New Dog Owner Guide
1. Which dog food should I get for my dog?
The dog food that is right for your dog will be dependent on two key factors: your dog’s age and size.
Dogs need a combination of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Puppies and older dogs typically need special dog foods formulated for their developing years. Your pet can recommend some excellent suggestions. In the meantime, here are four dog foods highly recommended by their fans for dogs of all ages:
- Taste of the Wild: Puppy Formula
- Hill’s Science: Small Adult Formula
- Nutro Ultra: Large Adult Formula
- Wellness Complete: Senior Formula
2. What snacks can I feed my dog?
You can feed your dog a variety of snacks from your own kitchen or the store.
From the kitchen:
- peeled carrots,
- apple slices,
- or a boiled egg are tasty treats.
You can also create your own dog popsicles or dog biscuits. These homemade dog treats are not time-consuming, but they are tasty! Lastly, you can also order dog treats online or buy them at the store.
We also recommend these store bought treats:
3. What human food should I not give my dog?
Despite old preconceptions, a lot of human food can be given to your dog including many fruits and vegetables. Some of the foods your dog should not eat include:
- Spicy foods (like chili peppers and jalapenos)
- Baby food
- Candy and gum
- Grapes and Raisins
- Peaches and Plums
The majority of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats you eat on any given day are most likely healthy and of good quality for your (e.g. carrots, boiled potatoes, cooked beef (no seasonings),etc).
4. How much should I feed my dog?
How much you feed your dog will depend on their breed, age, and weight. We recommend the dog feeding chart from our friends at PetMD to start:
1. How often do I need to brush my dog’s teeth?
Theoretically, you should brush your dog’s teeth every single day. In some cases, our busy lives can lead us to nearly forget to brush our own teeth, let alone our dogs. If your dog is not yet used to someone opening their mouth each day, it is okay to brush your dog’s teeth 1 to 3 times a week. If this is difficult to manage, try offering your dog dental treats. These dental dog treats can clean the plaque from your dog’s teeth and freshen their breath.
2. How often do I need to brush their coat?
You can brush your dog’s coat every few days.
- When your dog sheds their seasonal coat, you can groom them more often to prevent matting and control their shedding.
- Brushing your dog’s coat helps distribute the oil on their skin through their coat, removes loose hair and dead skin, and prevents matting.
3. How often should I cut my dog’s nails?
Your dog’s nails should be cut every two to three weeks depending on how quickly they grow. We recommend you take your dog to a groomer for nail trimmings. You can visit for a tutorial or to prevent cutting your dog’s nails too short. If you choose to cut your dog’s nails yourself, be very careful! If you cut too far, your dog will yelp in pain and begin bleeding because you have cut their vein (called a quick).
4. How often should I groom my dog?
This is dependent on your dog’s breed and fur length. Ask your local groomer or vet for their recommendation based on your dog’s breed.
- Full and Long-Coated Breeds: About once every month
- Standard Coats: About once every two months
5. How often should I wash my dog?
You should wash your dog about once every one to two weeks.
This will depend on your dog’s breed, outdoor time, and coat. We offered new dog owners a process for washing their dog at our blog. If you find that the process is too time consuming for your taste, you can easily drop off your dog at a local groomer for a quick and affordable dog wash.
1. Does my dog need all these vaccines?
Your dog’s breed and exposure to new places and dogs, will determine whether or not your dog will need every vaccine offered. Vaccines are considered safe and effective by veterinarians. Typically, for travel or dog registration, you will need to have your dog’s vaccinations completed. It is best to align with your state’s laws and your veterinarian’s recommendations.
2. When should we spay her or neuter him?
We recommend you should spay or neuter your dog around 6 months of age (before they reach sexual maturity). Many dogs are euthanized due to overpopulation. It is important to get your dog spayed or neutered to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives.
3. Does my dog need a parasite pills? What about a flea and tick collar?
Check to see if you live in a heartworm endemic area (e.g southeastern and northeastern US).
- If you live in an area that has a lot of heartworm incidences, we definitely recommend preventative parasite doses. Similarly, flea and tick collars are dependent on the area you live in.
If there are greater incidences of these parasites, protect you and your dog from them.
4. Should I microchip my dog? When?
We recommend you microchip your dog.
Here’s why we recommend microchipping:
- In the case that they are ever lost, a microchip will be a defining answer between whether your dog is able to return home or not.
- Microchips are convenient and inexpensive (about $50).
- After about two months of age, your dog should be able to be microchipped – early on!
1. How long until my dog is house trained?
Assuming you have a new puppy, your dog should be housetrained by about 4 months. If you are still having trouble after four months, try getting additional professional help. Your dog should be house trained by six months at most.
2. Why is my dog barking and howling at night?
Typically, puppies and dogs getting used to their new environment make extra noise as they begin to acclimate to their new home. They have been taken to a new and strange place, and no matter how welcoming you are, dogs need time to adapt. There is no need to cuddle them at every whim. Do your best to find a balance.
3. How do I socialize my dog?
Socialize your dog by taking them to new places each day.
- You can start by introducing your dog to their new neighborhood.
- The next day, you can take your dog to a park.
- The day after the park, you can take your dog to a café.
Slowly introduce your new dog to greater amounts of people at any given time (i.e. work up from your neighborhood, to a park, to a café, to an outdoor mall, etc). This will slowly get your dog used to being around strangers, children, and other animals.
4. Where should my dog sleep?
Your dog can sleep anywhere you both please. There is no true harm in your dog sleeping in your bed. If your dog gets bigger and will take up too much space, or your dog disrupts your sleep, you can buy them a dog bed. Otherwise, your dog can sleep by your side through the night.
5. Canine vocal communication: what is my dog saying?
- Barking: Barking usually signals another dog or individual. Your dog may be saying “hello”, “watch out”, “this is mine”, or a variety of other things. Using your dog’s body language you can tell whether your dog is barking because they feel elated or nervous.
- Excessive Barking: Sometimes dogs bark excessively due to separation anxiety or other neurotic behaviors. By teaching your dog “shhh” or “quiet” you should be able to stop the barking from being excessive.
- Growling: Growling is typically a defense signal or a threat towards another being that says “stay back”. Sometimes dogs are pet in places where it hurts or when their ears are tugged.
6. How do I get my cat and dog to get along?
- Make sure the cat is free to run and hide if it wants. Otherwise, if they feel threatened and cornered they may hit your dog with a sharp paw to the nose. Restrain your dog and consider putting boundaries up (e.g. baby gates).
- Do not force your cat and dog to socialize together. Instead, let them take their time getting acclimated to each other.
- Lastly, try to anticipate the behavior of your cat and dog based on their personalities and age. Following these tips can help keep your pets safe, and your home calm and welcoming.[/accordion][/tm_accordion]