New Dog Owner Guide – What First-Time Dog Owners Should Know

Are you considering getting a dog or puppy and have never experienced dog ownership before? First of all, I would like to congratulate you for considering before getting a dog or puppy. The purpose of this new dog owner guide is to provide first-time dog owners information with information about responsible dog ownership.

Responsible pet ownership is very important to giving your new pet a happy and permanent home. Consider this as a lifetime commitment for the duration of your dog’s life.

Do You Have the Agreement of all Household Members?

Before you do anything you need to have all members of your household agree on the decision to get a dog or puppy. Are any of your family members allergic to dogs? This is very important to know before you take any action. Some dogs are more hypoallergenic than others. Hopefully, you would know whether any household members have any allergies, however, if you are unsure if the person with allergies is allergic to dogs, that family member should go to an allergist and be allergy tested to determine whether they are allergic to dogs.

If this person (or persons) is extremely allergic to dogs, then I would advise you not to get a dog as no dog is completely hypoallergenic. It is possible to reduce the amount of dander on your dog, especially if they are among the most hypoallergenic breeds. These breeds include hairless dogs and dogs with no undercoat.

Your family should look in shelters or breed rescues for dogs you are all interested in.  When you find a dog of interest your allergic family member should spend time with this dog.  Shelters are always looking for volunteers to help take care of the dogs. If this dog is well tolerated and your entire family is in agreement then you should foster this dog first before committing to ownership. If your family is determined to find a dog that the allergic person can tolerate, then consider a foster dog. However, only consider fostering dogs that don’t shed much at all.

Examples of Dog Breeds that are More Hypoallergenic

The Chinese Crested is part of the Toy Group
The Chinese Crested is part of the Toy Group

Here are a few examples of dogs that are reputed to be more hypoallergenic than others. The most hypoallergenic dogs there are hairless breeds. Following the hairless breeds, the next best hypoallergenic dogs are the dog breeds that have hair that continually grows, instead of fur, that sheds. Weekly brushing and bathing will keep your dog from shedding even more. However, you will most likely need to get these dogs groomed to keep their hair from getting too long and matted.

Hairless Dog Breeds

1) American Hairless Terrier

2) Xoloitzcuintli (aka Mexican hairless dog)

3) Chinese Crested

4) Peruvian Inca Orchid

Xoloitzcuintli-Hypoallergenic_mexicanHairless
Xoloitzcuintli-Hypoallergenic_mexicanHairless

Dog Breeds with hair With Less Dander

1) Bedlington Terriers

2) Bichon Frise

3) Portuguese Water Dogs

4) Poodles (Toy, Miniature, and Standard)

These dog breeds are hypoallergenic because they don’t have an undercoat. Dogs with no undercoats shed less resulting in less dander. Bathing and grooming these dogs at least once a week will help even more For more information about the dog breeds listed above and all AKC recognized dog breeds, please refer to https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/. For more information about reducing the impact of dander on allergic persons please refer to https://www.allergyfortworth.com/tips-to-reduce-accumulation-of-pet-dander-in-the-house.

Research the Needs of Dogs Before Committing to Ownership

Once you have gotten past the allergy considerations and have your full household in agreement to get a dog, there are much more factors to take into consideration. Before deciding upon a dog breed or mix to purchase you need to take stock of where you live. Do you live in an apartment or a single-family home? Do you have no backyard, a small backyard, or a large spacious backyard? In order to provide an environment in which your dog will thrive, you should research the exercise requirements of the breeds or mixes that you are interested in. It will be best for your family and your dog to try matching your family’s lifestyle with your dog’s requirements.

Activity Requirements Necessary for Your Dog’s Well-being

For example, if you have decided you really prefer larger breeds but your family is not very physically active, you should research large breeds that do not require a lot of activity. You should at least be willing to walk your dog every day and play with her and keep her inside your home with you. If you have a large yard, you can throw a ball or a toy for your dog to give her some attention and activity. But some dogs do require less activity than others, even large breeds.

Greyhound running
The Greyhound is part of the Hound Group

One example of a large breed dog that is likely to be a couch potato is the Greyhound. There are many breed rescue groups for retired racing greyhounds. This is a great place to go to adopt a beautiful, large-breed couch potato. Greyhounds are a large breed that does not require as much activity as most large breeds. They are quite happy just lying on the couch much of the time. They do need a good sprint now and then but a trip to a dog park now and then should take care of this. Your greyhound will need daily walks as well. They make great family pets for the less active family. If you don’t have a spacious backyard, a dog park is a good place to take your dog for activity and socialization with other dogs.

On the other hand, if you are an active family that enjoys camping and hiking and want to take your dog with you when you go on your hiking adventures, there are many active breeds that would be very happy with this lifestyle.

Of course, along with requiring a lot of activity, these dogs might become destructive if left alone every day while you have to work. If your family is active, be sure it is the type of activity that your dog can be included in. For example, if you are a family in which everybody either works full-time or goes to school full-time, your dog will most likely not be included in these activities.

