19 Tips for First-Time Dog Owners

Congratulations on welcoming a dog into your home and family. You’re embarking upon an exciting adventure. To ensure your success, let’s dig right into our top 19 tips for first-time dog owners.

1. Puppy Proof Your Home

Whether your new fur baby is a puppy or a grown dog, these tips to puppy-proof your home will keep both your dog and your belongings safe.

2. Respect Your Pet’s Doghood

Yes, she’s your buddy, and of course, she’s family. But she’s also a dog, and she needs you to recognize and respect that she’s a dog. As Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, says, “Some people around dogs treat a dog like a human. Changing the identity of anybody creates instability.” And, “If you respect their identity, dogs give you respect back.” Embrace your pups’ doghood!

3. Do Your Research

How can first-time dog owners understand dogs or know what to expect? Do plenty of research. There are terrific resources online about dogs and the different needs of specific breeds. Investigate online training classes with The Online Dog Trainer.

Jack Russell Terrier chewing shoes

4. Understand Chewing Behavior

As you’ll quickly learn, all dogs chew. Chewing behavior is essential for your pup’s health and well-being. Chewing exercises jaw muscles cleans teeth, and alleviates stress and anxiety. Therefore, provide chew toys, and vet-recommended dog chews to encourage healthy non-destructive chewing.

5. Find a Vet Before You Need One

Get your dog’s first checkup before you have any problems. First-time dog owners can learn a great deal from their veterinarian, from the best dog food to finding a recommended trainer in the area. Prices and policies vary, so look around.

Related read: Tips For Finding a Good Vet For Your Dog

6. Invest in Your Dog’s Well-Being

Start with nutritionally balanced dog food and provide safe chew toys and vet-recommended dog chews. These make terrific treats for training sessions and encouraging good behavior. Commit to the recommended schedule of checkups and routine vaccinations.

7. Microchip for Peace of Mind

Get your dog microchipped, so she’ll always have your contact information and vital medical records with her. Should your pupster ever go wandering, a microchip will help her to return home safely.

Exercising the dog

8. Keep Moving

Daily exercise is critical for your dog’s health, well-being, and good behavior. Dr. Susan Nelson, K-State veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences, says, “Dogs also need an outlet to relieve their energy or else they may develop destructive behavior. Your dog is going to be happier and more content if it receives adequate exercise.”

9. Dog Training, Early and Often

First-time dog owners may be surprised to learn that training provides a special bond between you and your dog. It makes communication between you much clearer. Your dog will be happier and more confident when she better understands your expectations.

10. Reward Good Behavior

Your attention is gratifying for your pet. Don’t ignore your dog until it starts acting out, and then you end up yelling at your pup for the bad behavior. Responding this way will only reward the unacceptable behavior. Instead, praise, pet, play, and offer tasty, vet-recommended dog chews to reinforce good behavior in your dog.

11. Rotate Toys and Chews

Keep your dog’s toys and chews fun and interesting by rotating them, so they always seem fresh. If your dog has six toys, give your canine a different set of four toys to play with each day. If she loves dog chews made from chicken meat, try adding different flavors or new shapes and textures.

Young woman bonding with her puppy

12. Teach Your Dog to Welcome Touch

Get your dog used to being touched on her head, muzzle, ears, legs, belly, and paws. Touch your pup gently, purposefully, and with love. When she is comfortable being touched, vet visits and health care will be a breeze.

13. Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Grooming

If your dog is fearful of the brush, lay it on the floor with a treat and a chew toy and let her explore. When she’s comfortable with the brush, move slowly to touch the bristles to her fur. Brush gently, with plenty of encouragement and a few tasty treats to smooth the way.

14. Train in Calm (Read Boring) Conditions

First-time dog owners may think obedience training at the dog park sounds fun, but it will be hard for your dog to concentrate with so many distractions. Set your dog up for success by training in a quiet room with no toys or distractions present.

Girl training cute Husky puppy

15. Consistency is Key

Consistency is critical to communicating clearly with your dog. If “No” or “Leave it” is your stop command, stick with it. Adding phrases like “Stop it,” “Quit it,” or “Knock it off” will just confuse your pup.

16. Don’t Create Future Bad Habits

Puppies are so cute; it’s easy to tolerate exuberant jumping and face-licking. But doing so teaches your dog this is good behavior. If you don’t want your adult dog doing something, stop it with the puppy.

17. Get the Entire Family on Board

Share the house rules with every family member, so you all use the same words, commands, and limits for your dog’s behavior. Let each member offer vet-recommended dog chews to reward good behavior.

18. Socialize Your Dog

Dogs are social animals who enjoy being with others, both dogs and people. The more experienced your dog is at greeting and meeting others, the better these interactions will go.

Fox Terrier tugging the rope playing

19. Designate a Space for Play

Happy, healthy dogs play. They romp and chase and dig. Set aside a place where your dog can play safely without causing damage or disruption. Incorporate tug toys your pup can play with and provide shade and clean water for resting afterward.

Final Thoughts

With these tips for first-time dog owners, you'll be prepared to form and enjoy one of the most rewarding relationships of your life. 

Our friends over at NutriChomps, pride themselves on understanding dogs and their unique needs. They formulate and manufacture delicious, vet-recommended dog chews with the same quality ingredients you feed the rest of your family.

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