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First Time Dog Owner Guide | Should I Get a Dog?
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First Time Dog Owner Guide | Should I Get a Dog?

We know that welcoming a new canine companion into your family is an incredibly exciting time! However, it can also be quite daunting. There are a lot of things to consider before you bring home your new furry friend, and adopting a dog is not a decision that should be made lightly. For those considering becoming first-time dog paw-rents, we have got the break down of everything you need to know about getting a dog, caring for them, and all the necessary supplies you will need...


Reasons for Getting a Dog

Before you look into bringing home a dog or a puppy, it is really important to consider the reason you would like to get a dog. Now, there are hundreds of reasons why people love dogs and would like to have one as part of their family, but what are yours? Some great reasons for adopting a dog include;

  • You enjoy the company of dogs and would love a faithful companion of your own
  • You enjoy running or hiking and would love a fluffy companion by your side
  • You would like to be more active and having a dog depending on you would help
  • You have children and would like them to experience the joys and responsibilities of pet ownership 
  • To help you be more mindful and present in your day to day life
  • To help you be more social and less isolated
  • To provide companionship and improve your quality of life
  • To provide unconditional love to an animal that loves you back 
  • To support animal welfare and provide a home for an animal in need
  • To become part of a connected community of dog paw-rents

However, some people also wish to adopt a dog for the wrong reasons. You should rethink adopting a dog if:

  • You are mostly interested in having a puppy. Whilst puppies are very cute, they are a lot of work and they won't be a puppy for very long! Your dog will grow quickly, so only adopt them if you’re prepared to take care of them for the rest of their life
  • You want a dog because all of your friends also have dogs. Whilst it is nice to have things in common with your friends, be sure to consider if this is something you really want for yourself
  • You don’t have enough space for your dog, especially if they are a larger breed or if they are very energetic
  • You don't have the time to train them. There are a lot of thing dogs need to learn and teaching them these things takes a lot of time and dedication
  • You work a lot and won't have the time to bond with them. Dogs shouldn't be left alone for more than 4 hours at a time, so it is important to consider if you have the time for a pup
  • You don't have a stable income. Unfortunately, dogs can be expensive. From food and treats to vet visits, insurance costs, worming, flea treatments, grooming and more. There are lots of expenses that come along with owning a dog and it is vital to consider if you can comfortably afford these
  • You aren't willing to stand by your dog if they develop behavioural or health issues. All dogs can become unwell, and this can be incredibly challenging to deal with as an owner, consider whether you would be able to stay by your dogs side through thick and thin 

It is important to think about your reasons for pursuing dog ownership before going through with adopting a pup. It’s wonderful that you are considering giving a dog a forever home, but it is vital to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. 


The Responsibilities of Owning a Dog

As with any pet, owning a dog comes with some major responsibilities. These are things that you will have to do every day to ensure the health and happiness of your canine companion. This includes (but is not limited to);

  • Feeding them a nutritious meal at least once a day
  • Making sure they have fresh, clean drinking water everyday
  • Picking up their poo at home and on walks
  • Having to purchase toys, medications and other essentials
  • Keep their flea, tick and worming treatments up to date
  • Playing with them everyday 
  • Taking them on a walk at least once a day
  • Keep on top of their grooming, making sure their claws are cut and teeth are clean

Dogs require a lot of attention, and are a more hands-on pet than other common pets like cats or small animals. Owning a dog is a lot more like having a human child because of the time and attention they require! 


Getting a Dog

When choosing a dog, it is important to consider your own lifestyle, the needs of the dog and most importantly, animal welfare.

You may choose to purchase a puppy or a dog from a breeder. If you choose this option, it is vital to find a reputable breeder to ensure you are not supporting a puppy mill or someone with poor animal welfare practises. Buying a puppy takes far more research than adoption,  On 6 April 2020, Lucy’s Law was introduced which bans the sale of puppies or kittens in England from third parties or ‘middle men’, meaning that anyone looking to get a new animal should have to go directly to a breeder or a rescue or rehoming centre. Battersea have a fantastic guide on the most ethical ways to purchase a puppy hereFurther advice on this can be found at The Puppy Contract and Get Your Pet Safely.

We highly recommend adopting a dog, as there are so many wonderful pups just waiting for their fur-ever home. If you're unsure about the process of adopting a dog, we have a step-by-step guide here. Whether you are looking for a puppy, an older dog or even a specific breed, there is a rescue centre out there with the perfect dog for you. Some people may have some reservations about adopting a dog from a shelter, but rescuing a dog is one of the most selfless, exciting things you can do! Rescue centres are committed to the welfare of the animals they re-home, and so they will help to make the transition into pet pawrenthood as simple as possible. 

Also make sure you do your research into different breeds of dogs. Some are more susceptible to ongoing health problems such as pugs, french bulldogs and dachshunds. Different breeds of dog will all have different temperaments and natural behaviours, some may have lots of energy and require more regular exercise whilst others may be more reserved and prefer peace and quiet. Doing your research into the traits of different breeds of dog will help you in deciding which dog is right for you. 


What You Need Before You Get a Dog

Before you bring your new family member home, you're going to want to make sure you have everything they will need. Getting hold of everything you need for your new canine companion can be costly, so be sure to look out for secondhand options where appropriate. 

Crate and Bed

For starters, you’ll need to get your dog a crate and bed. Many people choose to crate train their dogs to allow them a safe, secure environment when they need to be left alone. Crate training is ideal since it gives your dog a secure place where they can feel comfortable and calm. Once your dog is crate trained, they will want to retreat there if they are ever socially or physically overwhelmed. The crate becomes a safe place for your dog once they’re used to it. A comfy bed is also essential so that your new best friend has somewhere to sleep and relax. Don't forget, dogs sleep an average of 12-14 hours a day so it is very important that your canine companion has a comfortable place to relax. 


