New dog owner? Wondering what the must-knows are about doggie diet, healthcare and exercise? Whether you’re bringing home a puppy or have opened up your home and heart to a rescue dog, here are our top tips for new dog owners.
A happy life together starts with choosing the right best friend. Will you adopt a rescue dog or puppy? Or is your heart set on a specific breed? Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to think about what your new dog will need for a happy, healthy life. We’ve split our top tips into sections to help: pre-move in shopping, some admin essentials, exercise, diet, building your bond, and some dog owner etiquette as well.
What will you need to buy and before your dog or puppy comes home?
There are 5 practical things to think about as soon as you bring your new dog home. As a new dog owner, you’ll need to do some admin to get prepared for your four-legged friend. Double check you’ve sorted these dog essentials:
How important is exercise for dogs?
In a word, very. As well as keeping your dog physically fit and at a healthy weight, exercise stimulates your dog’s mind, too. Imagine how bored you might get if you were cooped up indoors all day with no mates, no TV and no internet – that’s how home-alone dogs can feel, which can lead to unhappiness and behavioural problems.
If your new dog is just a pup, you might also find our guide to puppy walks useful: Top puppy walking tips from Lintbells. It covers all the essentials, including early socialisation and practical training tips.
It’s really exciting to welcome home a new dog, but building a good relationship takes time and effort from day one. It’s a good idea to join a training class to get some practical tips with this – and have fun learning new things – but to lay the basis for training, you need to establish a good relationship without letting your dog become too dependent.
Dogs are pack animals and can get very dependent on human attention. It’s a good idea to follow some simple rules to avoid behaviour problems down the line. Here are our top tips for new dog owners:
But of course, one of the best ways to build your bond with your new dog is to get out there and have some fun. Picking up a new doggy-hobby is one of the best ways to do this!
Always be mindful of your dog’s age, breed and any health concerns before starting a new activity, and have a chat with your vet or vet nurse if in doubt, but here are some ideas to get you started:
You love your new dog or pup to bits– but have you thought about the wider community? As dog owners, we need to be careful that our best friends don’t cause headaches for others. Here are our tips to help new dog owners learn the ropes of responsible dog ownership:
It may not be pleasant, but it’s the right thing to do. Buy biodegradable bags if you can and pick up wherever you are – that includes countryside walkies. Don’t hang bags on fence posts or trees if there isn’t a handy bin. It’s a nasty habit, and livestock can eat these bags with fatal consequences. It’s also a good idea to learn the Countryside Code.
Don’t let your dog become an embarrassing, potentially dangerous pest like the infamous Fenton!
Not everyone is a dog person. And that’s OK. As dog owners, we have a responsibility to make sure the people around us are happy and comfortable too – so don’t let your dog jump up on people or furniture, and be mindful that some people are scared of dogs.
A dog wearing yellow means ‘give me space’ – responsible dog owners respect this signal and stay away. Though your puppy or dog may be happy around others, don’t forget not to let them approach other ‘yellow dogs’ or dogs who are on their lead if your dog is off the lead. Though your new best friend may be friendly, the dog they approach might not be!
Get registered with a local vet. This is our number one tip when it comes to helping your dog enjoy a happy, healthy life. They will give your new best friend a check-up and make personal recommendations.
If your dog isn’t neutered yet, it’s worth discussing this important procedure to prevent accidental pregnancies, reduce the risks of certain cancers, and help male dogs feel calmer and less frustrated. Your vet or vet nurse will also be happy to talk through a doggie healthcare routine, which should include:
What should dogs eat?
Dogs are omnivores, so should eat a mix of protein (meat or fish), carbohydrates (starchy foods) and nutrient-dense fruit and veg. Thankfully, it’s easy to meet their nutritional needs with a good quality complete food.
Always bear in mind these three dog-diet essentials:
Consider your new dog’s age and activity level, and make sure they’re on an appropriate puppy, adult, working dog or older dog mix. Do your research, read reviews and talk to your rescue centre, vet or vet nurse if you need extra advice. We’re always happy to talk about doggie diets too!
Digestive episodes and dogs
One of the most common experiences the families of new dogs talk to us about is grumbling tummies. There are many reason a dog’s tum may not be feeling 100% when they change homes, including change of food, change of environment and dietary intolerances – however probiotics can really help. Learn more here.
Dogs and human food
Sharing the family dinner with the dog isn’t a good idea, both in terms of nutritional balance and calories. A sausage to a medium-sized dog is the equivalent of one and a half chocolate bars to a person, and may contain ingredients that aren’t good for dogs, like onion, preservatives and spices – find out more about doggie diet no-nos in this blog.
The best way to train your dog, make new canine friends and learn the best top tips for new dog owners is to find a good training class. Your vet or vet nurse will be able to suggest the best ones in your area – make sure the trainers only use positive, reward-based methods though.
Classes are great as they give your dog or puppy the opportunity to socialise with other dogs, but you can also go it alone. Recall is the best place to start. Recall – or coming when called – can be the most challenging piece of training you’ll do with your dog. But it’s also the most important, as it gives your dog freedom and keeps them safe.
How to train a recall like a pro
Take your dog to a quiet, controlled space – ideally not a busy part of the park! Be prepared with their favourite food, treats or toy, and keep them on a long line (lead or long, light piece of rope). Then get started…
Now practice, practice, and practice some more, always making it fun for your dog. Extra tips polish a rock-solid recall include...
We hope you’ve found our new dog owner tips useful, and would love to meet your new best friend on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’ve got some doggie pics and videos to share, you’ll make our day! And if you have a question, please do pop it in the comments below...
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