Husband and I thinking about becoming FIRST TIME dog owners…

posted 2 years ago in Pets
Post # 2
5222 posts
Bee Keeper

Oh my goodness, I could write a novel now haha… but I will try to keep this short and sweet:

(1) Above all else, be patient! The new dog needs time to get used to you, and you need time to get used to him or her. This doesn’t always happen as quickly as you would like! We have 2 adopted dogs, one we got when he was 2 years old and the other was 7 months old when we got him. They each took different times to “adjust” to the surroundings. 

(2) Utilize a trainer if you feel you’re kind of getting overwhelmed with the dogs ( or your) behavior. If the dog is being too aggressive or too timid, has trouble with basic commands or is being destructive, you can find trainers through the Humane Society that can help

(3) Be consistent. They are like babies, they need routine, routine, routine! That includes plenty of exercise in their routine if they are a puppy or an active breed. A tired dog is a good dog lol, and a dog who knows what is expected of them and what to expect is also a good dog!


Good luck!

PS– don’t let them start sleeping in the bed with you unless you’re prepared to give up your pillow 🙂 I decided that “one night wouldn’t hurt” and that was almost 3 years ago.

Post # 3
2107 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

My family had a yorkie for a little bit (he got hit by a car and got really aggressive afterwards and attacked people and had to be put down), but from what I remember he was pretty ok on short walks in the winter. I live in the midwest too so I know exactly what you’re talking about. We did have a miniature schnauzer for about 16 years that was AWESOME. He was great with kids, great in winter, etc…

My one advice for “small” dogs is to not go easy on them, training wise, just because they are small. Little dogs with bad attitudes are terrifying.

My FI and I recently adopted a puppy, both being first time dog owners (never been fully responsible for training a dog by ourselves) and do not recommend. They are the worst (I say this as a frustrated owner. I promise I love my puppy, but I also hate her sometimes! LOL)

Post # 4
5482 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

Diamond84:  Yay! Might I add a plug for rescuing a small breed? Put in your zip code and size preference to and see what turns up 🙂

I have 3 toy poodles mixes. VERY minimal shedding, decent health, smart, and no – they dont get too cold in the winter. I just pop them in sweaters for walks! Good luck!

Post # 5
710 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

If you dont want a shedder/want easy maintenance dont get a maltese. I have one and unless you keep the fur short you need to brush them every other day. 

For the cold, my maltese x shi tzu has only just started to be affected by cold at 8 years old, keep in mind I live in Australia.  

Make sure you get a low energy dog if you have an apartment woth no big yard, so jack russels, beagles or anything that needs a lot of exercise. 

The younger the easier to train so I’d probably aim for less than 3 yo.

Good luck this is a super exciting time for you! 

Post # 6
4649 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Diamond84:  I have 4 rescued dogs and I 2nd what a PP said. You will need PATIENCE. For him to get used to you and his new surroundings and your expectations. You also say you want this, this, and this, but just know that truly it is work. It likely won’t just all fall into place and you have to be committed to accepting the good with the bad. Will he chew your shoes? Maybe. If you leave them out. Will he pee on your carpet a couple times? Maybe, it’s a new environment for him. Will he shed? YES. I don’t think there’s any dog that’s shed free, even the short haired ones shed. You just have to accept that he might not be perfect. I’m in the Midwest, too, and last winter was especially horrible. I’ll say my latest dog, a skinny 13 pounder had a very very hard time going outside. He was cold! Yes, he had a sweater, but it’s not as easy as just throwing it on him. And what about their feet? I don’t blame them for not wanting to go outside. Winters here are tricky. Just keep asking questions so you’ll be prepared for most anything. Good luck! Love mah pups!!

Post # 7
361 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

Diamond84:  Like Mrs_Amanda, I could write a novel to you!  But I won’t.  Instead I’ll just say congrats (!!) and offer a few words of advice.  

(1) Adopt.  There are small breed rescue groups.

(2) Training, training, training.  I have both self-trained and used PetSmart.  I recommend a combo of both.  In the past, socializing the dogs in the group training at PetSmart was an added bonus, while I was able to work on more specific training (i.e. my dogs sit when they come to a street, heel while crossing the street, stop while I’m picking up after them, etc.) with training treats.

(3) It’s very easy to walk dogs in the winter. All you need is a dog coat and something to protect pooch’s feet from salt.  Instead of booties, I use a protective balm for puppy feet.

(4) If you want a young dog, adopt a housetrained pooch who is NOT a puppy.  Puppies are difficult to train, and I do not recommend puppies to first-time pup owners.

(5) Find a dog walker in your area.  Some of the smaller breeds have a lot of energy and benefit from getting a walk during the day.  I like my dogs to exercise as much as possible, so I walk them once in the morning, once at night, and then a dog walker comes in the afternoon to walk while I’m at work.  

(6) Interview vets.  When I move to a new place, I Yelp the area’s vets and call a handful of them to get the following info: How much do annuals cost? Do you have an in-house pharmacy? How many vets are there? What are your weekend hours, and do you recommend a pet ER for after hours? May I come take a tour?  I never use a vet without touring the office first.  I like to know where my dog will be kept, if the place is clean, etc.

(7) Prepare to feed the dog good dog food, not people food.  Feeding a dog table scraps is a good way for a pup to get pancreatitis — not sure this is a proven fact (sorry), but it’s been my experience.

Whoa, that started to turn into a novel! Last but not least, collar/microchip/spay/neuter!!  Congrats again!

Post # 8
561 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Yorkies HATE the cold. They’re also really hard to get completely potty trained since they have tiny little bladders. That being said, mine would go to the bathroom immediately on the deck (not even make it to the yard lol) and then run back into the house before I could close the door. They’re amazing little dogs though, I’ll get another one eventually. 

