13 Best Tips For New Dog Owners

I love dogs… always have. I grew up with my best friend, a black lab named Keeka. She slept in my bed, I sat in her box to play games, we played basketball against each other and this bouncy ball game where I threw the ball onto the slanted roof and we both tried to get it first. From there we added a yellow lab named Bo and it’s been dogs ever since. I even have an instagram for my dog @wiggins_the_pug who has 1,000 followers, I’m obsessed. He goes everywhere with me and we won’t have it any other way.

My grandparents had dogs, my brother has had 4 labs, my sister has a staffy-pitbull mix and naturally I have a pug. I have dog sat countless number of times and helped train puppies here and there. Now my tips are completely anecdotal as I am not a vet nor am I a pro dog trainer… however, I have been told my dog is the best behaving dog they have ever seen. Note: he isn’t… but he is a pretty well behaved dog, just overly excitable and full of energy like his owner.

With that said, over the 30+ years of dog life I have come up with some great tips for what to do and what not to do when you have a dog. There are some great tips on how to potty train puppies, dogsitter ideas and how to make sure you have the happiest dog you can have. Remember, you wanted this dog and dogs are a huge responsibility, do not get one unless you are going to give it tons of love and attention.

Tips For Potty & House Training a Puppy

First and foremost positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog. Instead of punishing poor behavior, reward positive behavior. Dogs sense moods and love when you are happy with them and excited. Take them outside and if they go potty then get pumped as if they won the Puppy Bowl, even give them a treat.

Just like people, dogs respond much better to positivity than negativity. Dogs hate to disappoint their owner more than anything and love to make you happy so remember that. Be VERY attentive to them in the early months so you can rush them outside when they appear to have to go potty… the more attention = the less accidents/punishments and the more going to the bathroom outside/positive reinforcement.

How to potty train or house train a puppy? There are more than a few ways to skin the… ummm… There are lots of ways to train dogs and I prefer the dog run method. This is completely anecdotal and as mentioned I am not a pro. However, I have dog sat for lots of puppies and I have found a great way to train them is via a dog run vs. a crate. People swear by crate training and I just feel too bad for the animal.

Here is what happens when you try to let them just hangout in the open area with no boundaries

I will set up a small dog run in a hallway where they live when I am gone. This is also where they go to timeout if/when they have accidents, chew or anything else. Obviously I try to make sure they go to the bathroom before I leave to work and immediately when I get back, cheering and giving them training treats each time!

However, if you leave, then place them in the smaller space but still 4-5x or more the space of a crate. There is even a spray (or use vinegar and cayenne pepper) to put on the corners of walls or door frames if your puppy is thinking about chewing those. When home, if my puppy starts chewing or anything, he goes into timeout in his area. Within a week the puppy will understand it doesn’t want to be in the run area or away from you then starts to comprehend consequences and learns right from wrong. Again, this is as much or more on you than it is the puppy, give it attention and love or you shouldn’t have gotten one in the first place!

Go a step further, my brother will sleep with the new puppies the first nights and every time they even think to go to the bathroom he is taking them outside. This again aligns with the “pay extra attention to your puppy” philosophy.

Things To Keep In Mind When You Give Your Dog To A Babysitter

This is something you don’t want to learn the hard way. I also only like to use consistently the same 2-3 people to watch my dog as they have learned to understand him and he is comfortable with them since they take great care of him. You need to be as specific as possible with anyone who watches your dog and give them the “must dos” or else don’t let them watch your dog.

Make sure you show them how much to feed the dog and when, how many times and how long minimum to exercise them, any dog issues and also dog proof their house. Dog issues, such as heat issues with pugs is obviously a big one you need to tell someone who may not know about brachycephalic dogs.  Someone watching your dog may have never had a dog and doesn’t know about walking on hot cement and their paws… be sure to go over all the important stuff.

Dog proofing their house is a big one. Since he was a puppy I knew Wiggins loved mint things and underwear. Ever since then I always make sure chapstick, underwear and such are never on the floor. He has never had the option to grab at chapstick or underwear for years now. However, he will go to a new house and it isn’t slightly dog proof… so there goes the chapstick. I feel bad as it truly is no one’s fault… he has just never been around any of it for so long. Mouse traps were another one haha, thankfully Wiggins’ nose was too short to get caught but he had never seen a mouse trap before until the babysitters… just something to think about.

Curbing Poor Dog Habits (that you created)

It is cute when your little 3-month-old St. Bernard puppy is jumping up to greet you… it isn’t cute when your 100lb+ dog is jumping up on every person who walks by or in the door. While lots of things dogs do are cute when they are a puppy, it isn’t long before this becomes a habit and they think it is how they are supposed to act or how they should act.

Sure, the puppy sleeping in your bed is great and all… but what happens when it’s enormous and you don’t want it in the bed or maybe on the couch. Keep in mind everything it learns as a puppy will stick in their mind as “how things are and always should be”… kind of like an old Republican. Start to make sure your puppy knows proper etiquette early or it will stick forever, as they say “old dogs can’t learn new tricks.”

Be a Responsible Dog Owner!

I apologize in advance as this is going to be a little negative but… There are too many irresponsible dog owners ruining everything for us good dog owners. Parks, hiking areas, home rentals, airplanes and more are being less and less dog friendly due to assholes that don’t have control over their dog or moreseo just don’t care or have respect for others.

