Things to know before getting a dog: Nine important tips

Dog ownership and parenting are like two sides of the same coin. Both are life-changing, exhausting pastimes, requiring bucketloads of patience and good humour. But if the reward was unconditional love, you’d take that, wouldn’t you? The unique bond between a person and their dog is one of the most special comforts in the world. 


How can you nurture your furry friend to give them all the care that they deserve? Dog lovers know that, much like having a baby, buying a dog will change everything - your daily routine, your internal alarm clock, your tolerance to a messy house. The best thing you can do is prepare to embrace this, and in particular recognise that big life moments like holidays will also be different. Luckily with thousands of beautiful dog-friendly cottages available across the UK, you can take your pick of vibrant cities and rural boltholes.


In return for the compromises that you may have to make, you’ll have a bundle of cuteness to add joy into your life, and instantly become a loved family member for the long term. And that’s totally worth it. Before you take the plunge, read our top tips to help you prepare for the life-changing happiness of getting a dog. 


1. Dog breed research


Unsurprisingly, every dog is different. You might want to make a decision on the dog breed based on your personal finances (do they eat a lot? Are they prone to illness?) or whether you have young children (will they keep calm when being grabbed by tiny hands?). 


If you don’t have time for multiple long walks every day then you’ll want to avoid energetic spaniels and choose a more low-maintenance greyhound or a chihuahua. If you hate vacuuming, then perhaps go for a breed that doesn’t shed. Have a real think about your lifestyle and do your research before diving in. The Kennel Club is a great research tool that will help you find out about different breeds as well as everything else related to dog ownership.

2. Where to get your dog

Unless you know someone personally who has a dog with puppies, you have two main choices when it comes to the practical act of getting the dog: visit a rescue centre or speak to a responsible breeder. 

Rescue centre dogs 

Adopting a dog is a wonderful way to give a pooch a loving home. Animal shelters or dog homes take pups of all ages, so you can still choose a dog that will be with you for many cherished years to come. While you may not have your pick of breeds, there are usually dogs of all shapes and sizes to adopt. 


The main consideration is their temperament; dog homes may house dogs who have had traumatic things happen to them with previous owners. While these are loving, wonderful pups, they may need a little extra care and attention. On the other hand, centres such as the Dog’s Trust have the most amazing training programs, so your dog will often come to you very well house trained, despite any emotional problems they may have.

Dogs from a breeder

When choosing dogs from a breeder, you will be able to take home a puppy from about 8 to 10 weeks of age, which will grow up in your family (read on for puppy tips!). You’ll also be able to investigate the breeds that fit into your lifestyle and choose something that suits you. The downside with bred dogs is that they often come at a hefty premium, and also over-bred dogs can be more prone to health problems. There is also a growing trade in illegal puppy ‘farms’, so if you do choose to find a breeder, it’s a good idea to do your research: 


- Ask for genuine paperwork and certificates, particularly regarding microchipping (which is a legal requirement).

- Ensure that the mother is there when you visit. If a breeder says that the mum is ‘at the vets’ or otherwise absent, it could mean that the dog was not bred there.

- Ask as many questions as you want. A reputable breeder should be willing to have multiple visits with you, and spend as much time on the phone as you need.

3. Puppy love


While snuggling with a brand new puppy is possibly one of the cutest things on this earth, bringing your pup home can be overwhelming for all parties. It’s essential to set a clear routine, with feeds, play and bedtimes at the same time everyday, as well as establishing clear boundaries from day one. 


If you don’t want them on the sofa, or if you want them to sleep in a certain room, this should be clear from the outset. While the first few months will be a full-time job, your consistency will pay off in the end. And when you’re tired, don’t forget the old saying, “a dog is for life, not just for christmas”.   

4. Pet-proofing your home

So you’ve decided you have the space, both indoors and outdoors, for a dog. The next step is to make sure your house is both puppy proof and suitable for when the little one grows into an adult dog. Ensure that food is safely hidden away, particularly anything (like chocolate) that might be toxic to dogs. 


If you have an expensive item of furniture, you might want to put a throw over it or keep it in a room that’s dog-free. Try to hide any trailing wires or cords, as well as any fragile ornaments. And set up a quiet sleeping area for the pup. Not only will this be quite clearly the dog’s safe space but a designated sleep spot will prevent it from coming into your bed. 


5. Consider dog training


All dogs require training but whether this is something that you can give the pooch yourself or you decide to book specific training classes, is a personal decision. With a puppy this is even more important as you’ll need to get them potty trained quickly, as well as socialising them with other humans and dogs. 


To prevent bad habits from forming early on, and to make your dog easier to take out and about with you, training should start as early as possible. It’s also a great way to keep energetic dogs stimulated. 

6. Pet-min

Have you dotted all the ‘i’s’ and crossed all the ‘t’s’ of dog ownership? A good vet is a priority - make sure that you have one lined up even before you bring your dog home. If you’re getting a puppy, they will need to be vaccinated. It’s worthwhile taking them early on for a check-up and making sure they get used to the vet from an early age. 

A tag is a legal requirement, and you’ll also want to buy a lead, bed, poo bags, a car restraint, bowls and blankets in advance of their arrival. Finally, a dog's health can be enormously expensive so you may wish to consider purchasing pet insurance.

7. Food and water


Not all dog food is equal. Dogs will have different nutritional needs at their various stages of life and different breeds also require a varying amount. It’s easy to choose the most widely advertised brand or one with a recognisable name, but do your research in advance. Look for words such as ‘complete’, or ‘balanced’, and if you have a puppy then that should also be clearly labelled. Your vet is a good person to offer advice.

8. Time and money

It goes without saying but owning a dog can be time-consuming and expensive. You need to be confident that this fits into your lifestyle before committing. Budget for the initial outlays (such as a bed and eads) as well as ongoing (which includes food, pet insurance and vet bills). 


Work out how many walks your dog will need per day. Ensure you can commit time to this or factor a dog walker into your budget. The Animal Welfare Act sets out the duties of care that you have as a dog owner, including the essential welfare needs that all dogs have :


- Environment

- Diet

- Behaviour

- Companionship

- Health


If you can meet these needs, your dog will be loved and happy for its whole life.


9. Dog-friendly holidays

There’s no doubt that your holidays will change forever. But the scarcity of dog-friendly holiday options is a thing of the past. At Dog Friendly Cottages, we have thousands of dog-friendly holiday properties throughout the UK. From tiny shepherd’s huts to enormous family homes. 


These span all budget ranges and many even include luxury extras like a swimming pool or a hot tub. Certainly, holidaying with your dog doesn’t mean compromising, with this much variety on offer. On the other hand, if you’re looking to travel abroad without your pooch, then there are plenty of very reputable pet sitter websites available

- Holidog

- Trusted House Sitters

- Barking Mad UK

- Rover


Without a doubt, owning a dog is a life-changing decision. When you bring that furry fluff ball into your house, the initial few months can be overwhelming. Caring for a living creature is a commitment that takes dedication and hard work; but the rewards are enormous. Be prepared for a lifetime of love and happy moments with your new friend!   

Top holiday properties: 



Hot tub
Log cabins
Enclosed gardens
Swimming pool

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