Choosing and caring for your first dog

May 11, 2021 3:35:06 AM

In this instalment of our blog, we are going to be discussing the very exciting prospect of your first dog!

The shelves are lined with lots of helpful books and there are some excellent websites providing advice on various aspects of dog ownership but, here today, we will touch on some of the most important areas that will leave no stone unturned when it comes to being prepared for your new arrival! Going out to buy all the ‘firsts’ such as a new bed, harness, toys, food and treats is an exciting time, and our Trophy Nutritional Advisors have put together a range of topics you may not have considered…

 

Choices, choices, choices…

Depending on what stage you are at in making that leap into first-time dog ownership, you may have already chosen your breed, or you may still be pondering between a few that have caught your eye.

If you are yet to make your choice, there are several important considerations including:

  • size
  • coat type
  • energy / temperament

Firstly, size is important to consider as, the bigger the dog, the more space is often required. Of course, this runs on a sliding scale with energy requirements, as a smaller, more energetic Spaniel for example, may require more space than an older Greyhound who is satisfied with a daily 20-minute walk.

Coat type is a factor to consider too, with some breeds having a short single coat, to others with long, double coats that require more maintenance and grooming, as well as shedding, which may increase your home cleaning requirements. Some specific breeds such as a Poodle, a Bichon Frise and the Afghan Hound require professional grooming attention which can be costly across the dog’s life.

Next, we will chat more about energy. There are certainly breeds or breed groups that have generally higher energy levels; it is important to note the generalisation here and, of course, this can vary from dog to dog. It can be suggested that breeds such as Spaniels and Border Collies are more widely known for their higher than average energy levels, yet it is a common misconception that breeds such as Labradors and Poodles do not also require plenty of exercise. A common trait here is the traditional working ‘use’ of the breed and it can be easy to forget this heritage especially with the more modern cross-breeds that we are seeing today, for example, the Cockerpoo is actually a cross of two traditionally high energy dogs. As well as physical exercise, dogs require plenty of mental stimulation which could include the use of puzzle games, scent work, reward-based training and other activities; this will prevent your dog from becoming bored and potentially destructive.

 

Tips for first-time dog owners

Of course, you may already have your first dog and be reading this article wondering what could benefit your new companion the most: we have put together a few tips:

  1. Prior to bringing your first dog home, it would be useful to contact a local dog trainer: most would be happy to advise on various aspects of training for puppies and adult dogs. Training is not all about obedience and what a dog should and should not do. It is also an excellent opportunity to build a bond of trust and a happy partnership between pet and owner. With training basics in place, you can build on these and provide mental stimulation for your dog. Different aspects of your dog’s lifestyle are up to your individual preference such as crate training, walking to heel, being allowed on sofas or upstairs, for example.
  1. Food is an important aspect of your pet’s life and, with so many types and brands on the market, it can be a minefield when looking for a quality dog food for your new pet. It is important to choose a good quality food that your dog enjoys as well as providing one that has all the correct nutrients to support growth, coat quality, and moderate energy levels. Here at Trophy, all our foods are ‘complete’ meaning that if you feeding to recommended levels, your dog will receive all the nutrients they need without the need for additional supplementation. Our Nutritional Advisers deliver your food direct to your door, they can provide personal food advice for your pet to ensure you are feeding the most suitable food.
  1. Aside from all the choices you make regarding their lifestyle once in your care, there is one sure fact that your new dog, young puppy, or older dog will appreciate - a calm, warm environment in which they feel safe and secure. Providing them with ‘their own space’ can help them do this, too much human contact can overwhelm them, so, allowing them to come to you for comfort and reward can prevent this. It is important to remember that if you are getting a puppy, they have just left their mother and litter mates and this can be a stressful time for these youngsters. If you are getting an older dog, a home or environment change is also a stressful experience with a new routine, new home, and possibly several other changes all going on at once.

 

Tips from our Nutritional Advisers:

  • Trophy’s Julie Johnson from Wakefield has this top tip for first-time dog owners: ‘’Slowly introduce as many new things as possible to your puppy before they are 12 weeks old, this is the magic age when fear starts to take over. Gradually introduce people, dogs, vacuum cleaners, sweeping brushes, bicycles, loud noises. Hopefully, by doing this before the 12-week point, you will eliminate unwanted fear-driven behaviour later and your pup will have more confidence entering the big world!”
  • Trophy’s Marion Clemens from Wessex has this top tip for first-time dog owners: ‘’Frequently step out of the room and leave pup on its own for just a few seconds, building to a minute or two. Make sure pup is in a safe place and, when you come back into the room, leave it a few seconds before you greet the pup. It is a way of teaching that all is fine, your calm energy will be saying that it is OK to be alone, as we always reunite. This goes a long way toward more peaceful nights and helps to prevent separation anxiety.”
  • Search for your local Nutritional Adviser here.
  • Matt’s (MD of Trophy Pet Foods) top tip. “Don’t forget that bringing a new furry family home shouldn’t be stressful, it should be a fun and rewarding experience. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your dog will be. I found this fun but informational video from our stateside pet-loving friends which I hope makes you smile as much as it did me”.

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