October 17, 2018 3 min read 0 Comments

Did you know that there are about70 million pet dogs in the United States? Nearly half of them are small dogs. These numbers are proof that pets are an important part of millions of American families. Making the decision to adopt a dog, even a little dog, is one of the best things many families can do, and while a new dog can be a fun addition to the household, it’s important to keep in mind that they require a lot of care, attention, and love. If you’ve never had a dog before, it’s imperative to do some research and educate your family on the best ways to care for a dog in order to keep everyone safe and happy.

It’s also important to prepare your home for a small dog and prepare your family as well. Owning a small pup can be a lot of work, so you’ll need to think long and hard about whether you have the patience, the time, and the financial resources to have one.

Here are a few of the best tips for first-time dog owners.

Think of the what-ifs

Think about all the things you’ll need to do and possibly change once you welcome a little dog into your home, especially if you’re interested in a puppy that will need a lot of attention and training. Do you have the time to put into a dog? Is your budget animal-friendly? How often will someone be home during the day to let the dog out for a potty break? Will you need to hire a dog walker or arrange for doggie daycare while you’re at work?

"Dogs are expensive, long-lasting, energetic, mess-making, wily, strong-willed, noisy, hairy beings that hopefully will steal your heart and your bed; but, if you are unsure if you are up for the long-term commitment... then don't commit," advises pet ownerDebra DiTolla.

Be honest about your lifestyle

If you and your family tend to spend the weekends relaxing, or if you work long hours and don’t have the energy at the end of the day to take a dog for a walk or out to play, you’ll need to take that into consideration when thinking about what type of pet to get. It’s also a good idea to do some research on different small breeds, their needs, and any common health issues they may have. Remember, some small dogs are very energetic and require daily exercise.

Prepare your home for your little dog.

It’s important to think about where your furry friend will be spending themost time during the first few weeks of being in your home, especially if you’re adopting a dog that has spent time with a different family. He or she may become anxious due to the new surroundings and forget about being house trained, so it might be a good idea to grab some puppy pads at the store.

Have everything your doggy needs ready to go before you bring him home: food and water bowls, a leash, a collar, bedding, and a kennel or some baby gates are a great start. Also think about the items you’ll want on hand now that you’ll have a furry friend - namely, cleaning supplies and tools. If you don’t have one already, a cordless vacuum can be a lifesaver in helping you stay ahead of pet hair and dander on floors and furniture. Cordless vacuums make it easy toclean on the fly without having to pull out your heavy duty vacuum. It’s especially important when bringing home a new pet to keep on hand an arsenal of non-toxic,pet-friendly cleaners to help you keep surfaces fresh and hygienic should your new companion have an accident.

Get educated on your pet’s health

While many dogs are perfectly healthy throughout most of their lives, some need more medical attention and have more health issues than others. Dog breeds withflat faces (like Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Pekingese) can have trouble breathing, whilelarge dogs can have issues with joint health. Do someresearch on different breeds and what their needs are so you won’t have any heartbreaking surprises down the road.

Remember that your new little dog is getting used to you while you’re getting used to him or her, so try to stay patient and give the pup time and space. Teach your children about the importance of treating the new small doggie with care, being gentle and calm, and letting the dog dictate playtime for everyone’s safety.

Guest post by Jessica Brody. Visit Our Best Friends to read more of Jessica's work.