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15 Mistakes You’re Likely To Make With Your First Dog

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Insufficient finances can be stressful as dogs have many needs.
  • Lack of knowledge about breed, behavior, and health problems can make it difficult to care for a dog.
  • Previous experience with pets may not translate to success with dogs.
  • Time limitations and unexpected challenges can make dog ownership challenging.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Gold medalist veterinary student from UVAS Lahore writes captivating articles and is passionate about animal care.
Published on
Thursday 19 January 2023
Last updated on
Friday 13 October 2023
Mistakes You're Likely To Make With Your First Dog
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Knowing these top mistakes most pet parents do can help you avoid them and do things right with your first dog. This article will guide you through your journey as a first-time dog parent.

In fact, the mistake “number zero” people make is not trusting their vet enough – so make sure you give them a call the second you start worrying about your dog! A good pet insurance cover will also give you peace of mind, so you do not have to hesitate too much between “waiting it out” and “checking with your vet.”

15 First-Time Dog Owner Mistakes

There is no doubt that dogs bring joy to homes. However, if you don’t start training and disciplining them immediately, they may make your household a little less manageable. So to avoid that, here’s a list of the most common mistakes you’re likely to make with your dog. 

1. Not properly training and socializing the dog

Training and socializing may start even before you rehome a dog. However, if not done by the breeder or the previous owner, it is your responsibility to do so. Training your puppy with some simple commands and doing potty training can make both of your life easier. 

Moreover, teaching routine and obedience to dogs at an early age can also help them become well-behaved and less anxious pups. Socialization is a crucial stage as well. They should learn how to interact with other dogs, people, and even other pets. It can help to ensure that they will not become very aggressive in a different environment. 

2. Not understanding the dog’s needs

The needs of a dog do not end in giving it a home. If you get them as a puppy, then they will need plenty of playtime and stimulation. It includes physical exercises, like walking, jogging, and other outdoor activities. Additionally, they also need mental stimulation like puzzle feeders, treat dispensers, and other challenging toys.

Don’t forget the basics! Dogs also need suitable dog food, a dog food bowl, clean water, bedding, grooming needs, vet needs, a carrier or crate, a collar with an ID tag or microchip, some treats, and of course, your attention. 

3. Not getting pet insurance coverage

You will never know when your dog will need veterinary care. Therefore, it is necessary to get a pet insurance policy. There are many dog insurance options in the market, and one of those is Lemonade Dog Insurance. They offer comprehensive coverage that can save you from whopping vet bills.

Moreover, pet insurance policies’ costs and coverage change and even go higher as your dog ages. So, getting insurance coverage for your dog as early as possible and while they are healthy is better

4. Not being consistent

As a dog owner, it is essential to be consistent with the training, rules, and routine. Dogs are like kids in some aspects. They will continue doing it if they notice that they are not being reprimanded for their behavior. Furthermore, it is crucial that dogs know their limits and your expectations of them. 

5. Not providing enough exercise and mental stimulation

To make your dog happy and healthy, they should have enough physical and mental stimulation. Regular physical exercise keeps your dog’s energy level controllable and their body in good shape. Additionally, it prevents them from getting obese.

Furthermore, mental stimulation is as important as physical activities. If your dog doesn’t have enough mental stimulation, it will get bored, stressed, and anxious. It may also lead to aggression and destructive behaviors. 

6. Not being prepared for the time and financial commitment

Getting a dog requires your time, affection, and financial capabilities. This aspect is a good thing to consider even before thinking of owning a dog. You must consider your schedule, activity level, and ability to support a pet.

Some dogs, especially puppies, cannot be left alone at home for long periods. So, if you are out for most of the day, you should ask somebody to look after your dog or make sure that your family members are okay with keeping them company.

Furthermore, owning a dog equals financial commitment. Whether it’s for their food or medical needs, you will need to spend a good amount of money. Therefore, make sure that your bank account is ready especially if you are getting a high-maintenance dog. 

7. Not understanding the importance of spaying or neutering

Aside from ensuring that your dog will not have an unwanted pregnancy or territorial male instincts, spaying and neutering have many health and behavioral benefits. Having your dog neutered or spayed is a sign of being a responsible owner, especially if you are not planning on breeding your dog.

Neutered male dogs are less likely to get into a fight or get testicular cancer and prostate diseases. On the other hand, spaying helps prevent breast tumors, uterine infections, and other cancerous diseases in female dogs. Additionally, it prevents destructive behaviors and aggression in both male and female dogs. 

8. Not properly caring for the dog’s physical and dental health

Dogs are more prone to physical and dental problems if they are not provided with regular grooming and proper vet check-ups. Although dogs’ teeth are naturally strong, they still need dental care and regular check-ups. Vets suggest having your dog’s teeth checked at least once or twice a year.

Moreover, owners should make sure that dogs get their nutritional needs met. Growing pups need balanced nutrition and a percentage of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Make sure to check their dog food’s ingredients and allergen contents.

