Bringing a new dog home: Tips for first-time dog owners

Bringing a new dog home for the first time is one of the most exciting things you can experience as a pet owner. However, while this is a special time for both dog and pet owner and likely a memory you will cherish for years to come, it can come hand in hand with challenges first-time dog owners should be familiar with. Whether you’re bringing a brand new puppy home, a rescue dog or an adopted dog, there are many important factors to consider and be aware of when deciding to be a first-time dog owner. 

Keep reading as our experts at Direct4Pet share their top tips for first-time dog owners on the best ways to prepare and care for your new dog.

Top 10 tips for first-time dog owners

1. Know your budget and do dog breed research. 

If you’re planning on purchasing your dog, it’s important to remember that many breeds  can be expensive, so we would recommend first-time pet owners conduct their own market research and discuss budgets to give clarity on which dog will be best for you. Look into what breed of dog is within your budget and which kind of dog will fit in best with your life, whether you live alone or have a family, it pays to do research on which dog breed will suit your day to day lifestyle. 

While often overlooked, it’s also important to consider that a new dog, especially a puppy, requires the same amount of care and attention that a newborn child would, so pet owners should be ready to make adjustments to ensure they are able to provide for a dog in the same way.

2. Understand the responsibility and assess free time. 

Purchasing, adopting, or fostering your first dog is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Pet owners  need to assess their time and consider how much of it they are willing to dedicate to looking after a new dog. This is especially important if you are buying a puppy as they require a lot more attention and care than an older dog and will therefore need a dedicated amount of hours committed to looking after them. Similarly important if first time dog owners are considering adopting or fostering their first dog, as this will likely be a big change for dogs to adjust to and will require more time to see them happy and comfortable in their new space. Consider your work-life balance as a family and how a dog will fit into your daily schedule before committing to one.

3. Find a local veterinarian and schedule regular check ups.

All dogs will require a vet at some point in their life, whether it’s for regular check-ups and vaccinations when they are a puppy or if they may encounter a potential illness or accident when they are older. Either way, it’s important pet owners have a vet plan in place, or a local vet nearby that they can take them to when needed. It also pays to brush up on local 24/7 emergency vet numbers in case urgent care is needed.

4. Prepare your house with all of the essentials.

Getting your house ready for a new dog is similar to how you would prepare your house for the arrival of a child. You need to ensure that they have a comfortable dog bed or crate set-up in their own space, as well as ensuring your pantry is  fully stocked on the correct type of food and feeding/water bowls (as these differ in suitability based on age). Regardless of the age of the dog, be it a brand new puppy or older dog, pet owners should ensure they have plenty of toys, treats and comfort items to help furry friends  adjust to their new homes with ease.

5. Get an identifiable collar and consider a microchip.

One of the most important parts of owning a dog is ensuring their safety, especially when it comes to walking them. It’s advised that first-time dog owners ensure their dog is either microchipped or wears an identifiable collar at all times when leaving the house, so that if they run off or get lost they can be easily returned.

6. Create a calming environment.

Once you bring your furry friend home, it’s important to create a calming environment for them to rest in, both during the day and at night. Whether you choose to keep them in a crate or in a dog bed, first-time dog owners need to make sure they have their own space with comforting items where they can feel safe and relaxed in the house.

If your dog needs a helping hand in feeling relaxed in their new environment, particularly if they are a puppy or recently adopted dog, consider investing in a trusted calming aid, such as Adaptil’s calming diffuser or Pet Remedy’s calming spray to help them settle and adjust with ease.

7. Build a solid routine and train consistently.

A vital part in successfully owning a dog for the first time is to create a solid routine for them that incorporates well into your existing routine. Make sure to plan your day around your dog so that they are walked and fed regularly, at roughly the same time each day. Dog’s thrive off routine and so it’s important that you create a daily regime that suits both yours and your dog’s needs in order to create an environment that can make training easy.

Training your dog consistently is the best way to encourage positive behaviours, from house training to operant conditioning, you can teach your dog how to sit, lie down, roll over amongst having perfect recall on walks and helping them to know when is the best time to go to the bathroom outside. If this is an area first-time dog owners want to focus on, at Direct4Pet, we would recommend investing in dog training aids to help encourage positive behaviours.