I am one of the biggest dog lovers on earth… but I have had it with people who aren’t controlling their pets and it is screwing everything for the rest of us. If you are new to having a dog please use this article, be cordial and considerate to others, and this will also help people not hate you.

Keep Your Dog On A Leash

Every good hike within the Phoenix city has been shut down over the last two years due to jerks who have their dogs off a leash or dogs that leap at every person passing by on a thin trail. Unless your dog is old and doesn’t leave your side, or if they aren’t immaculate off the leash, then keep them on a leash everywhere in public! My best friend’s dog is old and doesn’t leave her side, my brother’s dogs are immaculate off the leash… however my dog still wants to say hi to everyone so I keep him on a leash in most places.

If your dog isn’t trained to ignore people or not lunge at them then don’t take them in crowded places. This includes airports, busy hiking trails, malls, or wherever else you are making people uncomfortable. I repeat, my dog is a well behaved dog but still be a pain in the ass so I keep him on the leash in busy places.

Temperatures And Your Dog

What temperature is too hot for a dog. Most adult dogs are good at 90 degrees however brachycephalic dogs like pugs, chow chows, Shih Tzus, bulldogs and more struggle past 80 due to their breathing conditions.

What temperature is too hot to walk a dog? If you are exercising them then this temperature drops another 10 degrees across the board to 80 degrees for standard adult dogs and 70 for dogs with breathing issues. Listen to your dog, they will tell you! However, of course if you have a puppy then be extra careful.

What temperature is the street too hot to walk a dog? The best rule is to rest your hand on the pavement for 10 seconds and if it is too hot for you then it is too hot for your dog. If it is 77 degrees outside it is 125 degrees on the street. If the temperature is above 70 degrees it is suggested to only walk them on pavement/asphalt/astroturf/brick/concrete/track before 8am and after 8pm.

Do Not Lock Your Dog In A Car

Is there a temperature in a car that is okay for dogs? Short answer is “no.” Surely ideal temperatures not too cold and not over 60 degrees might be okay but still you should try to always leave your dog at home. When it is just 70 degrees outside, a car can heat up to 90 degrees in just 10 minutes and 105 in 30 minutes.

Currently, 20+ states have laws that either make it illegal to leave a dog unattended in a parked vehicle, or grant private citizens immunity from being held liable for damages resulting from freeing the dog, if it’s obvious the dog is at risk of injury or death.

Be Aware Of Your Breed And Do Your Research

You definitely need to do your homework before getting a dog. Research all potential health issues, behavior with children, energy levels, exercise needs per day and bugaboos. Nothing is worse than a dog owner who gets a lab or large highly active dog that keeps it in an apartment all day and walks it for 10-20 minutes.

Another great example is my pug. Pugs have a couple of huge issues that you absolutely have to know. As mentioned pugs are brachycephalic with their smushed noses and this makes it significantly harder for them to breathe and get rid of heat since dogs release heat through panting and their nose. Pugs also have a small trachea that is high susceptible to collapsing, which means you CANNOT use a standard leash with a pug and need to have a harness that pulls on its chest, not its neck.

With all of that said, do you research and provide the very best environment for your dog. Don’t get a large active dog if you don’t have time for it… heck don’t get a dog at all if you don’t have time for it. While you have work, friends, the TV, social events, sports games… a dog only has you and you are their source of activity, happiness, excitement and love.

Barking & Being Considerate

Raise your hand if you have neighbor dogs in a yard next to you barking all hours of the day and night. Dear owner, while you may be okay with it and used to it, your neighbor hates you. Have some consideration for your neighbor. Some people work nights as well, so having your dog outside barking the entire day isn’t that nice either. Yes, dogs will bark here and there, which is fine. Longer than 2-5 minutes straight and often is too much… let alone an hour!

Human Food For Dogs

One more thing, be careful of any human food you give your dog as random things like celery can cause choking or grapes are awful for dogs, don’t just give them anything! You never know what is bad for them even though it is okay to humans. While you should really try not to give them human food… you absolutely have to research anything before you give it to them.

Pick Up Your Dog’s Poop

This is a no brainer but… clean it up. People who don’t put away their grocery carts or pick up their dogs poop should be put down… it’s just lazy. I get there is once in a blue moon you dropped your poop bags or forgot them, we have all been there. However, being a good human means what you do when no one is watching.

Sure it is just one dog but imagine if everyone did that! It’s just rude and inconsiderate. Don’t let your dog poop or pee on sidewalks or where people walk… people walk over it and carry this into their homes, or yours!

Emotional Support Animals

If you can’t tell there are a plethora of more dogs in airports every year and more airlines are becoming more strict on ESA’s. Look, I get it, the costs to fly your pet are sometimes more expensive than your flight itself. Also, a lot of us have our own issues where an ESA truly helps.

This part isn’t to call out fraudulent ESA people but more so to say that they need to stop abusing it. If your dog cannot behave extremely well, it should not be an ESA animal. There are plenty of people afraid of dogs in the world so be mindful of that. Keep your smaller dogs in a bag under the seat if they are not 100% perfectly behaved and just have the flap open.

Make them Comfortable

I didn’t really have much to say on this one, I just thought my old picture was funny. However, as mentioned all have is you and all they know is from what you show to always give them attention, love and boundaries.

Hope you liked this article and please share any ideas you love in regards to training puppies or owning dogs. Let me know in the comments below you favorite tips!


Hola! I’m Fraser & this site is a guide to help you reach your goals, travel the world and create amazing food in between. Get inspiration for travel, recipes & to follow your dreams.

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