First Time Dog Owner: Comprehensive Guide

First time dog owner
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Among the long list of companion animals, dogs are unrivaled in their friendship, loyalty, devotion and commitment to humankind. Any individual who has ever loved and cared for a dog can attest, to a dog’s hundred fold return. The wagging of the tail when you take off the leash from its neck, the excitement it shows when you come home in the evening from work and the delight in throwing of a tennis ball are just a few of the benefits of being a dog owner.

Owning a pet and in this case, a dog is a privilege that unfortunately comes with its own responsibilities; dogs are always dependable on their owners for shelter and food at the very minimum. If you are contemplating the idea of having a dog as a companion, then it is very important to understand the level of commitment and amount of responsibilities that usually come with dog ownership. All in all, here are some very important tips and guidelines on how to be a good dog owner.

A dog owner’s guide: Imperative tips on how to be a good owner

The first step to being a successful dog owner is to think first. Think first is a step that will require the potential dog owner to recognize his or her commitment before acquiring a dog. Due to the fact that dog ownership is something that cannot be entered too lightly due to the emotional and final commitment, a potential dog owner should first figure out if a dog is ideal and right for him or her. Apart from the think first step, you will also be required to evaluate and asses your lifestyle.

Before getting a dog, you will be required to ascertain as to whether he or she will be best suited for your lifestyle; i.e. if you are an individual who is extremely neat, you will be required to get a dog who does not shed his or her coat very much. If you suffer from allergies, you need a dog that is hypoallerginic so read the list on our article to guide you. While putting all aspects and factors into perspective, i.e. activities, hobbies, schedules and personalities, it is highly important to fully evaluate and asses these factors before acquiring a dog.

Dog training for first time dog owners

After you have acquired your ideal dog breed it is very essential to ensure that he or she is always in good health. For that, you will be required to take your dog to a veterinarian for regular check-ups. While at the veterinarian it is highly advisable to ask him or her about your dog’s behavior, diet, activity level and any other concerns.

Whenever your dog appears to be in pain or to be of ill-health always ensure that he or she is taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Apart from the regular visits and checkups, you will also be required to put your dog on a good diet. If you are uncertain on what will work for your dog, you can always contact your breeder or veterinarian for advice. Our piece on DIY dog food will help you prepare your dog’s food yourself.

Depending on the size, age and activity level, the amount and type of food will always vary greatly. Putting your dog on a healthy diet will not achieve much if your dog has not been properly vaccinated. Dogs usually follow a very strict schedule vaccination so as to effectively eliminate and prevent diseases. Depending on the vaccination schedule given by the veterinarian, always ensure that your dog is always up to date with his or her vaccination. Our informative piece regarding dog vaccine schedules will ensure that your pet stays in tip-top shape.

If you are looking for an ideal way to earn the loyalty, friendship and devotion of your dog, then make a point of being a good friend. Due to the fact that dogs love to play, you should always ensure that a little bit of time has been set aside for play sessions. Apart from the benefit of sharing ample time with your pet, play has been found to have therapeutic benefits on the dog because it provides an outlet for any dog’s intense energy. Apart from playing, you should always take your dog for walks on a regular basis.

Your dog will not only enjoy exploring the neighborhood but he or she is going to benefit immensely from the regular exercise. Another great way to earn the trust and undivided loyalty of your pet is to give out treats. On one hand your dog is always going to appreciate treats while on the other hand, treats can be used as supplements to your dog’s regular diet. Furthermore treats can be employed as an effective training aid.

Keeping your dog safe is the final and last step and final step to being a successful dog owner. So as to ensure the safety of your dog at all times you will be required to I.D your dog. If your dog gets lost, the chances of he or she getting returned will be on a higher scale. For proper identification you can always consider tattoos or microchips. Tattoos and microchips are an excellent way of permanently identifying your dog hence the tattoo or microchip can become an asset if your dog gets lost. Like humans, dogs are also vulnerable to heat stress.

When on the road, it is highly important to ensure that your dog is not left in the car when temperatures are extremely high. In addition, if your dog is out of the house on a sunny day, always ensure that a cool and shady place is provided together with lots of water. Needless to say, it is very imperative to ensure that your dog is safe while in the car. You can either attach the dog to a safety belt or you can simply use a crate. If you own a pick-up truck or any other vehicle that falls into this category always ensure that the dog is not alone at the back.

Best dog breeds for a first time dog owner

Despite the fact that all dogs are individuals within a certain breed, their personalities and needs can vary greatly from one dog breed to another, hence it is safe to say that some dog breeds are best suited for first time owners. While putting all the factors discussed above into perspective, it is very important to remember that there is no bad dog breed.

Furthermore, if your ideal dog breed does not appear in this list, it does not mean that it is not going to suit your needs. Any first time dog owner has the potential of being successful with any dog, as long as they are willing to be fully committed. Here is a comprehensive list for some of the best dog breeds for first time dog owners.


Widely known for theirmerry temperament, Bichons are a small but sturdy dog breed that is ideal for both novice and experienced dog owners. Their excellent temperament and their easy going nature, is what makes them ideal for beginners. Apart from their excellent temperament, Bichons are also very low maintenance hence require regular grooming and at the very least a daily walk. With compact bodies, fluffy white hairs and baby doll faces, Bichons are a very appealing dog breed whose amiable looks have been enriched by their animated, good natured disposition.

Bichons dog

Despite their diminutive sizes, Bichons are not only very handy when compared with other dog breeds of the same size but are also classified as members of the non-sporting group by the American Kennel Club. Unlike most dog breeds, Bichons do not shed fur hence they are highly recommended for individuals with allergies.

