Thursday, 22 June 2017

tips for first time dog owners

About 2 years ago, we offered to look after a friend’s dog while she was away on a business trip. I’d met Laika, my friend’s Staffordshire bug terrier, a few times before she stayed with us for a week but it was still a daunting task when she first arrived! Neither of us had ever had a dog as kids (well I did for about 3 months until my dad gave him away!) but we knew we were definitely ‘dog people’! I’d been hooked on Cesar Milan’s The Dog Whisperer for about a year by this point, and thought I was a pro! In hindsight, it has to be said you can do all the research you want, but there is nothing like hands on experience to really help you realise what it’s like to have a dog!

Laika was an older lady dog, who had been rescued from a life of excess breeding – you could tell she was exhausted. Her temperament was beautiful and she was an absolute joy to look after - I cried a few tears when we got home from returning her when the week was over.

This was definitely the push we needed towards getting our own dog, and so our journey began to finding Hutch!

We visited a few rescue centres before finding Hutch at Bryson’s Animal Shelter in Gateshead, and even walked a few dogs before we considered him, but after all the searching, we definitely ended up with the perfect little pooch for us! He transitioned perfectly to living with us and right away, he began to change our lives. I has suffered quite badly with health anxiety the year before we got him, and it was amazing how much of a positive impact he had on my mental health from the very first day we took him home!
It’s almost 2 years since we got him, and I couldn’t be happier to have him in our lives! Although there were a lot of things to consider, change and rearrange about us and our lives along the way, he’s my best friend and I don’t ever want to be without him! Below I’ve made a list of tips for first-time dog owners -  I hope it inspires you all to consider if you could give a rescue dog a home!

Be Patient

Bringing your first dog home can be a bit unnerving. Neither you are the dog are used to the new living situation, and things can get a little testy in the first few weeks. Potty training is one of the first things to master but this can take time, especially if you have a pup on your hands! We were so lucky that Hutch was fully house trained and had no accidents when he first arrived.
Your new dog might also have a few bad habits, like chewing or pulling on walks that you need to work on but all these things take time. It’ll all be worth it when you and doggo are settled into the new routine and enjoying being one another’s new best friends!

Be Vigilant

Although being patient is so, so important, it’s also to be aware of things and keep a close eye on developing behaviors when you first bring your pupper home. You can help keep temptation and potential danger to a minimum by making some small changes around the house. For example – child gate the stairs if you don’t want doggy on your bed, or being sure to tidy anything away that you don’t want to be thoroughly chewed on!

Be the Boss

It’s a bit controversial, this idea of being the Boss of your dog. Many people don’t agree with it, but there’s no denying leadership and dominance is something that is happens throughout the animal kingdom. Violence or even losing your temper with your dog is NEVER okay, but it is imperative that you set strict boundaries from the get go. You new pup will actually thank you for being strict – they love to know their place and role within their ‘pack’ as soon as possible!

Be Consistent

Save yourself the wasted time of trying to set a certain rule or trick, if you aren’t always going to follow through with it every single time. Dogs learn by reinforcement and repetition, so if you want the dog to stay off the couch, then it has to be a 24/7 rule, not just when you feel like it! Also, don’t be disheartened if your pupper isn’t catching on right away. Stay consistent and persistent, and try different incentives and your new best friend will be following the rules in no time at all!

Be Playful

While being the Boss is important to developing a dogs relationship with it’s new owners, there’s still a vital role in that relationship for play! This is the quickest way to establish boundaries and to help the dog begin to understand you and your body language and mannerisms in the most relaxed and enjoyable way. Not all dogs are responsive to play as others, but you can bet even the most lazy, uninterested dog gets the urge to be silly and let go every now and then. Grab a tennis ball, and go have fun!

Be Honest

The first few weeks, and even months, can be quite an adjustment for you and doggy. You’ll be finding out new things about each other your whole lives, so don’t expect to know everything right away. But do be mindful of admitting to yourself if things are really not working out. It’s heart breaking whenever you see a pup being sent back to the animal shelter but if you can’t give him the life he needs then it’s better to let him go and find a better chance with someone else.

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