You volunteer at your local animal shelter. You follow “Doug the Pug” and countless other dog Instagram accounts. You fantasize about picking out a cute dog harness and leash for your future canine companion. And now, you finally think you’re ready to bring home a dog.

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From choosing the right dog food to finding the best veterinarian for your pet, there is a lot to consider between now and the time you welcome your furry friend into your home. You probably have a lot of questions running through your mind, like, “What’s the best way to train my dog?” and “How tight should my dog’s collar be?

Beyond stocking up on basic supplies, reading and knowledge-gathering are the best ways to prepare for your furry friend’s arrival. With that in mind, here are a few things that every new pup parent ought to know.

  1. Not all dog breeds are well-suited to new dog owners

Eyeing a particular breed of dog? Before you decide to bring home a ridiculously cute Husky or Shiba Inu puppy, make sure you do your research on the breed first. The reality is that not all dog breeds are a good choice for first-time dog owners. Working dog breeds can be particularly challenging for novice dog owners due to their high energy requirements and innate desire to have a “job.”

If you want to better understand what owning a particular dog breed is like, consider fostering a dog from a breed-specific shelter. Fostering is a great way to see if you’re ready to take on the responsibility of a dog without the lifelong commitment. Plus, it helps free up valuable space in shelters, which means the shelter can take in more dogs and save more lives!

  1. Puppies require a lot more time and attention than adult dogs

Puppies are stinkin’ adorable, but they’re also a ton of work. In fact, taking care of a brand-new puppy is a lot like taking care of a baby in that your entire schedule will revolve around them (and their tiny bladders!) until they become more independent.

If you’re not ready to handle the rigorous demands of a newborn puppy, consider getting an adult dog instead. Approximately 3.1 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters every year, and many of them are perfectly-good grown-up dogs that desperately need a loving home. By rescuing an adult dog, you can bypass the exhausting puppy phase and help save a life!

Daily exercise can improve many behavioral problems

You've probably heard it before: a tired dog is a good dog. And there's a lot of truth to this saying. When dogs don’t get the mental and physical stimulation they need, they’re more likely to channel this excess energy into unwanted behaviors — like destructive chewing and excessive barking.

One way to curb these unwanted behaviors is by ensuring that your dog’s daily exercise needs are being met. You can sneak in physical exercise by going for walks, playing fetch and climbing the stairs.

Don’t forget to do mental activities to work your dog’s brain! You can mentally stimulate your dog by working on tricks, engaging in nose work games and taking them to a park with lots of activity.

  1. Discourage leash pulling with a no-pull harness

You probably know that taking your dog for walks is essential for their health and well-being. But if you end up getting a young puppy or an adult dog that was never taught to walk nicely on a leash, you may find yourself being taken for a walk instead. Not only is their non-stop tugging frustrating for you, but it’s also hard on your dog’s windpipe.

If you want to take your dog for a walk and not the other way around, try a no-pull harness. Unlike regular dog harnesses that attach to the back, no-pull harnesses attach the leash clip to the front of the dog’s chest. This helps minimize your pup’s ability to tug you around and trains them to walk nicer on a leash, making your daily strolls a million times more enjoyable.

  1. Consider enrolling your dog in an obedience class

First-time dog owners often turn to YouTube to help guide their pup’s training. However, these videos rarely paint a realistic portrayal of the laborious process of training a dog and may not give you all of the tools you and your dog need to succeed.

So, why not take an obedience class instead? Obedience classes offer a host of benefits to new and experienced dog owners alike, including the opportunity to bond with your pup and socialize them in a safe, controlled setting. Additionally, obedience classes can speed up your pup’s training, helping them reach “good boy” or “good girl” status much earlier. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Dogs need an emergency fund, too

You probably already know the importance of stashing money away in a personal emergency fund. This money is meant to cover you in the event of an unexpected emergency that threatens your financial well-being. But did you know that pets need an emergency fund, too?

From chronic illnesses to unexpected injury and disease, there are a lot of unfortunate things that can befall our precious pups. And regrettably, these doggy mishaps often come with huge tabs.

To keep Fido healthy and happy for years to come, experts generally recommend setting aside anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for your pup. You may think that amount is a lot, but when your pup is going through a medical emergency, you won’t think twice about doing anything you can to make their pain and suffering go away. By building up an emergency fund for your pet now, you can save yourself a lot of stress in the future.

  1. Your pup will fill your heart with more love and joy than you ever thought possible

One of the most beautiful things about sharing a life with a dog is that their love is unconditional and pure. When you’re feeling sad, stressed or not worthy of love, your pup will always be there without judgment, ready to shower you with slobbery kisses or simply be a reassuring presence in your life. With this unrivaled level of love and devotion, we can’t help but return the favor in kind!

Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong. – W.R. Pursche