5 Tips for First-Time Dog Parents

Dog Sitting on Home Sweet Home Welcome Mat

There are few things more exciting than adopting a new dog and getting to experience all the joys of being a pet parent. However, it can also be an intimidating and, at times, overwhelming experience if you’ve never been responsible for a dog before.

Health and Wellness Tips for New Pet Parents

1. Understand that training takes time.

Many pet parents can’t wait until their dog learns how to sit, stay, rollover, or play fetch. But contrary to popular belief, these aren’t things every dog instinctively knows. Training a dog can take weeks, if not months, and consistency is key.

2. Their needs change as the seasons do.

In the summer, dogs are far more likely to get dehydrated or burn their paw pads while on a walk. In the fall, they’re more susceptible to fleas because many new parents assume fleas have died off and therefore stop administering their dog’s flea medication. In the winter, ice salt can make your pup ill while freezing temperatures can put their health at risk.

Regardless of where you live, it’s important to know how to care for your dog properly all year long.

3. Understand how to manage separation anxiety.

Particularly for dogs that were adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic and have become used to parents who are always home, watching them head back to work can be difficult. Fortunately, relatively small changes to your routine and lifestyle can help your dog live a happier, healthier, and ultimately less stressful life.

Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Camp Bow Wow's animal health and behavior consultant, suggests starting off with short periods of separation, making physical exercise a priority, enrolling your dog in a day care program.

4. Create a support system.

Even the most loyal dog owner will need to go out of town for work or on vacation at some point. While some hotels welcome four-legged guests, many do not. If you’re ever planning on being away from your home for more than a few hours, it’s important to have a care plan in place for your dog. For some, that includes having a neighbor or friend stop by. Others prefer to send their dog to a day care and boarding facility like Camp Bow Wow.

5. Prioritize mental health as much as physical.

When we talk about a dog’s health and wellness, much of the conversation revolves around a good diet and exercise. However, their mental health is just as important and, in many, ways connected to their physical wellbeing. Regardless of whether you recently adopted an energetic puppy or an older dog, socializing them with other dogs and people can make new experiences less stressful, teach them new skills, and help build their confidence.

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