Walking Kit

Every dog needs to go walkies, so make sure you have everything you need before you bring your furry friend home. Most dogs need at least 1-2 walks a day so this is probably going to be the most important purchase you make for your new pup. We recommend you get a good quality lead, collar and harness for your new companion. Don't forget to get them an ID tag too, these are a legal requirement here in the UK. When your dog is young or whilst you're still getting used to one another, a harness is a better option for walking them as it distributes the pressure from the lead across their body, making the risk of injury far smaller. Hiro + Wolf harnesses are fully adjustable to allow for a custom fit and have a lightly padded chest plate to keep your dog comfortable all day long. Handsfree Leads are also an excellent option, allowing for greater control of your pup whilst they are still learning. These clever, multi-use leads always come in clutch when out and about with your pooch. Oh, and don't forget your poo bags! We keep ours in a handy pouch so that they're always to hand.


Toys and Treats

Every dog needs toys to keep them entertained! Not all dogs play the same way, so we suggest getting your new dog a few different types of toys before you find out what it is that they really love. Toys work as both a distraction and entertainment for your dog so make sure to find things that they really love. We suggest looking for durable toys that are made from safe, natural materials. Hiro + Wolf felt dog toys are hand crafted from strong, sustainable materials, and are perfect for getting your teeth stuck into. Natural materials are a great option as they are far safer for your dog to play with and are less likely to cause injury or sickness. Tug toys are a great option for a starter toy as they allow for self-play, tug of war, fetch and more. Treats are, of course, another essential, especially when training your new dog. There are so many delicious, nutritious treats on the market, you're sure to find something your pup loves. We highly recommend Grub Club, Denzel's, Scrumbles and W'Zis for treats your canine companion is sure to chase their tail for! 


Food and Bowls

Getting your dog the right food is key to ensure they grow up healthily and stay that way for years to come. There are lots of different diets out there that may work best for you and your pup. Raw feeding is increasingly popular and can have many health benefits, though it can be more time-consuming than other ways of feeding. If your dog has specific health requirement they may need a special diet, this is something you should consult with your vet about. Different breeds of dog also require different things from their food for optimal health. Generally speaking, food with few, natural ingredients is always best. Dogs are omnivores, so a well-rounded diet is ideal. You will need to work out how much your dog eats per day based on their weight. Commercial foods generally have this information printed on the packaging, but if you're ever unsure about how much you should be feeding your new pup, it is best to ask your vet. Make sure to get your dog specific bowls for their food and water. Not only is this important for hygiene reasons, it can also help them to understand when mealtimes are and curb some scavenging tendencies. 


An Appointment for Neutering 

Some pet parents don’t see the purpose of neutering their new pup, but this is important regardless of breed or age. Neutering will ensure that you and your canine companion never have to deal with the problems of an unexpected pregnancy. Female dogs, in particular, should be spayed so they don’t accidentally become pregnant, at which point you’ll have to decide what to do with the new puppies. On top of that, neutering your dog helps keep the number of homeless pet animals down. Currently there are an estimated 100,000 dogs without homes in the UK, preventing unwanted litters of puppies is a great way to prevent this number growing. Neutering is a safe procedure that vets perform regularly. There are a number of health benefits to your pup too, these include;

  • Neutering male dogs significantly reduces the chance of them getting prostate disease and reduces the risk of some cancers
  • Neutering female dogs reduces the risk of them getting breast cancer (known as ‘mammary cancer’ in dogs) which can be fatal. There is also evidence to suggest that spaying before two and a half years may reduce the risk the most.
  • Neutering your female dog eliminates the risk of an infection of the womb (called pyometra), which studies show affects up to a quarter of unneutered female dogs and can be fatal. If your dog is suffering from pyometra and needs to be spayed as part of treatment, this will be more expensive than spaying a healthy dog. The risks of the surgery are also likely to be much greater.
  • Pregnancy and birth can be risky to female dogs.
  • Many unneutered female dogs have a false pregnancy after a season and, although this is natural, it can cause ongoing behavioural and medical problems.

(Source: Blue Cross)

You can find out more about neutering your dog here.


How to Settle Your New Dog

By taking the steps to make sure your new dog or puppy feels safe, secure and welcome in their new space they will settle much quicker and feel more confident. Bringing home your new canine companion is exciting! But it is important to remember that your dog may be feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed. A new environment full of different smells and new people can be a little daunting at first. Because of this, you should take things slowly in the first few weeks so that your dog has time to adapt. Here are a few tips that can help your new dog to settle in when you first bring them home;

  • Don't put pressure on them to do too much straight away. It’s natural to be excited about finally having your dog home, but they need chance to get used to you and their new family first, so you should try and avoid having visitors for the first few days at least.
  • Give them a safe space. To help your dog get used to their environment on their own terms, make sure they have a safe space where they can take themselves away to if they need some quiet time. This could be a bed, a spare room, a crate, or anywhere your dog can retreat to for some peace.
  • Start as you mean to go on. If you have any household rules that you expect your dog to abide by, these need to be set up from day one as a bad habit can be hard to break. For example, if you don’t want your dog to go on the sofa, that rule needs to be in place from the get go.
  • Let them settle at their own pace. Some dogs are more adaptable to new environments that others, and it is important to allow your dog the time that they need to settle into things. If initially they want to spend some time by themselves, that’s fine, and most importantly, it’s not personal.


As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when you’re adopting a dog for the first time. Even if you’ve never owned a dog before, you can still be a fantastic pet parent and give your pup a forever home they deserve. And in return you will have a friend for life. 

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