10 Unexpected Things to Help You Survive Your First Month as a Dog Parent

Welcoming a new four-legged friend into your family is no small decision. I’ve been a single dog mom to an adorable two-and-a-half-year-old retired racing greyhound named Dobby for a little over a month, and I’m finally beginning to feel like we’ve both settled into this new phase of our lives. While this is undoubtedly far easier than bringing home a human infant, I’ve still lost plenty of sleep and doubted my dog parenting abilities multiple times. If you’re about to bring a new dog into your life, here are some must-haves to make this transition easier for you and your new best friend.

 

  1. Slip-on Sneakers. Whether you’re bringing home a puppy or an adult dog, house training is a big part of your first few weeks together. You’re going to be taking your new friend outside A LOT and at all hours. You might also be in a rush to get your doggo out the door. That’s why you’re going to want to invest in some slip-on sneakers. Nobody has time to lace up their sneakers when your furry friend is about to raise his leg. But you also don’t want to resort to flip-flops as that’s just asking for a twisted ankle. My checkerboard Vans slip-ons have been a lifesaver, whether I’m stumbling around in the dark at 3 a.m. or taking an afternoon stroll through the woods and roads surrounding my apartment complex.
  2. Dog First-Aid Kit. Greyhounds are a peculiar breed because they can bump around your apartment with the durability of a monster truck, yet seem to bleed from the slightest gust of wind. Their tissue-paper-thin skin made gathering a first-aid kit an important part of my dog prep. And I’m so glad I had it ready because I’ve bandaged my fair share of bloody paws in this past month. Regardless of your dog’s breed, a first-aid kit is a necessity. You never know when an accident might happen–or your dog runs a little too hard while playing fetch. The internet is bursting with resources, but I compiled my supplies based on a greyhound-specific guide and a more general first-aid guide.
  3. Leash with a Traffic Handle. As I’ve gained experience with a variety of dogs over the years, one thing I’ve learned is that retractable leashes are THE WORST. They offer you very minimal control over your dog, which can lead to some very bad situations. Although I am blessed to have adopted a dog who is already pretty amazing on a leash, I still am glad I went with this Mighty Paw six-foot nylon leash with a traffic handle. Your dog has plenty of freedom, but you also have the control you need to keep your pooch safe. And please, make sure you always have the handle of the leash around your wrist!
  4. Cans of Pureed Pumpkin. Change is hard regardless of how good it is. Most dogs’ issues with change tend to manifest as digestive issues. If you need something to help firm up your dog’s poop during his first week at home, a few spoonfuls of pureed pumpkin mixed in with his food will do the trick. Of course, if the soupy stools continue, you better head to the vet as that’s probably a sign of intestinal parasites or other serious condition.
  5. Rain Gear. Nothing brings out the grumpy grandma in me like seeing people out in the rain without the proper rain gear. Considering I live in a state where rain is a pretty common occurrence, I am particularly baffled by the dog owners out in a downpour without rainboots and a raincoat, or an umbrella at the very least. Your dog is going to need to go out in the rain sooner than later, so you better have a hooded raincoat of some sort and some good rain boots ready to go.
  6. Slow Feeders. Whether your dog has a hint of food aggression from its animal shelter days or it just loves to inhale its kibble ridiculously fast, I highly recommend investing in one of the many options to slow your dog’s consumption. I’ve had a lot of luck with a little bone-shaped suction cup that goes in the center of Dobby’s bowl. I’ve also found a lot of entertainment in having him work for his dinner thanks to a weighted Kong.
  7. Cleaning Supplies. Messes are a given when you welcome a dog into your home. Whether you’re cleaning up potty accidents or dealing with the typical shedding and dirt, you need to have the right tools. For pet stains, Nature’s Miracle is what most pet experts will proclaim, and I will gladly join in with the chorus. Not only does it do a  great job of getting rid of the stain, but it removes the smell too! A good vacuum cleaner and mop are also essential for dealing with muddy pawprints, fur, and the remains of disemboweled toys. My cleaning game has been immensely improved by acquiring this compact Black & Decker vacuum and this Rubbermaid mop that should only be referred to as “the mop of dreams” as coined by British YouTuber Louise Pentland.
  8. Coat Rack. Between needing to have a variety of jackets on hand as the springtime temperatures continue to fluctuate and the myriad of essential dog accouterments, I ended up purchasing a coat rack because using three different chairs throughout my house for the same purpose just wasn’t a lifestyle choice I wanted to maintain. I purchased one off Amazon for about $40 and it’s been a great addition to my entry. Everything I could possibly need is stored by the door without making my apartment look like a disaster zone.
  9. Costco Membership. Dogs can be expensive, especially when you adopt a 70 lb. toddler of a dog as I did. Fortunately, Costco’s selection of dog food, treats, and beds makes it far more affordable without having to sacrifice quality. Bonus points, you get a great workout lugging 40 lbs. bags of dog food!
  10. A Good Friend. While being a single parent to a dog is totally feasible, I’m not sure how I would have survived the first few days or car rides if I didn’t have someone to help me. Best of all, having a variety of people stop by during these early days is an easy way to socialize your dog and familiarize them with the people who’ll be frequenting your home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie Stough

Maggie Stough

Maggie is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and is currently trying to make the most out of post grad life (read: figuring out what she’s supposed to be doing on this planet). When she’s not having an existential crisis, you can find her working on a novel, having a cuppa, petting a dog, reading a YA novel, coloring, getting her cardio in at a concert, or quilting.
Maggie Stough
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