6 Tips Every First-Time Dog Mom or Dad Needs to Know

couple holding a white puppy wrapped in a blanket

Learning how to adult is a process. College? Check. New job, new apartment? Check and check. Now that you’re out in the world and #adulting, the obvious next step is parenthood. Pet parenthood, that is. Being a dog mom or dad is an incredibly rewarding experience, but like so much else in life, it definitely takes some practice to get it right.

Before you bring your furry companion home, make sure you’re prepared to face the challenges of dog parenthood with these 6 essential tips:

  • Always be prepared for emergencies
  • Body language is important
  • Training is expensive, but worth it
  • You get what you give
  • Go for walks
  • You can’t socialize your dog too much
pug puppy
One of the best things you can do for your pet is to make sure you’re stocked up on doggy first aid essentials-- just in case playtime leads to some scrapes and bruises.

1. Good pet parents are always prepared for emergencies.

While your medicine cabinet doesn’t have to rival a fully-stocked hospital, it’s generally a good idea to keep a few essentials for treating common human injuries on hand-- bandages, aspirin, maybe some disinfectant. When you welcome a four-legged friend into your home, you’re taking responsibility for their well being, which means you need to be prepared to handle their bumps and bruises as well.

So what pet care basics should you have on hand? A wide variety of dog wound care and first aid treatments are available to consumers. Here are our top 3:

  • Silver Spray. Silver spray contains silver and zinc, which are important for killing bacteria and fungi. It’s a great option to have on hand for general dog wound treatment.
  • Anti-Fungal Spray. Did you know that bulldogs-- and other pups with those cute scrunchy faces-- can actually get infected wrinkles? Luckily, you can stop infected bulldog wrinkles in their tracks with anti-fungal spray.
  • Protect and Condition Spray. You’ve got your moisturizer, and you pooch has protect and condition spray. No matter what kind of fur or skin your pet has, protect and condition spray helps moisturize, reduce friction, and soothe raw or irritated areas.
a woman and a puppy nuzzling
How does your dog communicate happiness? Sadness? Fear? Learning how to read your pet’s body language will make you a better pet parent.

2. Know your pet’s body language.

When you see your best (human) friend, you can probably tell whether they’re having a great day, a terrible day, or something in between before they even open their mouth to say hi to you. You can tell by whether they are smiling or frowning, whether they are slouching or standing up straight, and a variety of other factors to indicate how they’re feeling.

Similarly, you can tell a lot about how your pet is feeling based on his or her body language. Reading up on canine body language will help you better understand your furry friend’s needs.

3. Training is expensive, but it’s definitely worth it.

For most dogs, one long training session isn’t going to be particularly effective. You’ll want to invest in a good dog trainer who will train your pet over multiple sessions. It can get a little bit pricey to find the right person to help you train your dog, but it’s definitely worth it.

Plus, since shorter training sessions tend to be more effective, training your dog doesn’t have to be some awful, time-consuming chore. Small investments of time and energy really build up, and you’ll find that a series of shorter expert training sessions delivers great results over time.

a man in a plaid shirt holding his dog
When you treat your dog with love and affection, your dog will be loving and affectionate back.

4. You get what you give.

Some people believe that being friendly and affectionate with their dog is a no-go. The thinking is that in order to show your dog that you’re the leader of the pack, you need to demonstrate your superiority by using discretion when doling out head pats and belly rubs.

In reality, this is completely unnecessary.

Building a relationship with your dog is just like building any other relationship: you get out what you give. That means that the best way to form a strong, trusting relationship with your pet is to give them positive attention. Developing this sort of rapport with your pet will make them more eager to comply with your requests than trying to assert your dominance will.

5. Don’t underestimate the power of a good walk.

Let me preface this by pointing out that a dog’s physical activity needs are dependent on a variety of factors: breed, age, fitness level, size, etc. However, walking is a great way to get your dog (and yourself, as an added bonus) up and moving.

In addition to giving your pet some much-needed exercise and helping younger or more excitable dogs burn off some extra energy, going for walks with your dogs is an amazing opportunity to bond with your pet.

6. When it comes to socializing your dog, there’s no such thing as “too much of a good thing.”

Socializing your dog is super important. It’s so important, in fact, that we’re going to say it again: socializing your dog is super important. Socializing-- or introducing your dog to new people, places, things, and experiences-- is essential to helping them interact appropriately with the world around them.

Proper socialization helps your dog feel comfortable in more situations, which reduces the stress placed on them when you do things together. It also limits the chances that your dog responds poorly when introduced to new people, other dogs, and small children.

a smiling dog
When you follow these tips, you can rest assured that your new dog will quickly become your furry best friend.

Learning how to be a dog mom or dad takes some practice. With these tips, you’ll be ahead of the game, which means you can start enjoying a strong relationship with your dog sooner.

What do you wish you had known when you adopted your first dog? Let us know in the comments!

Questions? Email us >

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