Post # 9
220 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

I’ve had dogs my entire life and helped friends get their first dogs too. Here’s some tips based on what you wrote:

1. The 3 breeds you listed all grow long hair so they have longer shedding cycles, which means they do shed just not as often as short haired dogs. If you take it to the groomer regularly for haircuts you will probably not see too much shed hair and you won’t have to brush them every couple of days. Short haired breeds actually shed more. The only dogs that don’t shed are curly coated dogs like poodles.

2. You can just adjust the walk to the temperautre. Go for shorter walks when it’s cold and just find something else to occupy them on those days. Yuo can throw a ball in the house for a bit or give them a tasty bone/chewy in the afternoon.

3. Dogs are great with kids if you teach them to be great with kids. They need positive experiences and lots of exposure. A shelter dog or rescue will sometimes list the dogs as kid-friendly or not based on what they have seen or has been reported by a previous owner.

4. Get a dog trainer and go to classes for the first 3-6 months of ownership. Training a dog does not come naturally to most people. It does not matter how trainable the dog is if you’re doing it wrong 🙂

5. I also agree with everyone else, you will need to be more patient than you ever thought! Most shelter dogs take a year to become fully integrated and comfortable with a new family. Although you will see improvements throughout the entire time.



Post # 10
9526 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

My advice would be that, when picking a dog, put more of an emphasis on personality and behavior, rather than looks. 

Post # 11
361 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

sillygoat:  Ditto!  When I was living in the Midwest, it was all I could do to get puppy ON the porch, let alone in the yard!  I’d start putting on his little doggy coat, and he’d go all “I’m dead weight” on me before we could even head out for a walk!

Post # 12
2501 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

stephncollins: great advice on the no puppy for new owners. Puppies are really really difficult. What floor of the apartment do you live on? Potty training a puppy is hard enough without having to climb flights of stairs.

  Diamond84:  Since you live in an apartment I do not reccomend getting an active breed. When you go to the shelter, bring them your list of qualities you want and they will guide you to a suitable dog. Maybe look at ‘older’ dogs like 4 or 5 who have had exposure to kids?

There are plently of already trained, great dogs out there. Contact some shelters and see what they have 🙂 Most dogs are surrendered because people move or can’t afford their dogs any more, or get sick and need hospice/nursing home care.

Post # 13
34 posts

First time dog owner here! We just adopted an 8 month old yorkie/ norfolk terrier mix this summer and he is such a sweetheart!

I was really nervous about geting a dog because I had never had one before even though, like you, I had wanted one all my life. Everyone kept saying dogs were so hard to take care of, expensive, a pain to clean up after, blah blah blah. But I have to say it’s not that bad. As long as you are dedicated to being a good caregiver, everything else comes naturally. Of course you have to feed them, walk them, bathe them, but that is a given. 🙂

The biggest thing I would tell you is GET PET HEALTH INSURANCE! I cannot stress this enough. Our poor puppy already had to have hip surgery for a rare genetic disease and has racked up thousands of dollars in vet bills. And we’ve only had him for two months! But thankfully, we got insurance when we adopted him, and they cover 90% of things like that. We got HealthyPaws, but there are many companies to choose from. I promise it is worth the $20-$30 a month. 

Good luck on your dog hunt! 

Post # 14
2 posts

I can’t say much about small dogs – I have a 12 year old Weimaraner and she is my smallest dog, the others I had were Bernese Mountain Dogs and a Hovawart (I know, hardly anyone knows a Hovawart!!). But I used to live next door to a small poodle and he was adorable, with great personality. And put up wih 3 small children living with him.

If you decide to get a pedigree dog, even if you rescue one, I would suggest you do loads of research. List the things you want – for instance if long walks every day in all weathers isn’t you, don’t get a springer spaniel. Go see breeders, back in the UK I went to loads of dog shows, including Crufts, just to meet people who owned the dogs. Most reputable breeders will tell you the truth about the breed and find you a owner nearby to you to visit – preferably a pet owner, rather than another breeder. And ask about the winters, some dogs are just more hardy than others, even the small ones!!

And I agree with everyone else, patience – loads – to train a dog. If you get an older dog as rescue, even more patience. And don’t give up too quickly, a well trained dog is a real joy to own. Just keep going, be consistent, don’t expect it to happen overnight and also accept some flaws. For example, neither of my Bernese stole food, but a friend with a Bernese from the same breeder did. Maybe it was the difference in training but I saw this dog in action and I really think he just enjoyed doing it. My friend spent a fortune on dog trainers with no change to the dog, but finally just accepted it and was just more careful what she did with food, never leaving food out to be stolen.

Personally, I have always used a crate (a very big one for my dogs), and locked the puppy in overnight and when you go out. It may sound cruel, but it really does help. They seem to treat it like a den and once they are used to it, leave the door open and they will go into it anytime of the day and night. My dog is lying in it right now, very happy.

Good luck – hope you find the right dog for you

Post # 15
445 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I would say get some training books, read articles on the internet- just in general do your research!  Asking here is a great start 🙂

Once you have some breeds in mind- research their “typical” personalities.  Some breeds are “generally” better with kids than others, but most of the personality you get out of a dog is what you put in.  You need to train your dog.  I would recommend classes, like at PetSmart.  They basicaly train you how to train your dog.  It’s interesting because a lot of things you would want to instinctually do as a human (comforting a scared puppy in a thunderstorm) is the exact opposite of what you really should do.  If you comfort your scared puppy when it starts thundering, your telling them yes, you have a reason to be scared and they will continue to be scared every time it storms.  If you ignore the thunder and act like nothings wrong puppy will start to learn that thunderstorms aren’t something to be afraid of.  

Good luck! 🙂

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