6 tips for first-time dog owners


In honor of National Puppy Day, Pumpkin Pet Insurance is providing advice for avoiding common mistakes



Happy National Puppy Day! To help veterinary professionals help new dog owners prepare themselves for the challenges of puppyhood, Sarah Wooten, DVM, with Pumpkin Pet Insurance offers these tips veterinary professionals can share with these new pet parents to avoid common mistakes.

1. Create a house-training plan

It can be hard to leave the house when first welcoming a new puppy home because of accidents. Pet owners can help avoid this by establishing a place for their animals to use the bathroom and taking them out every couple of hours for the bathroom, including after they eat. Once the pet uses the bathroom, Wooten encourages owners to use positive reinforcement for good behavior.

2. Socialize puppies early

Socialization for puppies is crucial at an early age because it will create a healthy and well-behaved companion. Wooten explained that early socialization can also reduce puppies becoming aggressive, anxious, and scared.1 To socialize puppies, veterinary professionals can instruct pet owners to use different signs, sounds place, textures, people, and experiences.

In case this may seem overwhelming to pets, Wooten offers the rule of 7. Every day, pet parents can introduce their puppy to 7 new things while praising them with treats for exploring. Veterinary professionals should also warn puppy parents that if they want to socialize their dog at a dog park or other areas with other dogs, they should ensure their pet has its required vaccination.1

3. Be prepared for common puppy emergencies and look into pet insurance

Encouraging your puppy patients to make sure their pet gets microchipped in case they get lost and keep an emergency kit nearby at home or if traveling. It is also important for new pet parents to understand the importance of enrolling puppies in pet insurance. No one likes to think they will need the insurance, but it is better for pet parents to enroll than to be stuck with an unexpected bill.

4. Dog-proof your house

Veterinary professionals should also stress the importance of not overfeeding puppies. Wooten explained that although they might think a few scraps or extra treats won’t matter in the long run, they will add up and can cause health issues for the puppy.1 The best advice for your puppy's parents is to give them a well-balanced diet with high-quality ingredients and make sure they get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

5. Don’t overfeed and exercise your dog regularly

Dogs can get sick from accidentally eating something they should not be consuming. Dogs can be protected by looking at a home from their level. What can they get into? Keep cleaning products, chocolate, toxins (like rat poison), prescription and recreational drugs, and anything else a dog can get into out of reach or in closed cabinets they cannot access.

6. Regularly visit the vet

After the initial vaccination appointments for new puppies and they’ve been spayed or neutered, annual visits are needed. Let owners know that regular checkups are very important to their preventative care since the vet will check their vitals, weight, teeth, lungs, and heart, and run any tests they think might be necessary. If something is cause for a pet owner's concern, veterinarians can address it and suggest options for treatment.


6 Vet Tips for First-Time Dog Owners to Avoid Common Mistakes. News release. Pumpkin Pet Insurance. March 20, 2023. Accessed March 23, 2023.

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