Bringing home a new dog is like welcoming in a new member of the family, someone else to create memories and fall in love with. But with such great love comes added responsibilities. More than just buying food and potty training, being a good dog owner means building a positive relationship with your pup. If you’re looking to raise a happy, healthy dog, here are five things you should definitely know.
1. Choose a Dog That Fits Your Lifestyle
You have to be honest with yourself in what you’ll be able to handle and what kind of dog will fit into your already existing conditions. If you’re a very active person, get a dog that will match your energy and make an excellent jogging buddy. If you’re more of a homebody, find a lower maintenance pup that will be happy lounging on the couch next to you. Like people, there will be some dogs that you’re just not compatible with, and that’s okay. Look around for your perfect match.
2. Dogs Don’t Communicate the Way People Do
Dogs and humans, unfortunately, don’t speak the same language, so we rely heavily on reading body language. Pay attention to the way your dog reacts to certain situations and you will learn how to tell when he or she is scared, anxious, or excited. Dogs also use their owner’s body language to understand what they’re supposed to do or feel. Make sure that your movements are corresponding to the commands you’re giving and whether you’re praising or scolding.
3. Dogs Respond to Pack Leadership
As a dog owner, you have to make sure that you are acting as a pack leader. Dogs still rely on their wild instincts for survival, one of which is to follow the pack leader’s commands. You have to present yourself as strong, assertive, and, most importantly, consistent. Set boundaries and house rules immediately, and always enforce them. If you give your dog free reign, they won’t take you seriously and this can lead to many behavior issues.
4. Socialization is Important
One of the best things that you can do for your dog, especially as a puppy, is give he or she the opportunity to interact with other people and animals. These interactions give them positive experiences to relate to new situations, so they are less likely to have behavioral issues, and they will be more comfortable in the future. This is especially crucial if you want a dog that is comfortable with children.
5. A Dog is a Life-long Commitment
The most important thing to remember is that you are making a huge commitment. Your dog depends on you to take care of him or her for the entirety of his or her life—not just the puppy years. This means dedicating the time, energy, and money it takes to give your dog what he or she needs: food, training, vet bills. It also means providing the love and support that your pet needs all the way up until the end. In return, you will have a loyal companion for life.