us an email at!

There’s so much to think about before bringing a new puppy home, the naming process will seem easy!

Do Your Research

Bringing home a dog is a big commitment and research should be done so you can have the best breed for your lifestyle! Shelters can help match you with dogs in their care based on your preferences and lifestyle considering they know the dogs so well! Some breeds are also better suited for first time pet owners than others, like Labrador Retrievers and Shih Tzus. Before taking home your first dog, you should think about how you like to spend your time. If you’d rather stay in and binge-watch the newest series, dogs like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds might not be the best fit for you. However, if you’d rather spend all weekend hiking and trying new dog sports, breeds like Pugs and English Bulldogs also might not be the best fit for you. Consider the dog’s size, too, when it is fully grown. Some apartments have weight restrictions and also are not great living arrangements for large, active dogs.

All breeds are different so plenty of research into which breed will work best for you and family is so important!

RELATED: Here’s a great list of dogs perfect for apartment living, the best breeds for families, and 10 of the most active breeds

Puppy vs Adopting an Older Dog

The same goes for deciding between bringing home a puppy or adopting an older dog! While puppies are adorable, they are also a lot of work. They also require more time as they need to be potty trained and can’t stay alone for extended periods of time like older dogs can. When getting your first dog it’s important to think about which age of dog might be a better fit for you and your family. Adopting an older dog is great because you already know their personality and how they behave. Plus, they are likely potty and crate trained already! If missing out on the joys (and messes) of puppyhood is not something you can do, there are still lots of puppies for adoption and from reputable breeders!

RELATED: Thinking of a name for your new dog? Here’s 10 food inspired dog names!

Assess your Budget

Bringing home a new dog can be expensive. There are many costs associated with dog ownership, like grooming trips, vaccinations and checkups, and purchasing quality food and treats! Plus, you never know when an unexpected cost might pop up, like an emergency vet visit or surgeries! Something to think about also, if you plan to take a trip without your dog, you’ll likely need to find a trusted pet sitter.

FYI, in your new puppy’s first year you can expect to spend about $4,800 on them! 

Get your Home Ready for a Dog

Preparing your home for a new dog is an important step into dog parenthood. Puppies can be mischievous and get into things they definitely shouldn’t. It is important to pet proof your home to make sure your new pup can’t get into any danger like wires, remotes, plants, and other objects they might want to eat. If they’ll be going in your backyard, it’s a great idea to check the perimeter of your yard to make sure there are no gaps in fencing that your dog can squeeze through. 

It’s also a great idea to create a calming environment for your dog to make them feel at home. Some dogs enjoy calming music playlists. Your new dog might also benefit from a natural calming supplement to help ease them into their new home.

Prepare to Train your New Dog

Be prepared to train your new dog, especially if he or she is a puppy. Puppies need help to navigate their new world and should be taught basic manners and where to potty! Training essentially starts the day you come home with your new furbaby. If your new addition is coming from a shelter or rescue, they’ll likely be a little nervous of their new environment. It’s best to give him or her some time and space to get adjusted to their new home. Research shows that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement so it’s great to have yummy training treats on hand.

Find the Right Dog Food and Supplements

Some dogs are picky, while others have allergies that require certain foods. Your dog will probably have a food they’ve been eating either at the shelter or with their breeder. You may want to stick with this food or change it up to a high quality fresh food! 

A great way to make sure your dog will eat their food is by using a food topper! For an added bonus of nutrition, it’s best to find one with benefits like joint, immune, skin and coat, and digestive support.

The Fun Part: Buying Supplies

This part is the fun part! Picking out your dog’s new collars and leashes is almost like shopping for you! You can give your dog their unique style here. There’s so many fun options out there today! Some pet parents prefer to use a slow feeder bowl to make feeding fun and challenging, plus they aid in digestion! 

Another great way to keep your dog’s brain working is by supplying them with interactive toys, like tennis tumbles, puzzles, and sniff mats!

Create a Routine

It’s great to have an established routine, especially when bringing a new dog into your home! Adopting a dog will already be a big adjustment for them, so sticking to a routine will best help them settle in their new environment! Puppies especially thrive on a schedule to ensure they are getting out enough to potty and are getting enough nap time so they don’t get over tired. A routine also helps ward off separation anxiety because your dog can begin to expect you to leave and come home at certain times.

RELATED: How to deal with separation anxiety in dogs

Have a Plan

It’s always good to have a plan as a dog parent. Do you work long hours? You might want to look into a doggy daycare or dog walker. Are you planning a dog-free vacation soon? You’ll have to find a dog sitter or have a trusted family member or friend available to watch him or her. Another good idea is to research and ask for reviews on the vets in your area and to also find your closest emergency vet, just in case.

Most Importantly, Have Fun!

Dog ownership is fun and makes our lives so much better! While it may seem overwhelming, these few tips will have you ready for whatever dog parenthood throws at you! Plus, there’s a huge community of dog parents who are always willing to help, give advice, and to love your dog almost as much as you! There are so many great parts of being a dog mom or dad, like the stress-relief, the walking, the dog community, and of course the unconditional love! Now all that’s left to do is create your dog’s social media profile!

Pre-Congratulations on your new addition!

RELATED: 5 science based benefits of having a dog

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