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.
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:
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.
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!
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!