New Dog Parent Guide: First Time Dog Owner Tips, And What To Buy


I’ve always been a “dog person.” I am THAT friend who constantly announces or points out all the “bubbas” (dogs) WHENEVER I spot one. If there’s a four-legged furry friend around, you are guaranteed to find me crouched down, reaching my hand out for a sniff, asking to pet a dog. I’ve even flagged someone down across four lanes of the roadway to pet someone’s puppy. (TRUE STORY, and yes we are actual friends now.)

At the ripe age of 29, I joined alongside my fellow millennial peers, and embarked on the journey to pet parenthood. The pet industry is a billion… yes, you read that correctly, with a “B,” – a billion dollar industry.

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Americans spent an estimated $95.7 billion on their pets in 2019. Millennial pet owners are reshaping the industry, spending more on pets today, than any previous generations.

From matching sparkly collars and accessories, remote treat dispensing devices and puppy cams, to specialized services such as Run Buddy Mobile Dog Gym and farm to table foods, millennial’s are creating the demand for high-end, quality products.

Providing your canine with a premium lifestyle can get expensive. If you’re a first time dog owner, here are a few things to know about caring for your new pooch and a few essential tools I’ve come accustomed to, in my first-time-dog-owner-tool-kit.

Bringing Your Dog Home For The First Time

Whether your new dog is a puppy or an adult, there will be some kind of adjustment period after you bring them home. It’s only natural for your pup to feel insecure and frightened by changes in his environment and may be homesick for his mother or litter-mates. Patience is a virtue, and you will most certainly need to be prepared to be patient when it comes to dogs. Dogs can often be scared or overwhelmed when they enter any new environment for the first time.

How To Keep Your Dog Healthy And Happy

Now that you’re a proud dog owner, you must master the basics of dog care. At minimum, every dog needs proper nutrition, shelter, physical care, and social interaction. Once you can cover the basics, you’ll be well on your way to providing your dog a fantastic life. Food, treats, water bowl, collar, leash, toys, and grooming tools, are all things you’ll need in advance to make the transition into your home a smooth one.

Create a comfortable area that your dog recognizes as their own. Whether that’s a crate, a dog bed, or a pile of towels, sheets, or blankets. Set up a place, solely designated for your dog. Inevitably there will be a time that you must leave your pooch home alone. Advances in technology and home surveillance devices make it easier than ever to check in on your beloved pup. Personally, I keep an eye on Winnie with the Amazon Indoor/ Outdoor Blink Cameras. I love that they are battery operated, and also have a night vision component.

Feed Your Dog A Healthy Diet

You might elicit the help of your vet, breeder, or the shelter you rescued your pet from for diet advice. They should be able to provide recommendations of quality food that is best suited for your dog’s age, size, and activity level. Keep the diet consistent. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water.

Choose The Right Dog Food

Your dog’s diet is the foundation of their health. As an English Bulldog owner, finding the best food for dogs with allergies was important for me. English Bulldogs are prone to health problems and Winnie probably tried at least four different brands of dry dog food, and kibble in the first year alone until we permanently switched to using the Honest Kitchen brand. It’s also a top choice for high quality dog food among other dog parents in addition to being a good choice for dog’s with sensitive stomachs.

Exercise Your Dog

Take your dog for walks, play games, run in the yard, throw a ball around — anything to stimulate your pup’s mind and body.

Living in Phoenix, where summer temperatures soar well into the triple digits, sometimes going for a walk outside isn’t always possible. That’s why Winnie and I turn to Run Buddy Mobile. It’s a mobile dog gym that comes to you. We’re talking curbside service here! Winnie runs on their doggy treadmills in a climate controlled van. It’s AWESOME and she truly loves it. I’ve personally seen such an improvement. It’s easy for Bulldogs to become lazy and overweight, but with Run Buddy Mobile, she stays happy and healthy.

Select A Veterinarian

Every dog needs a great vet! In fact, it’s probably one of the very first places, or outings you take your new puppy to. Your veterinarian will look out for your dog’s health, educate you about your dog, and guide you through the world of dog ownership. What I like most about our vet’s office, is the personalized experience, they greet both Winnie, and myself by name.

Training Your Dog

Every dog needs training. Dog training helps strengthen your bond and provides structure and stability. Teach your dog basic commands like: sit, stay, come, and down.

Socialize Your Dog

Expose your dog to different people, environments and stimulation regularly and early on. Take your pup to the park, the pet store, and on walks through the neighborhood. Always praise and reward your dog for good behavior, especially around other dogs and strange people.

Be Your Dog’s Friend

Set aside time each day for play and exercise sessions. It’s fun, provides an outlet for your pup’s energy, and strengthens the bond between each of you.

Choose The Best Dog Toy

The Kong Company Classic dog toy provides “enrichment by helping satisfy your dogs’ instinctual needs. It’s unique natural rubber formula is ultra-durable. Ideal for dogs that like to chew while also fulfilling a dog’s need to play.” Hands down, one of Winnie’s most used, and favored toys.

Another great option is a lick pad. “Lick pads reduce pet anxiety and destruction during bathing, nail trimming, care, or grooming, and keep your pet distracted. And also help your dog develop good grooming habits.”

Plan Activities And Travel With Your Dog

Include your dog in family activities and vacations. Check out our travel check list as well as our featured dog friendly Airbnb accommodations.

Another travel essential is the ThunderShirt. It’s a product that comes, “vet recommended, [and provides a] natural calming solution that helps reduce anxiety in dogs.” Definitely a life saver when traveling for those unforeseen circumstances, and new environments you’re exposing your pooch to.

Get Micro-chipped and Use ID Tags

Your canine should always wear an identification tag with your name, address, and phone number at all times. It’s also a good idea to get your dog micro-chipped. Microchips are a way to permanently identify your dog, and can be invaluable in recovering a lost canine companion.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t love the sound of the dog tags clanking around, especially when you’re trying to sleep. Winnie uses the Sili Dog Tag. They’re silicone, they’re silent, they glow in the dark, and never fade! Can’t beat that.

Be A Responsible Dog Owner And Recognize The Commitment

To truly be a responsible and successful dog owner you must commit to your dog, for life. You’re also accepting the responsibility for your dog’s actions. (yes, this means cleaning up after them, even when you don’t want to) It means taking proper care of your own dog while respecting your community.

The thing about dogs is they undoubtedly make your life better. They make you smile more. They force you to move. They give you unconditional love. Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise that science has shown dogs improve your physical, mental and emotional health.

That being said, before deciding if owning a dog is right for you, be brutally honest with yourself. Are you ready for the financial, emotional, and time commitment owning a dog requires?

Did you just become a new puppy parent or first time dog owner? Comment or share your favorite tips, or products below!

Kara is a dog mama to 3-year-old English Bulldog, Winnie. Winnie and Kara are inseparable. Whether home watching crime documentaries or packing up for their next travel adventure – they are always together. Follow along @winnieroobullydog.

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