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Tips for New Dog Owners

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Yellow Labrador with a red collar

2020 has proved to be a year that none of us could have predicted and that none of us will forget ...ever! I’ve always considered myself to be a half glass full kind of person, but admittedly that has been challenging these days. While none of us will ever understand the purpose of the Covid-19 “experience”, I’ve tried to focus on some of the positives that have been a result of this pandemic. One of those positives has been the “dog boom” as I like to call it, resulting in a slew of new dog owners.

With so many families stuck at home, pet stores, shelters, private breeders and nonprofit organizations have all reported record breaking demand. They’ve all reported more consumer demand than there were dogs and puppies to fill it! There’s nothing quite like a wet kiss and wagging tail to soothe the soul- something we all need as we ride out the Corona wave.

With so many first time dog parents out there, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips!

Prepare in Advance

Whether your new canine companion is an adult or a puppy, there will almost certainly be an adjustment period for both of you. Dogs are often overwhelmed and anxious when going to a new home for the first time- especially rescues. Some pups might feel right at home within a few days, but others might need more time to adjust. Adult dogs usually take more time to adjust; while puppies typically require more training. No matter what, it's usually several months before you and your pup will settle into a routine. Prepare in advance and be patient.

Key Essentials

You’re going to want to make sure that you have all the necessities before bringing your new friend home. A few things that should be on your shopping list include: a collar and I.D. tag, leash/harness, crate, chew toys (especially for puppies), exercise pen or baby gates, food, treats, food and water bowls, etc. I cannot recommend Chewy enough for all these supplies and so much more!

Puppy Proofing Your Home

Folks in the throes of puppyhood are probably realizing that as adorable as puppies are… they aren’t easy! From “puppy proofing” your house to training and socialization to vaccinationstaking care of a puppy can almost feel like a full-time job. I recommend doing your homework before bringing your puppy home as you’ll need to be ready for anything.

Puppies are similar to toddlers in that they are unbelievably inquisitive and will want to check out and investigate everything. Much like toddlers, they don’t know what is off limits or unsafe. If a puppy can put something in his mouth; he will. As strange as this sounds, walk around your home and try to look at it from your puppy’s point of view. Keep potentially toxic items like cleaning supplies, medicine, etc. stored up high or in a locked cabinet. Keep your shoes in a closet (unless you want Fido treating your Louboutin as his new favorite chew toy!) Garbage cans should have lids, electrical cords should be out of reach, fragile knickknacks should be put on higher shelves… you get the picture.

Happy Golden Retriever laying in orange pet bed in pet store


There’s no reason not to start teaching your canine companion good behavior from day one! Let your new friend know the house rules right away and make sure your family is all on the same page so that you can stay consistent with the “do’s” and “don’ts”. With puppies the biggest hurdle will probably be potty training. The best way to tackle this is to establish a timeline and stick to it. You’re also going to want to let your pup know where you expect him to do his business (crates and puppy pads can be very useful here!) Start each day off with the same routine: wake up, get your puppy out of the crate and outside to go potty.

Sticking to routine as much as possible with your new canine companion (puppy or adult) will go a long way when easing everyone into a routine. Positive reinforcement-based training is a great way to encourage good behavior in all dogs. If you find that you’re struggling or just need a little help; consider enlisting your puppy in puppy “kindergarten” (essentially a training class) or doggy “daycare” for older dogs to help with discipline and socializing.

Smiling Husky gets a check-at the vet

Vet Care

One of the first places you should take your new dog is to see the vet. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a veterinarian that you love! Your vet will look out for your dog's health, educate you and help you navigate the wonderful world of dog parenthood. Depending on your pup’s age, this visit might only be for a physical exam and weigh in or he might get his first round of vaccines. It’s also a good idea to know the location of the nearest 24 hour emergency clinic.

Posh Pets has a great network of Veterinarians in Northern Virginia; if you need help finding a vet for your pet- please email us!

Pet Insurance

I also strongly recommend getting pet health insurance. While the cost for a routine check-up might not break the bank, a serious health problem, tests, surgeries and medications do add up! I say, if you wouldn’t be able to afford a major medical procedure and you don’t want this to be a factor in deciding your pet’s fate- get the insurance. Investopedia has a great breakdown of the nine best insurance plans of 2020. With pets living longer these days, your chances of using pet insurance are higher than ever. At the end of the day, if you purchase pet insurance and don’t use it, consider yourself blessed!

So while the current crisis hasn’t really given anyone a lot to smile about, I think we can all agree that wet noses, slobbery kisses and wagging tails definitely help!

Brittany Spaniel poses for the camera while sitting at this owner's side

If you have any positive stories you’d like to share or any additional resources, please share them with us on our Facebook page!

For additional tips for new dog owners or to learn more about our Services, please Contact us.


About the Author

The daughter of an award-winning travel writer, Kimberly has followed in her mother’s footsteps and has had articles been published in numerous publications. Kimberly got her first puppy from Santa Claus when she was four years old and has never known a life that didn’t include four legged family members. An animal advocate, she has rescued pets, volunteered at shelters and has even been known to nurse an injured sparrow back to health. When she’s not busy running a successful petcare business and providing care to her four legged customers, you can rest assured she is pampering her 19 year old kitty, Scout.

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