9. Not using positive reinforcement

Because of a lack of proper training knowledge, some owners resort to a negative way of teaching their dogs. However, studies show that dogs learn efficiently and obey willingly with positive reinforcement. Instilling fear in your dog will not only lessen their trust in you, but they will also be uncomfortable showing their affection, or worse they will be naughtier.

You can use treats or petting as a form of positive reinforcement when your dog obeys your command or behaves accordingly. However, when necessary, you can use time-outs, such as getting your dog’s toys or putting them in a crate. 

10. Not redirecting destructive behaviors

You may find it cute when your dog is biting your hand, feet, the couch, and other things they shouldn’t be nipping on. However, this simple behavior can lead to a destructive one if not redirected. If you notice your dog anxiously nipping on things that are not its toys, then you should immediately do action. 

You may give them some interesting toys or treat puzzles to occupy their time. You may also take them out for a walk for a few minutes.

11. Not making the house dog-proof

Preparing your house for a pet is crucial, especially if it is your first time. Depending on the breed of dog you are getting, do the necessary preparations to ensure that your dog will be safe. Additionally, it will also prevent things from getting destroyed.

Make sure that all human food and medicine toxic to dogs are kept in a high place. Moreover, avoid leaving your trash bins open or easy to access. Ensure that all plugs and sockets are safe for dogs. Furthermore, ensure a designated space for your dog to sleep, pee, and eat

12. Not encouraging them to be independent

Some dog breeds are independent by nature. They can easily get used to the house alone or left alone without being fuzzy. However, some breeds are not. Some may even develop separation anxiety

You should train your dog to be independent but still obedient as soon as possible. They should learn to behave when you are not around or when other people are at home. Independent dogs tend to behave properly and appropriately in different situations than very dependent and anxious ones.

13. Not getting the proper accessories

Getting any collar, leash, harness, muzzle, or other accessories for dogs may seem okay. However, there are certain factors that you should consider when buying some accessories for your dog. 

For instance, if you are buying a leash, you should consider the size of your dog and the type of leash that is suitable for them. Another thing, not all dogs are also used to wearing a muzzle and it may cause some health issues. Therefore, it is necessary to check their mouth and nose type before putting on a muzzle.

14. Not overcoming anxieties 

Some dogs may have bad experiences with their previous owner or from the shelter. Therefore, they may develop anxiety or depression. As the new owner, it is your job to make sure that they can live a happier and freer life

Helping them overcome their anxiety will also help you connect with your dog deeper. Moreover, as you are helping your dog, you may also notice that you are emotionally getting better as well. 

15. Getting another pet immediately

We understand that getting a dog is very exciting. Sometimes, it may even cross your mind to get another one immediately to get the first dog company. However, that is not the best idea. Being a first-time pet owner requires a lot of work and learning. 

Also, you need to ensure that you give your dog enough attention. Aside from preventing jealousy, you can also ensure enough time to be with your first dog. 

Why Do First-Time Dog Owners Find It Hard To Take Care Of a New Dog?

Not all first-time dog owners succeed at taking care of their new pet. That’s why some of those dogs end up in shelters or other families. As a new pet owner, you should know that having a dog at home is not all fun and games. Responsibilities always accompany it.

Here are some reasons why other first-time fur parents find it difficult to take care of their first dog:

Not Enough Knowledge

Some first-time pet parents find it hard to take care of their dogs because they have little to no idea what they are entering in. If you do not know enough about the breed, their personality, behavior, care and nutrition, and common health problems, it will be difficult for both the dog and you.

No Experience 

For some first-time pet parents, experience is what they have as an advantage. Some of them had experience caring for rabbits, cats, or hamsters. Although they have different needs than dogs, owners may know how to deal with other pets better because of previous experiences. 

Inexperienced pet owners may find it challenging to deal with dogs and, later on, fail to take care of them.

Insufficient Finances

Just like what we mentioned above, dogs have many needs. Therefore, you should have enough finances to support them. Some first-time dog owners will not anticipate the cost of having a dog and will be stressed with all the expenses associated with dog ownership.

Time Limitations

Some dog owners find it hard to take care of their dogs because of work, studies, and other responsibilities. Time constraints can make dog ownership a little more challenging. 


Having a dog for the first time can be stressful sometimes. They are also learning as you learn and do many things for your dog. Sometimes they are not learning very fast, and it can be frustrating. 

Other Challenges

Aside from financial, time, and knowledge issues, there may also be some unforeseen challenges in owning a pet. Sometimes, they will need emergency medical attention, they will have behavioral problems, and other unexpected problems that can make dog ownership difficult. 

Owning a dog equals lots of responsibilities and points to remember. Acquiring a dog does not end up in rehoming it. As the owner, you should be able to provide for their basic needs and ensure they feel loved and cared for. Therefore, follow the tips listed above to prevent committing so many mistakes as a first-time dog owner.

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