5 Things New Dog Owners Should Know.

Advice for New Dog Owners.

It seems like just yesterday I was innocently browsing PetFinder.com when I spotted Callie – she was only 8 weeks old and had been dumped outside of a high kill shelter in rural Georgia and was absolutely adorable… I instantly knew I needed to have her. We already had a few dogs at home (my dad is a veterinarian so we’ve always had at least one dog!) but I was in my senior year of college and ready to officially have a dog of my own for my post-grad life. When I arrived at Callie’s foster home and picked her up, she immediately nuzzled into my neck and confirmed my feelings that this was the perfect dog for me.

Advice for New Dog Owners.

Seven years later and that could not be more true! Callie’s been by my side through landing my first job, moving into my first apartment and moving out to Chicago and California – she’s such a great dog with so much personality and I honestly cannot imagine life without her!

While dogs add so much to our lives, they can also be a lot of work and require serious commitment. Callie is pretty laid back at home these days but can still be handful and had some major attitude in her puppy years (it’s the terrier side of her!). Since I know it’s all too easy to fall in love with a puppy and dive in headfirst, I wanted to share a little bit of advice for new dog owners and a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over my lifetime of living with dogs:

Advice for New Dog Owners.

1. Dogs are for life: First and foremost, before you even think about getting a dog… Commit to having them for 15+ years. Period. Regardless of life changes, your dog is a commitment and should be truly part of your family. When I volunteered in a shelter in Chicago it was eye opening and heartbreaking to see how many pups were there as owner surrenders, for reasons as silly as “lost interest”, “move” or “lack of time” and these dogs were totally heartbroken. Be ready for a long-term commitment and able to give your dog the love and attention it deserves throughout its entire life. Dogs also happen to be expensive, so plan accordingly! Vet bills, pet sitters, and pet supplies can add up so look beyond the initial adoption fee or price from your breeder and make sure you’re prepared financially.

2. Nix bad habits early: Sure, puppies are cute and their accidents, barks, or nips might not seem like a big deal but these bad habits will be far less cute once your dog is grown up! Invest in early training and take things seriously when your dog is young or when the dog first enters your household – routines and consistent training is important to create a well-behaved dog. If you have multiple people in your household, discuss your training plans with everyone to make sure you’re all on the same page, especially with things like barking, potty training and obedience.

Advice for New Dog Owners.

3. Invest in good food: Not all dog foods are created equal – seriously, I’d rather cook Callie a homemade meal than feed her dog food you can get in a typical grocery store. Just as humans pay attention to ingredients and food labels, we should be doing the same to look out for our pups. Feeding your dog quality dog food is an investment in their health – I recently switched Callie over to Petcurean’s newest line of food, GATHER, which is made from certified, non-GMO, organic ingredients that have been sustainably produced. She LOVES it (seriously, she’s become rather demanding about when it’s time to get fed!) and it’s amazing to know that we’re feeding her the best food around to help keep her healthy.

4. Adopt, don’t shop: I grew up with purebred dogs and even did dog shows for awhile so I get it if you think you’re set on a certain breed and need to purchase your pup from a breeder but it’s crazy how many great dogs there are available for adoption that truly need homes. Shelters across the country are full of every type of dog imaginable, from puppies to purebreds, so do your research and consider adopting to help save a life. Callie was my family’s first rescue dog and I’m proud to say that my family has adopted 4 dogs and 4 cats since!

Advice for New Dog Owners.

5. Exercise matters: A tired dog is a happy dog! Many behavioral issues stem from insufficient exercise – even if you have a large yard, make an effort to take your dog for a walk or play fetch for a few minutes every day to make sure they’re actually moving around. As an apartment dweller, we’re really focused on making sure Callie gets outside often enough and is active enough to make sure she stays fit and doesn’t get overweight. She’s always her happiest after a trip to the park!

What are some of your dog ownership tips? Anyone planning on adding a pup to your home soon?

This post was sponsored by Petcurean as part of an ongoing partnership and as always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own – authenticity is a top priority and I only partner with brands I truly love. Thank you for supporting the brands that partner with Pretty & Fun!

  • GREAT post, and I share the same name as your adorable girl! Thank you for sharing for all the people who need to hear these things. I love my 2 pups as my own children, and follow the same rules. :)

  • These are smart tips! I’m thinking of getting a puppy soon, and I need all the advice I can get. Any tips on selecting the right match/breed?

    • Hi Emily! I’d definitely do some research into different breed personalities but also keep an open mind and know that training and how you raise the dog is really what shapes their behavior overall. Mutts are also always a good idea because they tend to be a blend of a several breeds so you get a variety of traits.

  • Amie Scroggins

    I’m in San Francisco, one of the most dog-friendly cities I’ve ever come across! I cannot wait until I get a house and fill it with dogs. Ha. Great post!

    • Saaaame. Life goals are to have a farm with a bunch of dogs and horses ;)

  • Callie looks like such a sweet pup! These are such good reminders for anyone who is looking at getting a dog. Right now, my boyfriend and I are thinking about getting a second pup but we also want to make sure we have the time and space to accommodate two dogs. Raising a puppy is just like raising a child!

  • Aww, how adorable is your dog?! Number 1 is so true it hurts haha. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard of someone who got a dog only to return it a month later because “it didn’t fit in with their lifestyle.” I think it should be socially acceptable to slap someone if they hurt a dog lol.

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlife.com

  • Vincent Carabeo

    Preach! I wish I was more prepared when I first got my puppy. Definitely agree on getting rid of the bad habits early on. It’s tough when you don’t do it very early. Thanks for sharing this piece!

  • These are such good tips! Especially #2, my boyfriend and I recently moved in together and combined our dogs and it was rough going at first (one was very trained and one was a not-so-trained puppy). We have both always had dogs and always will! Callie is so precious!