Top Tips for First-Time Dog Owners

Welcoming a four-legged friend into your family is incredibly exciting. From countless games of fetch to endless snuggles, your new dog will become part of the family.  However, it doesn’t come without hard work. You’re bringing an animal into your home who’ll rely on you for care and attention which is a huge commitment.

With this in mind, we asked our Co-op Insurance Facebook users their top tips for first time dog owners. We’ve compiled their handy hints into a helpful guide to help you prepare for the arrival of your furry friend.

Carry on reading to find out how to prepare for first time dog owners or click here to read our handy hits for first time cat owners.  


Before you decide on a dog, be prepared to do a ton of research.

With so many different dog breeds, you may be tempted to go for the cutest. However, bear in mind each dog breed comes with their own unique temperament, and with that, their own challenges. Some dogs will need more exercise, whereas some dogs will need more attention. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself in for before you make the leap.

You should also consider whether a dog will fit into your lifestyle. Make sure you have the time to commit to being a dog parent. If you spend most of your time in an office, chances are your new dog will be spending most of its time alone. If this is the case, maybe you should reconsider whether a dog is the best pet for you. You should also be mindful of your surroundings. If you live in a flat, you should probably avoid getting a large dog (as tempting as those big dog snuggles may be!).

Buy the basics

From food to beds, and toys to treats, be prepared to open your wallet for your new pooch. While you may be tempted to buy the entire pet shop for your new dog, start with the basics and go from there.

We recommend:

  • Food – an obvious one! Try your dog on wet and dry food to see what it prefers. Once you know what your dog prefers, you can start thinking about a food plan for your dog.
  • Collar with identification tag – this means that should anything happen to your dog, people know who to contact.
  • Bowls – One for water and one for food.
  • Lead – You’re going to be doing plenty of walking! Remember to keep your dog on a lead at all times – just because your dog is okay with other dogs, doesn’t mean all dogs are.
  • Poop bags – You don’t want to leave the house without them!


Whether you’re buying a pup or adopting an older dog, chances are they’ll need some kind of training. You should always use positive reward-based training when teaching your dog new things.

If you need to toilet train your dog, be prepared for accidents. However frustrating it may be, remember to be patient and never shout, they are still learning.

If you are able to, we recommend going to professional dog training classes. Not only are they incredibly rewarding for both dog and owner, but the trainer can give you hints and tips to help you train your dog effectively and provide advice you probably hadn’t thought of.


As with humans, dogs need regular exercise to stay fit and health – at least one walk or run every day. Not only does it give you a chance to bond with your dog, it also means you can get out and explore your local area.

If you have a puppy, exercise should be limited depending on the breed. You should gradually increase the amount your puppy exercises on a month by month basis, until they’re around 18 months old. If you have an older dog, it’s just as important to take them for regular walks. Swap one long walk for a couple of short walks a day.

The important stuff

Your dog needs to be microchipped as soon as possible. Under the microchipping law that came into effect in 2016, all dogs and puppies must be microchipped and registered by the age of eight weeks. If you’re adopting your dog from a shelter, chances are they’ll already be chipped, but there’s no harm in double checking.

Vet bills can be incredibly costly, which is why you should consider pet insurance. Pet insurance can protect you from the cost of treating your dog should they suffer from an illness or get injured in an accident and need treatment from a vet – saving you from an unexpected and potentially sky-high vet bill.

Also, if puppies aren’t part of your future plans, you should consider getting your dog neutered. Neutering improves the overall behaviour and health of your dog, as well as saving money by preventing the unnecessary costs of unplanned pregnancies and raising puppies.

Love, love love

Bringing home your new dog is the most exciting thing in the world, however building a good relationship takes time and effort from day one. The most important thing is to give your dog endless love – and they will return the favour by showing you even more love.

Be prepared to lose your heart – your life (and your home!) will never be the same again once you have a furry friend which is no bad thing. Be prepared to learn what true unconditional love and affection really means!

Thanks to our Facebook community for sharing their top tips for first-time dog owners. Have you recently got a dog? Share you photos with us on Facebook and Twitter.