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How to Adapt to Owning Dogs

Updated on January 2, 2013

© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.

Lucky and I posing for the camera
Lucky and I posing for the camera

Things to Consider First

So, you're thinking about adding a dog to your family, but you're not sure where to start. Do you want that puppy you saw at the pet store, the one with the cute, pink bow in her hair? Or, do you want to go back to the animal shelter and save that sweet, 3 year-old German Shepherd before he has to be put to sleep?

However, before you make a final decision, there are some things you need to consider first:

  • Owning a dog costs money. Aside from the fact they need to eat, there are many other expenses, including grooming costs, veterinary care, flea treatments, dog treats, toys, and dog licensing.
  • Dogs are like children. They have to be potty-trained. They make messes and tear things up. They love to chew on things.
  • Time, time, and more time. Dogs require a great deal of attention. They need regular exercise, whether it be playing catch, tug-of-war, or going for walks.
  • What type of dog will fit best with your family. If you have small children, you might want to consider getting a larger, more durable dog. I do not think small dogs, such as Chihuahuas, adapt well to little kids.

I believe that if you want ultimate success in dog ownership, then you need to start from scratch with a brand new puppy. The reason this fact brings success is because your puppy will never have a chance to adjust to any other family except yours. I have been housing rescue dogs and strays most of my life, and as cute and adorable as some of these canines are, sometimes their previous living environments and training (or lack of) can bring bad habits that are difficult to break. However, I have seen rescue dogs turn out to be great pets, too.

Pookie, my Yorkshire Terrier
Pookie, my Yorkshire Terrier

Getting to Know Your Dog

When you first bring your dog home, it might take some time to get to know your dog. Every dog is different when it comes to their mannerisms. Like humans, dogs need time to adapt to their environment and the people (and other animals) around them, especially right after they have been separated from their mother or a previous owner.

Dogs have various ways of communicating with you. My dog, Lucky, has never been one to go to the door to let me know he needs to go outside. He will stand as close to me as he can, with imploring eyes, to let me know he needs to "hike a leg". Only time will reveal how your dog is going to respond to you. Until then, be consistent with feeding times and let your dog out often to prevent accidents in the house.

Dogs love to play, and you may find your dog will prefer a ball over playing tug-of-war. Some dogs love to wrestle and play rough. Your dog will let you know what he prefers quickly.

Playtime is Good Exercise for Dogs

Helpful Tools

KONG Ball Dog Toy, Medium/Large, Red
KONG Ball Dog Toy, Medium/Large, Red

Heavy duty ball for your dog to chase.

KONG Extreme Large
KONG Extreme Large

Fill the hole with peanut butter to keep your puppy busy for awhile.

Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer, Standard
Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer, Standard

Protective guard keeps you from cutting the nails too short.


Tips to Remember

Here are a few suggestions to help you and your dog transition well.

  • Touch your puppy frequently! Learn how to groom him, trim his nails, and bathe him. Take him for short, frequent walks on his leash. The sooner you adjust your puppy to certain behaviors, the easier it is to complete these tasks when he grows larger and becomes stronger. For example, I always touched my dogs' paws and massaged the inside of the paw pads gently with my finger. Because of this, they do not resist me when I trim their nails, which I do every week.
  • Obedience training is a must! You want your dog to behave and follow basic commands such as "Come" or "Sit" or "Shake." Not all people aspire to be dog people. Dogs speak a language all their own, and just as you have to learn Spanish to communicate in Mexico, you also need to learn the language of a dog. Not all aspects about dogs are the same. You are never going to get the perfect dog that learned every trick in the book in two seconds. But, you will have a dog who loves you unconditionally and will stay by your side. Obedience training will determine whether your dog can stay with you off a leash while out for a walk or if you will have to chase him in your car until he finally wears himself out! I have a dog who is 6 years old, and I have had him since he was 6 weeks old. I have never been able to train him to speak. He only barks when someone knocks on the door or I tell him we are going for a ride. He never learned to go to the door when he has to go outside. Instead, he sits right in front of me and stares me down until I figure out what he wants. I have, however, taught him to shake, beg, lay down, roll over, and he also knows the word "out."
  • Puppies need to chew! Puppies are no different than human babies, they teethe and their baby teethe fall out. Dogs need their own toys to play with and chew on. This is handy when you catch your dog chewing on your favorite shoe because you can tell your puppy "no" and distract him with his own toys, which he already knows he can chew on. My dog chewed everything up, so he had to be crate trained. He did not finally stop chewing things until he was 2 1/2 years old. Rawhides are an excellent choice for teething puppies.
  • My dog is doing what? I know this tip is a little bit off the hook, but dogs hump. Dogs do not decipher the difference between girl and boy. When a dog attaches himself to another dog, he loves that other dog. And if you learn more about dogs, you will find out that dogs do many other things to each other like keep each others' ears and faces clean. And dogs like to hump. Especially males dogs! If they are not fixed, it is worse. As Bob Barker said, "Get your pet spade or neutered..."