But before selecting a Bichon as your first pet, it is highly recommended that if you are allergic to fur, you should consult your personal physician because not everyone is going to react the same way when he or she comes into contact with Bichons. If you are a first time dog owner who is looking for a wonderful family pet, then Bichons will make a very great companion.

Find out more about this wonderful dog on our profile on Bichons.


Originally bred to herd reindeers, haul sledges and hunt, the Samoyed dog breed has proved to be a valuable companion for many individuals who have chosen them as a pet. The Samoyed dog breed close association to humans can be traced back to the Samoyede’s who not only bred the dog but also raised him thousands of years ago.

Due to the dog’s initial close encounter and association with the Samoyed people, the Samoyed breed has earned its reputation as an intelligent, dignified family dog. As a working breed, the Samoyed can at times be strong willed but all in all they always remain gentle, friendly and devoted to their owners.

Samoyed dog

Apart from its strong will, the Samoyed might choose to dote to one member of the family but their love and affection for other family members will always remain undivided. Due to their need to be around people, Samoyed’s are usually very happy when they are loved and treated as part of the family and in some scenarios they can even become depressed when left alone for a long duration of time.

Along with their daunting smiles, the Samoyed’s ultra-thick white coat is undeniably one of its defining traits. When cleaning the ultra-white furs, owners must use diligent brushes so as to ensure that they do not tangle and mat. Our breed profile about this angel of the canine world will help you learn more about the Samoyed.

Yorkie poo

Apart from being a fun loving breed, Yorkie poo’s are a mix between the Miniature poodle and the Yorkshire terrier. The Yorkie poo dog breed are not only loved for being an affectionate breed but also for being gentle and exceedingly affectionate. Due to their gentle and affectionate nature, Yorkie poo’s not only make delightful companions for novice and experienced dog owners but also are perfectly suited for apartment life.

Furthermore Yorkie poo’s are usually very energetic hence they really love playing and their performance competition such as obedience and agility is unrivaled.

Unlike its parent dog breed, the poodle, Yorkie poo’s are usually very independent but their independence relies on the temperament of the individual parents, with more emphasis being on the poodle parent.

In addition, Yorkie poo’s are also an ideal dog breed for first time dog owners because of their low shedding coat and miniature adorable sizes.Regardless of their miniature size, Yorkie poo’s are unaware of their small size hence when unsupervised they can launch themselves at much larger dogs. So as to protect the Yorkie poo breeds from themselves, you should always ensure that you introduce them to larger dogs under supervision.

All in all Yorkie poo’s are very quick leaner hence they do exceedingly well in training. When training Yorkie poo’s, always ensure that their training’s are not only fun but also very interesting. In cases where the Yorkie poo fails to perform always ensure that you employ the use of steady, positive reinforcements since harsh corrections may end up injuring or shutting down such a small sized dog.

Yorkie poo puppy

The Yorkie poo also enjoys barking a little bit too much which in turn makes them an ideal watch dog candidate. The Yorkie poo breed will always bark when they notice anything suspicious or when any person tries to approach your door. But if the barking can be a problem with any first time dog owner, Yorkie poo’s can be trained to bark once or twice.

How to a be good dog owner: common mistakes made by first timers

Focusing more on punishments — considering the amount of love that we may have for our pets, it is quite shocking that one of the common mistakes that both experienced and inexperienced dog owners make is focusing on punishments rather than using other mechanisms such as rewards. Dogs usually think in very simple terms, so it is very unlikely that they are aware of some of the mistakes that they make.

In addition, punishments have the ability to damage the relationship between you and your pet. Instead you can always focus on managing them by using confinements and supervisions, rewarding them for good behavior, keeping them on a leash and many others.

Not neutering or spraying your pets — this is one of the most common mistakes that most pet owners are known to make. The consequences of not spraying or neutering your pets are on a higher scale. Due to the fact that there is a serious pest overpopulation problem, spraying or neutering your pet will play a key role in decreasing or eliminating such problems. For male dogs, neutering plays a key role of eliminating the probability of the dog contracting or developing testicular cancer.

In addition, neutering also assists the male dogs in reducing aggression. For female dogs, spaying plays a key role in reducing the chances to develop breast cancer to almost zero percent. In addition, spaying is also important in females because it eliminates the chances of the female dog contracting or developing pyometra, a fatal infection of the uterus. Furthermore spaying also is highly recommended not only because it eliminates mood swings which are usually associated with the heat cycles but also plays a key role in the reduction of spotting.

Lack of proper supervision — while most animals are children tolerant and may enjoy being around children, it is highly advisable that all dogs must be supervised at all times especially when they are around kids. Irrespective of the breed, there is always an unknown risk when you leave both your kids and pets unattended to.

In addition, most people are unaware that pets especially dogs can be very tolerant for many years but when they are pushed to a certain extent (i.e overexcited behaviour or rough play), they may be forced to react. Hence the most likely person to be scratched or bitten is always a family member.

Killing with kindness — most people tend to love their pets so much that they forget to notice how much they might be hurting them. In addition, most people tend to think that they are being mean to their pets when they are not able to give them what they want. As a first time dog owner, it is highly recommended to ensure that your pet is not only comfortable but also loved. But irrespective of all this, it is highly recommended to ensure that there are some clear boundaries and rules for your pet.

Clear rules and boundaries will not only ensure that your pet is safe at all times but also it will go a long way in ensuring that your pet will stay with you for a very long time.

Assuming the pet is a person — it is very adorable and humane that most people will adopt pets as full time family members. While pets are usually incredible around people, most people tend to forget at times that dogs are still animals. Dogs usually think very different than the way we do. They think in much simpler terms and are usually unaware of the mistakes they make hence punishing them like humans is doing a great disservice to them.

If your dog might decide to dig up the yard or do any other thing that it may consider to be fun, then there is a very high chance that he or she is bored, nothing more.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.