New dog owner? Wondering what the must-knows are about doggie diet, healthcare and exercise? Whether you’re bringing home your first puppy or have opened up your home and heart to a rescue dog, here are our top tips for new dog owners to have a happy-ever-after together…
A happy life together starts with choosing the right best friend. Will you adopt a rescue dog or puppy? Or is your heart set on a specific breed? If you haven’t already brought your new dog home, you might find our guide to choosing and raising the perfect puppy helpful. Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to think about what your new dog will need for a happy, healthy life. We’ve split this blog into sections to help: settling in, exercise, diet, and building your bond through training and activities.
What will you need to buy and before your dog or puppy comes home?
There are 5 practical things to think about as soon as you bring your new dog home. Double check you’ve sorted the doggie essentials…
There are also lots of practical tips about settling in on our new puppy blog here – puppy tips work for adult dogs too, as you very much can teach old dogs new tricks!
It’s really exciting to welcome home a new dog, but building a good relationship takes time and effort from day one. It’s a good idea to join a training class to get some practical tips with this – and have fun learning new things – but here are the basics.
Dogs are pack animals, and can get very dependent on human attention. It’s a good idea to follow some simple rules to avoid behaviour problems down the line.
It’s also a good idea to teach polite greeting – when you come home only say hello if your dog is quiet. If your dog is excited or greets you over-enthusiastically, ignore until they settle, then say hello.
How important is exercise for dogs?
In a word, very. As well as keeping your dog physically fit and at a healthy weight, exercise stimulates your dog’s mind, too. Imagine how bored you might get if you were cooped up indoors all day with no mates, no TV and no internet – that’s how home-alone dogs can feel, which can lead to unhappiness and behavioural problems.
Physically fit in five – the basics for all dogs
If your new dog is just a pup, you might also find our guide to puppy walks useful: Top puppy walking tips from Lintbells. It covers all the essentials, including early socialisation and practical training tips.
You love your new dog or pup to bits, and are 100% prepared to do your best by them – but have you thought about the wider community? As dog owners, we need to be careful that our best friends don’t cause headaches for others.
Always pick up the poo
It may not be pleasant, but it’s the right thing to do. Buy biodegradable bags if you can, and pick up wherever you are – that includes countryside walkies. Don’t hang bags on fence posts or trees if there isn’t a handy bin. It’s a nasty habit, and livestock can eat these bags with fatal consequences. It’s also a good idea to learn the Countryside Code.
Train a reliable recall
There’s a guide further down this blog – don’t let your dog become an embarrassing, potentially dangerous pest like the infamous Fenton!
Don’t expect everyone to share the love
Not everyone is a dog person. And that’s OK. As dog owners, we have a responsibility to make sure the people around us are happy and comfortable too – so don’t let your dog jump up on people or furniture, and be mindful that some people are scared of dogs.
A dog wearing yellow means ‘give me space’ – responsible dog owners respect this signal and stay away. Though your puppy or dog may be happy around others, don’t forget not to let them approach other ‘yellow dogs’ or dogs who are on their lead if your dog is off the lead. Though your new best friend may be friendly, the dog they approach might not be!
What should dogs eat?
Dogs are omnivores, so should eat a mix of protein (meat or fish), carbohydrates (starchy foods) and nutrient-dense fruit and veg. Thankfully, it’s easy to meet their nutritional needs with a good quality complete food.
Three doggie diet must-dos
Consider their age and activity level, and make sure they’re on an appropriate puppy, adult, working dog or older dog mix. Do your research, read reviews and talk to your rescue centre, vet or vet nurse if you need extra advice. We’re always happy to talk about doggie diets too!
Digestive episodes and dogs
One of the most common experiences the families of new dogs talk to us about is grumbling tummies. There are many reason a dog’s tum may not be feeling 100% when they change homes, including change of food, change of environment and dietary intolerances – however probiotics can really help. Learn more here.
Dogs and human food
Sharing the family dinner with the dog isn’t a good idea, both in terms of nutritional balance and calories. A sausage to a medium-sized dog is the equivalent of one and a half choccie bars to a person, and may contain ingredients that aren’t good for dogs, like onion, preservatives and spices – find out more about doggie diet no-nos in this blog.
Building your bond
The best way to train your dog, make new doggie friends and learn about all things dog is to find a really good training class. Your vet or vet nurse will be able to suggest the best ones in your area – make sure the trainers only use positive, reward-based methods though. Classes are great as they give your dog or puppy the opportunity to socialise with other dogs, but you can also go it alone. We’ll be adding more training tips to our blog in coming months, but let’s start with recall. Recall – or coming when called – can be the most challenging piece of training you’ll do with your dog. But it’s also the most important, as it gives your dog freedom and keeps them safe.
Pick up a new doggie hobbie
There are lots of fantastic activities you can enjoy with your new dog, and it’s a great way to build your bond. Always be mindful of your dog’s age, breed and any health concerns before starting a new activity, and have a chat with your vet or vet nurse if in doubt, but here are some ideas to get you started...
Enjoy intellectual pursuits?
Get your head around clicker training. Working out the process and designing and practicing new tricks is a great brain workout for dogs and their people!
Love a serious physical challenge?
Try CaniCross, a long distance running sport where dogs and their people are a team.
Enjoy high-octane team sports?
Try flyball. It’s fast, furiously good fun, and a great way to meet new doggie friends.
Want to build a really strong bond?
Agility is a brilliant way to improve your connection whilst getting fit and having fun as part of a welcoming community. Doggie dancing – AKA Canine Freestyle – is another great sport for you. Whatever you decide to try together, remember that the most important thing is to have lots of fun!
We hope you’ve found our new dog owner tips useful, and would love to meet your new best friend on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’ve got some doggie pics and videos to share, you’ll make our day! And if you have a question, please do pop it in the comments below...
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