A guide for new pet owners

August 18, 2022

A beagle on the Cape Peninsula Wooden Walkway wearing a Valgray for Dogs Bone Grey and Yellow Gold collar and leash set.

Clicking on our complete guide for new dog owners (or, as we like to say, pet parents) has made our whole body wag with excitement, not just our tails! Why? Because it means you've probably searched "animal shelters near me" or spotted an adorable litter of puppies, and you want to give a dog a home. We love it!

Welcoming a dog into your life is an amazing and rewarding step, and building a relationship with your dog will be an exciting journey full of firsts, laughter and love! But, adopting a dog at any age can also be a little scary when you've never owned a dog before. Keep reading our 1st-time pet owner's guide to having a dog or puppy to prepare you for this new exciting journey and lifestyle commitment on becoming a pet parent. 

A guide for new pet owners

Before adopting a puppy or dog

Lulu, Neels van Jaarsveld's dachshund, wearing a Valgray for Dogs blue and rose gold dog collar while licking Neels' face.


As a self-professed dog lover looking to adopt a dog or puppy, it's natural to want to ensure you provide the very best care and life for the dog (or doggos) you bring home. But, where do you start, right?! As proud pet parents, we recommend you start with the dog ownership guide below.


Top things first-time dog owners should consider before adopting a dog 

1. The cost of a dog or puppy 

a) Financial 

Sterilisation - You'll need to pay for spaying (female) or neutering (male dogs). Some dog homes and shelters include sterilisation during adoption.
Basic dog care costs - These are basic supplies needed for pet dogs:

  • Separate, clean food and water bowls 
  • Quality dog food(as prescribed by a vet)
  • Dog bed with bedding 
  • Toys and play accessories 
  • Dog collars with identification tags
  • Dog leashes 
  • Routine vet visits
  • Inoculations/Vaccination 
  • Deworming medication
  • Basic grooming supplies or professional grooming services (depending on your new dog's needs)

Other dog costs - There are a number of additional expenses new dog owners should consider, such as:

  • Microchip identification for dogs (optional)
  • Pet insurance (optional)
  • Dog training classes and supplies (recommended)
  • A dog crate or carrier for travel (optional)
  • Specialised professional training (if required)

b) Time 

Feeding - You'll need to set a feeding schedule and stick to it to ensure your newly adopted dog feels secure and won't worry about if their next meal will arrive or not.
Cleaning - Dogs must have clean eating and drinking bowls, so you'll need to wash your dog's dishes daily.
Medical care - You will need to take your dog for regular vet checkups, deworm them, and give them medication.
Bonding - This is a super important one! Dog owners must set aside time daily for bonding. Dog specialists advise at least 1 hour per day of direct attention between you and your pet dog. But we won't blame you for spending way more time with your pup!
Important physical activity and mental stimulation for dogs:

  • Play for a minimum of 15 minutes twice a day
  • Daily walks for at least 30 minutes
  • Dog training (depending on classes and your dog's needs)
  • Dog socialisation or playdates (ensure that your dog knows how to behave around other dogs and people before attempting to socialise with them)

Grooming - Set time aside to groom your dog and/or drop them off and pick them up at your prefered dog parlour. 

  • You need to brush your dog at least once a week (it can take around 20 minutes for dogs with long fur) 
  • Bathe your dog at least once a month, depending on their skin and fur requirements. Some dogs with skin allergies may need more frequent baths with hypoallergenic or medicated shampoos.

2. What size dog and breed is best?


A Great Dane wearing a Valgray for Dogs grey and gold collar with personalised tags in front of an avenue of trees

Size and breed matter when it comes to dogs! Before jumping right to the exciting parts of dog adoption, you must consider your environment and what dog it can realistically accommodate.

It would be really unfair to expect a large dog breed with tons of energy like a German Pointer, Collie or even a medium breed with a seemingly endless battery, like a Dalmation or Boxer, to live comfortably with no way to release all their pent-up excitement and energy.

Dogs need space and freedom to stretch their legs and play! Even extra teeny tiny dogs like Yorkies, Daxies and Chihuahuas need room to be fabulous and have fun.3 questions to help you decide what size and breed dog is best for you:

  1. Will you have enough room if your dog grows much larger than expected?
  2. Do you have another dog or pet? If yes, what size are they?
  3. What size dog can you transport safely and comfortably? Consider emergency vet visits and regular checkups.
  4. If you are a tenet, does your landlord allow pets?

3. What dog personality would suit your lifestyle?


A lab and Australian Shepherd puppy in Valgray for Dogs South African luxury dog collars cuddling their owner on a couch

Are you a cool cucumber or an energetic adventurer? First-time dog owners don't often consider this! It's important to think about which dog personality traits would actually fit your schedule and lifestyle before heading to a local dog shelter or dog home.

We know how tempting it is to want to scoop up every cutie that catches your eye, but you must think about the relationship you want to have with your new best friend.

5 questions to help you determine which dog personality would best suit your lifestyle: 

  1. What kind of relationship do you expect to have with your dog? A running buddy or a cuddle companion?
  2. Would your lifestyle suit a puppy, younger or older dog?
  3. Need a dog who is easy-going with kids and other pets?
  4. Do you travel often? Will your dog go with you?
  5. Want a dog who follows you everywhere or an independent soul? 