If you do still want an active dog breed such as herding, sporting, or working breed, be sure you have the time to devote to your dog so you can keep her busy when you have other obligations. If you have to leave your dog alone all day, consider daycare for your dog. As with everything else, be sure it is a reputable daycare that provides experienced people to prevent dog fights. Also, be sure that the daycare you select requires proof of vaccinations so your dog won’t be exposed to any illnesses.

Differences within Dog Breeds


Research can point you in the right direction but one thing to remember is that every dog is different. Even though a breed of dog may have characteristics of being lazy and not requiring a lot of activity or the other way around, there can always be differences between dogs within the same breed.

Are you ready for dog ownership?

So the best thing you can do is to try to find a way to spend time around a particular breed of dog or mix that you are interested in. Reputable dog breeders, Rescue Groups, and Shelters should be happy to have you come around and spend time with their dogs and ask them questions about the needs of the breed or breed mix.

Consider Your Family Budget, is there Room for a Dog?

Keeping your dog healthy requires a financial commitment. Your dog will require any vaccinations recommended for your location. Vaccination recommendations can vary depending upon where you live. However, ensuring your dog’s ongoing health will also require medications to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworm. These medications are quite costly so before you commit to dog ownership verify that these expenses are within your budget

One way to look into what health problems are common in certain the various breeds is to research what are the most healthy dog breeds. Also, a mixed-breed dog is a mixture of various breeds so these same breed health factors can also affect your mixed-breed dog. If you decide to adopt a dog from a shelter, or breed rescue group be sure the shelter or rescue group is reputable and that your prospective pet doesn’t have any health issues when you first bring him home. Most reputable, breeders, shelters, and rescue organizations will allow you to have a free veterinary exam before you commit to adoption.

Preparing Your Home for a Dog

If this is your first dog, then you will need to prepare for your new dog by purchasing a few necessities so you will be ready for her arrival. Most likely you will know in advance the dog you will be adopting or purchasing so you will be able to determine what size collar to get her. You will also need a leash, food and water bowls, and some dog or puppy toys. Just a word of advice with the toys. Just start out with a few different types of toys so you can determine what type of toys your dog really loves.

You should also get a crate for your new dog. Dogs that are crate trained love their crates as the crate is a place where they can relax and feel safe. You will also need to invest in some puppy pads for housebreaking if you are not sure whether your new dog is housebroken just purchase a few puppy pads. If your new dog is a puppy, you will need plenty of them.

High-Quality Food is a Necessity

Before you do this talk to the shelter, rescue group, or breeder about what they recommend you feed your dog. When bringing your dog home for the first time you should be provided with food your dog is currently eating. If you are starting out with a puppy, then this will most likely be puppy food. Get a recommendation for high-quality adult dog food to transition your puppy from where you got your pup.

Puppies should be fed puppy food until they have finished growing into their full size. This will vary by breed with small and medium-sized puppies growing faster than the large and giant breeds. Small and medium-sized puppies stop growing at around 9 months. Large breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, mature at around 15 months. The giant breeds, such as Great Danes and Newfoundlands are not mature until 18 to 24 months of age. If you have received different information from your puppy’s breeder you should check with your vet which information to follow.

Training is another Consideration

It’s going to take some time for your new dog to adjust to her new environment. Dogs can become very stressed from living in a shelter, no matter how reputable the shelter is. Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult dog, she may need house training, if she is not already. She will also need time to get comfortable with you and your family members.

Border terrier in dog agility
Border Terriers have no shortage of energy. Be sure to keep them busy
or they might select alternate activities.

Train your new dog right away to get her more trusting of you. Also, when training your dog, be sure to train her using a positive reinforcement technique. Teach her the rules of your home and how your family expects him to behave. Develop a consistent daily routine to make your dog more comfortable as he settles in. Dogs thrive with routines. Consistency, stability, and predictability are what will keep your dog’s anxiety to a minimum during the early days.

Understanding Your Dog’s Needs

You will develop an excellent relationship with your dog through Positive Reinforcement Training. You will learn to communicate with your dog and better understand her body language when you use positive reinforcement training. Dogs need human interaction as well as interaction with other animals. Be sure to play with your dog and interact with her. Kong treat toys and puzzle toys help keep your dog’s mind sharp and interested in everything around her.

Be sure to play with her and provide her with the opportunity to get as much exercise as she needs.

Get Your New Dog Microchipped

A microchip could be the difference between finding your dog if she gets out and losing her forever. It’s a quick and painless way to ensure your location information is always with your dog or puppy. Your vet can microchip your dog quickly and it will be well worth it.

Final Thoughts

Maybe it sounds like I am making too big of a deal about getting a dog. But I think it is a big deal. You should consider whether you are really ready for the commitment to dog ownership. Also, you should have all of the knowledge necessary to determine whether you are ready.

I think it’s horrible when dogs get returned to shelters, especially if a dog is dumped in some killing shelter. That is an outcome nobody should ever even consider.

Please feel free to leave any comments below or ask any questions that you may have. I hope to hear from you!

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