Remember your first dog? Not the family dog, but the first dog you picked out of the litter, rescued or was gifted to you. The first dog that had YOU as the point of contact at the veterinarian, had YOUR phone number on their dog tag, the first dog you bought dog food for, medicine, supplements, daycare, took to the dog park and told other proud owners, “that’s my dog”.
Remember when you got your first dog? Some of the mistakes you made? What you didn’t know? How overly protective you were?
Like Bulldogs, Poodles and Chihuahuas, first time dog owners are a breed of their own. They enter parenthood much like a puppy enters the world; eager, but with a lot to learn:
· Potty training: Puppies come with bladders they cannot control. Patience will be tested and consistency is the key to success. Regular potty breaks with praise for desired behavior works so much better than punishment for accidents.
· To fix or not to fix: Puppies come with all the plumbing for making more puppies. Seven months is the standard age for getting puppies altered. There are many opinions, advantages and disadvantages to spaying or neutering. Personally, my first dog became aggressive at about three years old and got snipped soon after he bit me.
· Vaccinations: In California, dogs must be immunized against rabies. If they want to go to daycare, they may be required to have current distemper/parvo and bordatella (kennel cough) shots. Here is another topic with many differing opinions, advantages and disadvantages; so new owners must do their research.
· Daycare/boarding: Any dog can benefit from socialization. Dogs are, by nature, social creatures and dog daycare gives them a chance to interact, learn from the pack, potty outside (if your daycare offers that), and spend some of that excess energy. Although it’s best to socialize dogs when they are young, some puppies may be more vulnerable to viruses when their immune system has not fully developed. Just like a playground for kids, being around others exposes them to viruses, even if all are immunized.
· Dog parks: A great way to bond with your pup, create memories and meet other dogs and dog owners. Dog parks can also attract aggressive dogs, non-vaccinated dogs and sometimes inattentive/irresponsible owners. Keep your dog close, never out of your sight and pick up after them. Don’t be “that” owner.
In conclusion, being the owner of a dog daycare, we love first time dog owners. These are people who’ve chosen to make the sacrifice and accept the commitment of a dependent creature they will have for years. These people are usually very protective of their newfound love and it’s an honor to be trusted with their newest family member, share information about their dog, best practices and antidotes. New dog owners need to be coddled just as much as their dogs. We get it, that’s why we do what we do.