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5 Tips for Surviving the 1st Year as a Dog Parent

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This article may contain affiliate links which support this site at no cost to you.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Merial, the maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner) Chewables. As part of the sponsorship, I received compensation for my time.  The opinions and text are all mine.  

Considering getting your first dog? We were new pet owners a year ago and have learned a lot! Check out my tips for making the transition to dog ownership easy and fun!

Thinking about getting a dog? Check out these tips on how to survive that first year of being a new dog parent!

About 3 years ago my sister, who lives just a few miles from us, adopted a big white fluffy goldendoodle named Izzy.  Our entire family immediately fell in love with Izzy after she spent a few weeks with us one summer while my sister was traveling.  When Izzy went home, we missed having her around.  So my husband and I started thinking about getting a dog.  Neither one of us had ever owned a dog so we were total newbies.  The only thing we knew as that we knew absolutely nothing about owning a dog.  But in January 2015, we took the plunge and adopted a 1 year old labradoodle named Ginger.

Adopt a dog

I think adopting a dog is a little like becoming a parent. You have a little bit of an idea of what you are getting yourself in to, but you also have no clue what you are getting yourself in to!  Here are some tips for being a new dog parent:

1. Be Patient:  It took me a good 8 months to get used to Ginger.  The first few weeks were really hard. Ginger ruled the roost in her old home. She had been well trained by a dog trainer, but her owners never followed through.  I finally realized I was dealing with a toddler who needed boundaries. Once I had that mindset, we were on our way to an understanding.


2. Set Boundaries: If you don’t set boundaries for the dog, they will run you over.  There are a few things we let Ginger do that I wish we had trained her not to do.  It’s perfectly fine if you don’t want the dog on furniture. Just be consistent.  Ginger was used to go potty wherever she wanted and she preferred carpet.  It took a week or so but I got her in the routine of going outside and we rarely have issues now. Rarely – see #1 about being patient!

3. Find a Great Vet:  Ginger was up to date on her shots and came with a file full of vet records when we got her. We were lucky that we knew what we were dealing with. But when I took her for her first hair cut, the groomer found lice.  It was a total nightmare to get rid of.  We found an amazing vet who was so helpful and held our hands through the process and took great care of our girl.

NexGard for Dogs

4.  Add pet care to your budget:  We knew Ginger would cost money, but I’ve been surprised where and how we’ve spent the money.  I expected an occasional vet bill, but it turns out that dogs need regular maintenance.  Because we take Ginger to dog parks, we keep all of her vaccinations current.  After the lice last year, we are also hyper vigilant about bugs like ticks and fleas. NexGard®(afoxolaner) is a soft beef-flavored chew that kills fleas and ticks for 30 days.  You have to get a prescription for it from the vet, but it’s worth a trip for peace of mind.  I’m all about preventative visits to the vet because treating for bugs after the dog is infested is not fun.

5. Find other dog owners of your breed: There’s nothing to help you ease in to dog ownership when you truly understand your dog. Ginger is a professional counter surfer and she loves to dine on dirty socks.  But after talking to a few other doodle owners, I realized that this isn’t just Ginger – it’s her breed.  We’ve learned so much about dealing with Ginger and her quirks from talking to other owners and it’s nice to know your dog isn’t weird.

Dog ownership is one of the best decisions we have made. I still sometimes question my sanity in adopting a doodle, but I can’t imagine our lives without Ginger.

To find out about NexGard soft, beef-flavored chews for your dog visit You can also get a special offer on NexGard!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Merial. The opinions and text are all mine.


NexGard is for use in dogs only. The most frequently reported adverse reactions include vomiting, dry/flaky skin, diarrhea, lethargy, and anorexia. The safe use of NexGard in pregnant, breeding or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures. For more information, ask your veterinarian or see the full prescribing information.

®NexGard is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2015 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Merial, the maker of NexGard. As part of the sponsorship, I received compensation for my time. The opinions and text are all mine.

This article may contain affiliate links.

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