8. Learn how to communicate with your dog and know their needs.

Once you begin to form a bond with your dog you will naturally figure out the ways in which they communicate, to show you what they need at that exact moment. Whether they demonstrate a certain behaviour or noise, figuring out the language your dog uses is vital to ensuring their needs are always being met. This will come in time, particularly if they are an adopted dog who already has their own ways of communicating, so it’s important to remember to be patient and keep focusing on communication until you have a solid bond with your new furry friend.

9. Get extra support and be ready for setbacks.

Owning your first dog can be just as taxing as having your first baby and the hard work it takes to train and care for your dog can be difficult to do alone. Therefore, we would recommend having a friend or family member that you can rely on to help you with your dog whenever you need. Whether you need someone to help with training them, or someone to watch your dog whilst you’re out of the house, knowing you have a trusted person to rely on to offer their assistance is important when buying, or adopting, your first dog.

10. Relax and enjoy your new pup.

Finally, it’s time to relax and enjoy time with your new dog! 

The love of a dog is something everyone should get the chance to experience, so make sure to not take it for granted and get to know and bond with your new furry friend.

Dog Beds for first-time dog owners

One of the most important items pet owners should consider investing in ahead of the arrival of a new dog is a good quality dog bed. The type of dog bed you will need depends on the size and breed of your dog and how quickly they are likely to grow. Make sure you buy a bed that is big enough for them to grow into, but not too big so that they don’t feel cosy in such a large space.

Scruffs Cosy Soft Dog Bed £19.98  Scruffs Luxury Kensington Dog Pet Box Bed £84.99 

Scruffs offer a wide range of sizes of their Cosy Soft Dog Beds that are built with great insulation, good cushioning and a super-soft plush feel, the perfect simple dog bed for first-time owners. If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, Scruffs also offer the Luxury Kensington Dog Bed that provides ultimate support and comfort for your four-legged friend. Featuring deep side-walls and a higher-rear this dog bed offers the perfect resting environment for your pup. Add a couple of comfort items such as dog blankets and plush toys in order to help their bed feel as comfortable and relaxing as possible.

Dog Feeders for first-time dog owners

Feeding your new dog at the same time each day is vital to ensure a solid routine is built and making sure they have the right bowl to eat and drink out of is just as important. A great investment for first-time dog owners, is a set of bowls that will grow with your dog such as the Rosewood Adjustable Height Double Dog Bowl. This set of dog bowls allow you to change the height of them to move as your dog grows and also helps to aid in digestion and reduce neck strain, allowing them to eat in a more relaxed way.

Rosewood Adjustable Height Double Dog Bowl £18.09 Sureflap Microchip Pet Feeder £116.99 and Lickimat Slomo Boredom Buster Slow Feeder £10.79

Feeding times can be difficult for first-time owners to keep track of, especially if you own other pets such as cats, as trying to get each pet to stick to their own bowl of food can be tricky. The Sureflap Microchip Pet Feeder is designed to work with your dog’s microchip and detect when they are nearby to open for that specific dog only.  

If you’re looking for a way to give your dog food that will help occupy their time and challenge them (particularly beneficial for keeping puppies stimulated), then a Lickimat Boredom Buster Slow Feeder is a great choice for first-time dog owners. Not only do Lickimat’s prevent overeating and provide a mentally stimulating activity but the motion of licking helps to release a calming hormone in your dog to help them relax. Lickimat’s are also a great option for providing a distraction to your dog before leaving them alone for long periods of time in the house, which is perfect for first-time dog owners trying to adapt their dog to a new routine.

Dog Food for first-time dog owners

Deciding on what dog food to stock up on before your pup’s arrival completely depends on the individual dog. If you are adopting a dog from a previous shelter or home they may need to be kept on the same type of food as they have been previously. Similarly, some dogs may have specific dietary requirements or allergies which should be catered to through their food, therefore it’s important to pick a dog food that is suitable for your dog that will keep them healthy and happy. Below are a number of trusted dog food options available at Direct4Pet that can help you get started on creating a healthy and nutritious diet for your dog.

Royal Canin are one of our best selling options for dog food and are the perfect place to start when deciding on which food will be best for your new dog. They have a wide variety of food options for dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes, catering to all dietary needs, from hypoallergenic to digestion aid, dental care and more, browse Royal Canin on our website to find the perfect dry and wet dog food tailored to your new dog.