Important questions everyone should ask before adopting a dog

A Boston Terrier dog wearing a Valgray for Dogs pink and rose gold dog collar lying on its back while playing with its owner on a couch.
  1. Will your social, family or work obligations impact your ability to care for a dog?
  2. Do you have other pets? If yes, how will they react to a new dog?
  3. Who is responsible for the dog's care, including feeding, daily walking, taking them to the vet, regular deworming and grooming, etc.

A complete shopping checklist for new dog owners


An Australian Shepherd wearing a pink and rose gold Valgray for Dogs collar and leash set with their owner in the streets of Cape Town.


It may be a good idea to wait until you meet your new dog before you start shopping for must-have doggy accessories and general care items, like food and water bowls or a collar and leash. Why? Because sizes will vary depending on the age and size of your new dog.

Here's a checklist of dog care supplies you will need: 

Essential dog care items

Food bowls - Yes, bowls! Get more than 1 bowl per dog
Water bowls - Get multiple water bowls suitable for outside and inside use for your home
Food
 - Ask for vet recommendations
Dog collar - A collar with personalised name tags shows ownership of a dog. A dog's tags should also have your contact information on them

Valgray for Dogs tip 1: Did you know we offer FREE personalised name tags and engraving with every Valgray for Dogs luxury dog collar purchase? View our dog collars to learn more about our complimentary name tag engraving. 

Dog leashes - get dog leads to ensure your dog can't get away during vet visits, walks, and training.
Dog bed and bedding - Dogs need a dedicated sleeping area and bedding
Dog toys - Toys keep your dog active and mentally stimulated
Treats and chews - How can you not buy them ALL the treats, right?! Not sure what to get your dog? Ask your vet.

Necessary dog grooming supplies

Dog shampoo and conditioner - Specially formulated dog shampoos and conditioners maintain skin PH balance and guarantee a clean, healthy coat without irritating the skin. Hypoallergenic and medicated dog shampoos help soothe itchy, dry skin and control skin inflammation and flareups which dogs with more serve skin allergies will require. Consult your vet for the best dog shampoo products for your doggos needs, as all dogs are different  

Valgray for Dogs tip 2: It's best to avoid cheap dog shampoos (and human shampoos) as many of them contain harmful ingredients and skin irritants.

Dog nail clippers - Your dog will need regular manicures! Dog nail clippers cut long nails without harming the sensitive nerve endings and blood vessel supply in your dog's nails. 

Valgray for Dogs tip 3: Worried you'll clip your dog's nails too short? Ask a professional groomer or vet to clip your dog's nails.

Canine toothbrush and toothpaste - Dog toothbrushes and toothpaste help clean teeth without harming gums or introducing dogs to harmful substances like fluoride (found in human toothpaste).

Valgray for Dogs tip 4: Learn more about doggy dental health on our blog Dog health 101: Dental health for your doggo.

Brush or comb - All dogs need brushing or combing to remove loose fur and improve their coat.   

Vital dog hygiene supplies

Poop supplies - Pooper scoopers and biodegradable poop bags are a must to keep your home doggy doodie-free (and fly-free!).

Valgray for Dogs tip 5:Always pick up your dog's poop when walking in public areas. It's something all dog owners should make a habit of!

We hope our guide for new pet owners was insightful and helpful for all you new dog owners! Next is our guide to dog adoption.

Please note this blog is for information purposes only. Valgray for Dogs encourages dog owners to consult a veterinarian before making decisions about dog feeding, medical care, oral health care or behavioural conditions.

Click here to learn more about Valgray and our story.

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MORE TO EXPLORE

The Valgray Collar Sizing Guide
Valgray luxury dog accessory product sizing guide & sizing chart for all size dog collar blog banner. Image from The Valgray Collar Sizing Guide page.

 

Collars for all dog sizes!

Valgray is one of the few brands that cater for the truly tiny pooch with our X-Small collars. We also go the extra mile to ensure we cater for the giant breeds with measurements reaching up to 75cm.

Never try to guess your dog's neck size! Avoid disappointment by first making sure you measure your pup’s neck for the most accurate sizing.

Then, refer to our sizing chart below to find the most appropriate collar size for your doggie. Remember to select a collar size that will fit comfortably and allow for movement.

I don't know how to measure my dog's neck?

Don’t have a tape measure lying around? No problem! To learn how to measure your dog's neck safely with various household items, click here.

Valgray luxury dog accessory product sizing guide & sizing chart for extra large, large, medium, small and extra small dog collars. Image from The Valgray Collar Sizing Guide page.

Personal customisation

We try our best to cater to every breed, but some doggos might need a little extra at-home customisation to achieve the perfect fit. Our PVC-coated nylon straps are soft, making adjustments at home very easy. Use a standard leather punching tool to add additional holes, or use a utility knife to trim the length of your collar.

Interested in learning about the paws and humans behind Valgray? Learn about our journey and how we give back on Valgray, This Is How Our Story Started!