Tips For First Time Dog Owners

Choosing to live with a pet is one of the best decisions you will ever make. However, it does not come without its challenges. Here are five tips to help make living with your little furry animal even more fun and enjoyable.

1) Embrace Hair On Everything

Having lived with dogs my whole life, I cannot think of a day I haven’t gotten dressed in a perfect, fashionable outfit only to find it covered with dog hair. My first dog as an adult was a Dalmatian named Domino and he had the prickliest, whitest little hairs. They stuck in every single thread, making wearing black nearly impossible. But hey, this taught me to make brighter clothing choices and to have a more colorful outlook on life. And if you're buying a new sofa or rug, you may want to stick with neutrals or a color that will blend well with the hair of the pet that already lives in your home.

2) Exercise is Key

Pretty much all of us could exercise more often, but a dog is a great reminder of just how important exercise is for our sanity. When things get too stressful, I can always count on my yellow lab, Bella, to nudge my arm and remind me that it’s time to get outside, get some fresh air and go for a run. The exercise gives us both some needed cardio and provides me with a new perspective on what’s really important. And a tired dog is a much better behaved dog - bonus!

3) Learn To Play With Your Dog

Much like exercise, our pups often remind us not to take life too seriously. They always seem to have the energy to play - sometimes even when it doesn’t seem like the most appropriate time. However, their timing might be dead on and just what we need. As a child we are born knowing how to play and oh how we play! But through school, church, work, etc. we are conditioned to be more serious and “appropriate.” While appropriateness is important in life, we also need to remember to be more kid-like and our dogs can certainly help remind us of this.

4) Always Be Positive With Lessons

Humans and dogs are a lot alike in this area. While we may respond to someone saying no or a little pat for our bad behavior, it is often because we are fearful not because we understand the wrong we have done. Pups have a short memory span. Therefore, if punishment comes after the behavior it's associated with, then the incorrect behavior versus the one you’re actually trying to correct will be associated. So the best way to train good behavior is through positive reinforcement. Give your dog a treat when they’re good or hold back on rubs when they’re bad. But always make sure they understand what they’re being punished for or it will not work in the long run.

5) Get Used to Unconditional Love

Okay, this is the one area that applies only to dogs. Dogs are very special in this area and it may take some getting used to. But, dogs always give love - no matter what you say or do! So be nice to them and they will reward you every minute with tail wags, kisses and sweet cuddles. Who couldn’t use a little unconditional love in this crazy life?

If you're a pet lover, what are some of your favorite tips for first-time owners?