Royal Canin Veterinary Health Nutrition Hypoallergenic Dog Food £52.29 Royal Canin Dry Dog Food Specifically For Adult Dachshund £13.39 Royal Canin Dry Dog Food For Mini Puppy £25.99 

If you’re looking for more dog food options, browse our full collection of dog food and treats on the Direct4Pet website to find the perfect fit for you and your dog. If you find the perfect food for your pup, why not subscribe to our dog food subscription service and check out our blog which outlines how it can help you save time and money.

Dog Toys for first-time dog owners

Whether you’re looking for a soft plush toy for your puppy to chew on as they teethe or a hard-wearing rubber toy to throw around on walks, we’ve got a varied selection of dog toys for all ages and play preferences here at Direct4Pet. If your first dog is a puppy or a smaller breed, you may want to consider buying them a plush toy as their first dog toy. Plush toys are a great first introduction to play as they are gentle on their puppy teeth and can also make comforting cuddle partners for bedtime. 

The Kong floppy knots and Kong cozie plush toys incorporate extra material and rope inside for an added texture element that can be fun for them to chew and pull on. For a plush with an added squeak noise, the Tufflove tough dog plush features three layers of materials that are reinforced around the inner queso for a durable yet soft dog toy.

Kong Floppy Knots £9.29 Kong Cozie £7.69 Tufflove Tough Dog Plush £7.49 

If you’ve got a larger dog, investing in a hard-wearing ball is a great choice to ensure a long-lasting toy. A great starter option for your first dog is to buy a varied selection of balls to begin to practice fetch-play such as the Chuckit fetch medley. This set of three features balls of different materials, durability and buoyancy to suit different forms of play, from field to water these balls are the perfect toy choice for your first dog.

Kong Jumbler Ball £11.99 Kong Airdog Squeaker Bone £9.29 Chuckit Fetch Medley £14.79

Kong is also a great brand choice for dog toys that are built to last, designed with durable rubber materials for dogs of all sizes and ages, you’re sure to find a dog toy suitable for your pup from Kong. The Kong jumbler ball incorporates the fun of a ball with an added squeak element and handles, perfect for dogs who engage in more tough play. The Kong airdog squeaker bone is a great dog toy choice as it incorporates the texture and bounce of a tennis ball, in an enticing bone shape with an inner squeak making it a fun interactive toy for your pup. Looking for more information on the benefits of Kong Toys? Read the Direct4Pet  guide to Kong Toys blog to find out more information on the benefits of these stimulating toys.

Dog Collars, Leashes and Harnesses

Buying the right collar and leash is an important step in owning your first dog, you need to make sure that you choose the right type for their size, breed and temperament. If you have a smaller dog consider buying a harness instead of a collar to take the strain off their neck such as the Halti Walking Harness. If you have a larger dog that you are trying to train to not pull on a leash, you may benefit from a headcollar like the Halti Dog Headcollar. 

Or if you’re looking for a simple yet effective first choice then a traditional leather or nylon collar such as the Rosewood Luxury Tweed Leather Collar will work great. The important thing to remember is to choose an option that is most comfortable and practical for your dog and to ensure you attach an identifiable tag to it.

Halti Walking Harness £12.39 Rosewood Luxury Tweed Check Leather Collar £8.29 Halti Dog Headcollar £12.39 

The type of leash you choose for your first dog also depends on the nature of your dog and the amount of freedom you wish to give them when training. A retractable leash such as the Flexi Giant is great for more active dogs who need more freedom of movement but also offers control for the owner. Or if you’re looking for a hard-wearing, simple lead then the Rosewood Rope Twist Slip Lead is perfect for larger dogs who require a more robust lead option.

Flexi Giant Black with Neon Tape £27.99 Company of Animals Halti Training Lead £12.29 Rosewood Rope Twist Slip Lead £8.29  

For your first dog you may want to choose a leash that allows you a variety of options to help with training. The Halti Training Lead is a versatile and practical leash that aids in the training of your dog, with options for hands-free walking and two dogs on one lead, this is ideal for first-time owners who need flexibility when walking. 

Let’s welcome home your new pup

Now that you’re aware of the most important things to consider when bringing a new dog home, it’s time to prepare. Browse through the Direct4Pet website to find all of your new dog essentials and get ready to welcome home your new best friend!