A Newbie Owner's Guide to Choosing and Caring for Their Pooch
Wed, April 14, 2021

A Newbie Owner's Guide to Choosing and Caring for Their Pooch

Owning a pet is both a privilege and a responsibility especially if you treat them not as animals but as members of the family / Photo by: Dmitrii Shironosov via 123RF

 

Owning a pet is both a privilege and a responsibility especially if you treat them not as animals but as members of the family, and it doesn’t matter if you want cats or dogs, although there are people who prefer both. For wannabe dog owners, you might want to consider which type of dog suits your home, family, and lifestyle, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a website that serves as the collective voice of the veterinary profession. This is because there are many, many cases of dogs being given up to shelters due to unfulfilled expectations. 

Hence, it is important for people planning to get a dog to make an informed decision. Think of the factors that may hinder you from having a dog as a pet. It could be allergies or difficulties in dealing with a dog’s behavior. Sure, dogs are a human being’s best friend and are friendly, entertaining, and intelligent. But if you haven’t had a pet dog before, you will need to think long and hard if one is indeed the right pet for you or your family. 

 

Choosing the Right Dog

It is recommended to do some research on how to choose a dog, said non-profit organization Best Friends Animal Society. Ask yourself if you will have the time to shower your dog with love and attention it needs and deserves. Can you offer it daily exercise and interaction with other dogs and people? Are you even financially prepared to handle the costs of responsibly owning a dog? 

Along with these questions are your emotional expectations. Keep them realistic because a dog is not a miniature furry person. Most importantly, you have to ensure that your pooch will be valued as a family member. Dogs don’t do well alone since they are social animals. Now, if you’re thinking of getting a puppy, remember that puppies need constant attention. Do you have to take care of one? If you’re gone for an extended period, are you willing to pay for a sitter? Puppies and mature dogs alike need to learn how to behave well. 

Consider how big and active your puppy will be. If you live in an apartment, a large dog is not a viable idea. If you love lounging on the couch, perhaps an older or a more sedentary dog would suit you. Of course, health is wealth. A healthy dog should have clear, bright eyes and a clean, shiny coat. It should not be thin or obese. A dog should also have no signs of illness such as diarrhea or nasal discharge. 

It is recommended to do some research on how to choose a dog, said non-profit organization Best Friends Animal Society / Photo by: Ian Dikhtiar via 123RF

 

Choosing Your Dog’s Breed

If you want a purebred dog, be sure to research on various breeds before making a choice. Dog breeds vary a bit in their temperament, activity level, and the amount of care they need. Note that every dog breed was created to serve a purpose. It can range from hunting to herding and guarding. Know the characteristics of the breed to see if it fits in your lifestyle. 

One disadvantage of getting a purebred dog is the risk of your pet having breed-specific health problems. For instance, labradors usually suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, while chihuahuas can be afflicted with hypoglycemia and heart problems. 

 

To Buy or Not to Buy

There are dogs available at your local shelter and rescue groups. You will also get an added bonus of saving a life if you choose to adopt a dog. Buying a dog from a pet store is not recommended since most stores get it from puppy mills and “backyard breeders.” This term refers to individuals who breed dogs for profit without any regard for their health or well-being.  

 

Proper Diet and Nutrition 

A healthy, balanced diet is crucial to your dog’s health, according to Jenna Stregowski of the pet website The Spruce Pets. Find out which food companies produce high-quality ingredients instead of fillers. Many companies offer free samples so you won’t have to buy a whole bag of something that is still unproven. Some offer a money-back guarantee if your pet doesn’t like the food. If you want to provide your pet with a homemade diet, consult your veterinarian on the ingredients to ensure they are appropriate for your dog. Don’t forget to let your pet have access to fresh, clean water. 

A healthy, balanced diet is crucial to your dog’s health, according to Jenna Stregowski of the pet website The Spruce Pets / Photo by: iakovenko via 123RF

 

Shelter and Training

Your dog should have its own dedicated space such as a bed or a kennel. This teaches your dog to respect its own space, including yours. Don’t leave your dog outside under extreme weather conditions as it may suffer from health consequences. 

Alternatively, it is also advisable to train and discipline your pooch. You can attend a training class with a professional instructor or train your pet by yourself. Ensure that the training program you will choose is suitable for your lifestyle and your dog’s needs. Establish yourself as a boss by reinforcing good behavior and humanely correcting misbehavior. Be consistent and you’ll see the fruits of your labor. It is advisable to bond with your pet each day to help maintain a strong human-canine relationship. You can have it play with toys or take it for a ride. 
Dogs should be treated as a valuable member of the family. They’re not just gifts you can throw when you get tired of them or when they become old and sickly. For first-time owners, taking care of a dog should be seen as an investment. Feel free to speak to a veterinarian regarding your dog’s needs or health. Enjoy your new pet!