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    • Deerwhisperer profile image

      Brenda Krupnow 6 years ago from Bradenton, Florida

      Hey fellow UOPer and dog lover (animal lover), I loved your hub aand video. I voted up, interesting, and shared.

      You might also like to check out my hub "My Heavenly Family" for a good reason to get your dogs vaccinated.

    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 6 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Good advice here for anyone considering dog ownership. I found the "How to Communicate" video very interesting. I think different breeds probably have different calming signals.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Belle and I say, "Great Job!" This would really benefit some one considering dog owner ship.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Nice article. I agree about getting a puppy you can both grow together and bond. The relationship between you seems to be somewhat closer. I've had more rescue dogs than puppies so I am really having fun. I have a two year old Min Pin and believe me, he's a handful but adorable and lovable. Great hub!

    • writingfrosh profile image

      writingfrosh 6 years ago from Philippines

      WoW!I can totally relate to this hub, for we also have a puppy right now, and she is trying to chew everything, really and it sucks sometimes, and it truly helps to know how to distract her.

    • profile image

      girgismcs 6 years ago

      Great Article and iam waiting for more coz iam one of the dogs lover and i do train alot and i need to know more

      keep it on and good work ;)

    • Andrea333 profile image

      Andrea333 6 years ago

      I appreciate the time you spent to educate people on the joys (and realities) of dog ownership. I am not a bumper sticker gal but I saw a bumper sticker one time that said something to the effect of "puppies don't make good Christmas presents!" though it was much more clever than that. People must understand that bringing a dog into their family is a big commitment; one that is worthy of careful consideration. Thanks again, I really appreciate this hub.

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Great hub Jen Jen. My dog also stares me down until I follow him to see what he wants. Sometimes its to go out, but he does usually stand near the back door looking at it hopefully, other times he sees some food leftovers that he thinks he could tidy up.

    • writerspavilion profile image

      writerspavilion 6 years ago from India

      vow!!nice read.... i have also written an article on dog's emotions..please go through if you wish

    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      My dogs have brought me great times, and many funny ones, too. I would not trade my dogs for the world. Thanks for your support.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      JenJen0703: Thank you for such a clear, humorous, logical, touching, useful look at dogs and their people!

      Voted up, etc.,


    • profile image

      ThomasRydder 6 years ago

      Good morning, Jen...everything you say is point on. Dogs have a very distinct personality, and they are all hard work. Much more time-consuming than cats. I'm proud to say that we have 2 kitties and one young dog, and they are all rescues. My wife has taught me the value of caring for animals the proper way, and I've grown as a result. One thing is certain; don't commit to owning any animal until you are prepared to care for it too. :)TR

    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 6 years ago from Battle Creek, Michigan

      Thanks Docbruin. I will be writing a hub soon on how to train your dog the basic commands, but I do not have a puppy to take pictures of at the moment. Once I have that ready, check it out.

    • docbruin profile image

      docbruin 6 years ago from USA

      Great hub and information JenJen. My wife and I are getting a dog this week. We have had two before but the last had passed from us a couple of years ago. I will forward this hub to my wife. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      thank you for sharing this. My wife and I do not have children and we never nwill have children, but we have two dogs, one whom is quite elderly, and it really is like owning chilren. Some people shouldn't have kids, and some people shouldn't have dogs. Thanks for educating others about these wonderful creatures.

    • Hillbilly Zen profile image

      Hillbilly Zen 6 years ago from Kentucky

      Great Hub, Ms. JenJen. Very helpful, and I particularly liked your point "that society does not have bad dogs, but bad owners instead." Well said!

    • Frannie Dee profile image

      Frannie Dee 6 years ago from Chicago Northwest Suburb

      Great advice and so true that you need be able to pay for unexpected costs when you have a dog. So many times I hear of puppies swallowing toys or plastic pieces that require a visit to the vet. (mine) Up and useful.

    • Dale Nelson profile image

      Dale Nelson 6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi JenJen,

      Fantastic points you make.

      Our dogs are like extra children around the house. We have taken a few years to get this right, but we taught them to identify different voice tones with the words.Like "out the kitchen" in a low tone or "dinner time" in a higher tone. Helped us help them to understand better what we wanted from them.

      Great point about rescue dogs.

      Thanks for sharing. Dale.

    • leshey profile image

      leshey 6 years ago from England

      Great article and I like the point about the financial aspect of dog ownership. I think sometimes this isn't given enough consideration. In his first year, I spent more than three times what I'd paid for my dog in vets bills. He's worth it though. He's my little fur covered soulmate!

      Well done for the rescue work too. I have a huge amount of admiration for people that rescue dogs. My next dog will definitely be a rescue dog.