Advice for New Dog Owners

Having been a full-time professional pet sitter and dog walker for six years, I have had the privilege to work with just about any kind of dog and any kind of family you can think of. Time and time again, I see families struggle with their new furbaby and not know where to turn. Every pet and every family is different, but there are some key things that every new dog owner must understand from day one to build a lasting and healthy relationship with their new family member.


(Our team loves and cares for all animals, but these tips are specifically directed towards new dog owners)


First and foremost, always be patient, and remember that there will be an adjustment period. Whether you’re adopting a cute puppy or an adult dog, the first couple of weeks will be about learning each other. Your new pup is going to test his limits and it is important that you allow them to explore and learn while setting respectful boundaries in the process. Many animal rescues suggest following the rule of 3 when bringing a new dog home: 3 days for them to figure out they live there, 3 weeks for them to get into a routine, and 3 months for them to truly be at home. As your new pup settles into their new life, pay attention to what they respond positively to and start utilizing those things to structure their lives.


If adopting a puppy, it is so important to expose them to things at a young age. Doing little things like playing with their paws will actually make it much easier to clip their nails down the line. As soon as they have completed the necessary vaccinations, you should allow them to play with other dogs, meet other humans, and all-around learn the world around them. The longer you wait to let your pup make friends, the harder it will be for them. The majority of dogs that don’t like other dogs or other people were just not socialized at a young age.


An overwhelming amount of the bad behavior I have seen comes directly from a misunderstanding and mismanagement of the dog’s needs. Different breeds have been bred for different reasons, therefore different dogs will have different energy levels and responses to things. By not paying attention to your dog’s breed-specific needs, you are setting yourself up for failure and likely creating an unfulfilling life for your pup. For example, Jack Russells were bred for hunting foxes for two hundred years, which means that today’s Jack Russells still have a lot of energy and need a “job” to do.


Once you have formed a respectful relationship with your new pup and put some structure into their lives, it is vital to do some basic training. Even if you don’t care about having a dog that can speak 15 languages, it will make your life incredibly easier if they at least know basic commands. Teaching them to sit, to lie down, and to come or wait are all very easy things that you can teach yourself. By doing this, you are solidifying your bond with your new pet and showing them that they must follow your direction. Not only that but teaching them to come and wait could quite literally save their life down the line.


Outside of training your new pup on basic commands, it can also be life-changing for them to know how to walk and behave properly on a leash. You will be able to take them on many more adventures with you and therefore have an all-around better relationship if they know how to do this. Leash training is also something that most people can do themselves with patience and a few YouTube videos.


Whatever training method you use, it is vital that you at least use positive reinforcement, if not completely force-free. Negative reinforcers such as shock collars have been proven to re-wire the way synapses in the brain are fired (for worse, not for better). I personally recommend Zac George’s YouTube channel for training tips. Should you feel compelled to contact a local dog trainer, be sure to check their credentials and reviews. Professional dog training can get very pricey, but spending $1,000 to have a well-behaved dog could save you thousands of dollars and lots of heartache down the line. If you would like recommendations for dog trainers in Jacksonville, FL, feel free to contact us!


Staying on a consistent routine with your pup’s routine, training, socialization, and energy-management is incredibly important. Your pup will only be left confused if you walk him and test his commands occasionally instead of routinely. This is where contacting a professional pet sitter can be such an amazing investment. Even if you don’t think you need a pet sitter, you should still have one established and ready to go at a moment’s notice.


Professional pet sitters can be used to help manage your pup’s routine and energy level, and can act as a great source of information. I can assure you, no one knows the in’s and out’s of your local dog parks, pet shops, dog trainers, and so on like a good local pet sitter. Our team of pet sitters works directly with dog trainers in Jacksonville, FL to reinforce their teaching, which strengthens your investment in the process.


Next time you are feeling stuck with your new pup, give Bad to the Bone Pet Care a call. We aren’t just pet sitters, we are pet professionals here to help.


Written by Doug Keeling, Owner of Bad to the Bone Pet Care


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