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Many people think of their dogs as their children, and this metaphor is particularly apt when thinking about bringing home a new dog for the first time. If you were becoming a first-time parent, you would do everything you could to prepare your home, make it safe, snag the proper supplies, and learn about the baby’s care. It’s no different with a dog, really. You must be prepared on all fronts. Here are some essential tips.

You need to make your home as dog-friendly as possible

While it may seem like your dog wants to run around the house without any sort of barriers, the fact is that new dogs are often trepidatious of new surroundings. Keeping your dog confined to a “safe space” at first and slowly introducing them to your home is actually the best way to make sure they acclimate. Prepare your dog a safe space by securing the proper supplies - a dog bed, food & water bowls, toys, and a crate for sleeping. Cordon off a room or a space in your living room with baby gates. 

Eventually your dog will roam around, however, and you’ll need to pet-proof. Puppies and nervous rescue dogs may come to you with house control issues. Crate training will help (more on that here), but you should also make use of pee pads to protect your floors and carpets. Make sure that you childproof your lower cabinets and put dangerous cleaners and other chemicals high up. Hide electrical cords behind furniture, or cover them with tape. Dogs of all breeds like to chew, and chewing on electrical cords is incredibly dangerous. 

The best way to raise a well-behaved dog is through exercise

Yes, you will want to begin training your dog as soon as possible - not only to follow commands, but so they know what type of behaviors are not ok (climbing on the couch, chewing shoes, barking at neighbors, etc.). But when it comes down to it, the best trick you have in your arsenal to raise a well-behaved dog is routine - specifically an exercise routine. 

Walking your dog is the best way to help them expel energy. If you are a person who is busy at work or travels a lot, it’s in both of your best interests to hire a dog walker to help out. Apps like the ones from Rover make this process incredibly easy. Walking isn’t the only thing you can do to help your dog meet their exercise quota. Playing fetch or frisbee in the yard, letting them run around with other dogs at the dog park, swimming, hiking, and even indoor exercises can help keep your dog well-behaved. 

Not all dogs are for you

Yes, all dogs are cute and deserve a home - but maybe not your home. Mismatching a dog and its owner can make both miserable. You must make sure your dog’s needs are met, and the way to do this is to be 100% sure that your lifestyles mesh.  If you aren’t very active, you shouldn’t get a highly active breed. If you don’t have a yard, you should get a dog that is ok with being a couch potato. If you have allergies, you should get a dog that is better for that. It’s not rocket science, but many people forget to check the qualities of specific dog breeds before making a commitment. Try a breed selector to help you determine which dog is right for you. 

Treat first-time dog ownership the way you would treat any major life decision - with extreme care and preparation. If you take the time to do what’s right for your new dog, you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, happy, and loyal companion for many years. 

Veterinary Topics