5 Common Mistakes First-Time Dog Owners Make
Guest post by Jessica Brody, OurBestFriends.pet
When you think about getting your first dog, your mind probably goes to play sessions and adventures, not the responsibilities that go into owning a pet. But being unprepared can turn this exciting time into a stressful experience, especially for first-time dog owners. Make sure you do dog ownership right by avoiding these common mistakes.
1. Choosing a Dog for Looks, not Personality
There are so many wonderful dog breeds out there. From regal German Shepherds to loveable Welsh Corgis, many breeds are popular in part because of their appearance. However, picking the right dog is about more than a cute countenance and silky coat. Dogs have a wide range of personalities, and finding the pet that meshes with your lifestyle is essential for successful dog ownership.
Before you adopt, think about why you want a dog. Are you looking for a companion for cuddling on the couch, a high-energy hiking partner, or somewhere in between? Do you want to hunt, run, or play fetch? Different breeds have different personality types, and focusing on your wants will help you narrow in on the right one for you.
2. Buying a Puppy
Few things are cuter than a puppy, but raising an animal from infancy is a lot of work. Puppies require constant training and, since they can’t hold their bladder for long, their frequent bathroom breaks can mean weeks away from the office.
Puppies also come with a lot of up-front expenses: Between vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying or neutering, you could be facing several hundred dollars in vet bills within the first few months.
Adult dogs, on the other hand, are likely to have some basic obedience training at time of adoption. They’re settled into their personalities so it’s easy to tell if a dog meshes with your family, and they’re more mellow companions than a puppy.
3. Failing to Dog-Proof
In the excitement of bringing home a new pet, it’s easy to forget about all the things a curious dog could get into at home. But forgetting to puppy-proof can mean waking up to a disaster zone — dogs that are stressed out, experiencing separation anxiety, or simply curious can dig into trash cans, chew electrical wires, or cause other damage to your home.
On top of being inconvenient, this can also be very expensive: If your dog eats something he shouldn’t, he might need an emergency trip to the veterinarian. Help the first days home run smoothly by securing trash cans, chemical cleaners, wires, and other chewable items around the home. Crate your new dog at night and consider staying home from work while he settles in.
4. Neglecting Exercise
Sometimes, people adopt a dog only to discover they can’t keep up with their pet’s energy. Dogs require a good deal of exercise — it’s recommended to provide at least two short walks and one long exercise session per day — but it can be tough to manage on top of an already busy schedule.
Set a schedule for bathroom breaks and walks to keep your dog healthy, happy, and well-behaved. If your pet is getting into trouble, he likely needs more exercise than he’s getting. Hiring a dog walker is a convenient way to get your dog the activity he needs when you’re working long hours and can’t find the time.
5. Not Spaying and Neutering
Most people understand spaying and neutering’s role in preventing unwanted puppies, but some owners assume they can prevent an unintended canine pregnancy. Unfortunately, dogs escape and unexpected litters happen, and many of those puppies end up in animal shelters they may not make it out of. Spaying and neutering before your dog has the chance to reproduce fights pet overpopulation, prevents cancers and infections, and reduces problem behaviors like mating and roaming.
Now that you know what not to do, you’re ready to start searching for the perfect pooch to add to your family.
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