dog owner checklist | Pupford

Dog Checklist: 31 Things You Need to Know

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Let’s start out our dog checklist with a ground rule. All dog owners need to know this one simple thing…

You can never stop learning new things how to better care and spoil your pup!

We have scoured the doggy universe and come up with this checklist of 31 ESSENTIAL things that every dog owner should know.

Can you check off every single thing on this dog checklist? 😉


1. The Importance of Mental Exercise for Dogs

Just as important physical exercise is for your dog so is mental exercise! You can help exercise your dog’s mind by allowing social time, playing hide-and-go-seek games, or even teaching it reward-based training.

2. Dogs Don’t Understand English! (Shocker)

Communicating with your dog is very different than the way you communicate with your friends. Remember these three keys to communicating with your dog.

  1. Body language is key! Stand tall, be proud, and show them who is in charge.
  2. High pitched voices are calming and low pitched voices are more assertive.
  3. Don’t mix your words. Use the same words in describing actions every time.


3. Bad Behavior is Normal

Does your pup occasionally bark or bite? If so, DON’T worry! Bad behavior is natural. Sometimes your dog is just in a bad mood so they act up! (or they’re hangry, who doesn’t act up when they’re hangry?) Be patient and keep on loving them!

dog owner checklist for labradoodle | Pupford

4. Signs Your Dog is Not Getting Enough Exercise

“How do I know if my dog is getting enough exercise?”

We hear this more often than you think, so our dog experts helped come up with 3 signs that your dog needs more exercise.

  1. Excessive nighttime playing and hyperactivity
  2. Rough playing, biting, and jumping on people
  3. Excessive barking and whining to get attention.

5. Importance of Correcting Your Dog on the Spot

This is KEY! Dogs need to know when they are misbehaving that it is not acceptable. Try conditioning your dog for whenever you say “hey”, “no”, or snap your fingers that they know their actions are not acceptable.

6. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Your furry BFF needs exercise. No ifs, ands, or buts. There are so many amazing benefits that come with it like it assists in eliminating bad behaviors, keeps your dog limber, alleviates digestive problems, and helps keeps their weight under control!

dog owner with his dog | Pupford


7. Be a Leader

Your dog needs to know that you are the alpha in the house. Start showing that you are a leader by restricting access to certain furniture in the house, controlling their meals, and only giving them treats when they do something good (no free treats!)


8. Know What is in Your Dog’s Food

You give this to your dog every single day and you NEED to know what you are giving them.

9. Your Dog Needs a Social Life! (Social life does not include just posting pics of them on Instagram)

As much as your dog loves you, they need to have time with other dogs as well. Take them to a neighborhood dog park where they can be off their leash and socialize with other dogs. This will not only help them physically, but it will also help out their mental health.

10. Being Outside is CRUCIAL

Did you know that being outside actually helps your dog have healthier skin and a better coat? Sunlight helps your dog have a more efficient shedding cycle which leads to a fuller and stronger coat. The sunlight also helps your dogs utilize certain vitamins inside their body to the fullest.

dog playing outside | Pupford


11. What To Do If Your Dog is Choking

We hope that this never happens to any of our wonderful canines out there, but is always best to be prepared. When you realize your dog is choking

  1. Use both of your hand to pry open your dog’s mouth
  2. Put the lips of the dog over their teeth
  3. Look into their mouth and see if there is anything blocking their pipes.
  4. Try to get it out with your finger and if unsuccessful use a flat spoon handle.

If your dog is still choking check out what to do next HERE.

12. WATER! (I bet you didn’t think this would be on the dog checklist)

Talk about some high-quality H2O! Water is essential to living a long and healthy doggie life and we are here to make sure that your BFF is getting the right amount. Our dog experts suggest that for every pound your dog weighs you give them an ounce of fluid.

13. The Biggest Lie About Joint Supplements

This lie has been circulating in the dog community for years now and needs to come to a stop. “Dogs only need joint supplements when they are old and their joints hurt.” THIS IS FALSE!

Find out why and what your dog should be taking in our Ultimate Guide to Joint Supplements for Dogs blog post!

Joint Supplements for Dogs The Ultimate Guide | Pupford


14. Benefits of Dehydrated Dog Food

This is one of the biggest food crazes that is sweeping every dog house around your neighborhood. Dehydrated dog food not only tastes delicious but also give your dog HIGH-QUALITY proteins that are not in typical dog food. It also keeps vitamins, minerals, and enzymes fresh and ready for your puppers!

15. Why Groom Your Dog?

Grooming not only helps your dog look fabulous, but also assists you to detect signs of skin problems, helps your dog not shed as much, and promotes a long-lasting and healthy coat.

16. Dogs = Happiness!

Having a furry, slobbery, and sometimes stinky BFF as a dog actually has AMAZING benefits for you. Some include feeling less stressed and depressed, your risk for illness decreases, and you’ll just feel happier all around! 🙂

new dog owner with a happy dog | Pupford


17. There is a Perfect Breed For You

Just like how humans have their own personalities, so do dogs! Every breed of dog is unique and each carries with them their own special set of traits.

Lucky for you, we made a list the 50 most popular dogs and what their personalities are like so you can find the perfect match.

18. Be Patient! Dog Owners Most Important Quality

One thing that we tell every dog lover… DON’T GIVE UP! 🙂 Being patient while training your dog to not bit their leash, not destroy every piece of furniture around, or using your new carpet as their bathroom!

Remember that all dogs want one thing and that’s attention! So next time they do something bad don’t give them anything (good or bad attention) and eventually, they will stop on their own.

19. How to Bathe Your Stubborn Stinker

This can be one of the most stressful experiences as a dog owner or it can be the most rewarding (especially for your nose). We have broken it down into 5 simple steps to make sure you get a perfect wash every time.

  1. Brush your dog to get rid of matted hair (wet matted hair is a nightmare).
  2. Place your dog in an empty bath and talk to him in a calm reassuring voice. This gets him used to being in the bath and associates it with a calm feeling.
  3. Put cotton balls into your dog’s ear to avoid irritation or infection.
  4. After your dog is used to being in the bath slowly introduce lukewarm water onto his body.
  5. After you clean this furry canine give him a treat! He deserves it.
dog taking a bath | Pupford

20. How Often to Bathe Your Muddy Buddy

Now if you went weeks without showering we would be very concerned… But if your pup goes weeks without bathing that’s ok! Dog’s skin is very different than ours and if they are frequently washed it can actually cause irritation and discomfort.

Our dog experts suggest that whenever your dog walks into the room and you can smell them, then they need a bath! Otherwise, a bath once a month should be sufficient.

21. Pet Proof Your Home

If you are bringing home your first pup or have dogs roaming around your house already there is always something that you can do to pet-proof your home. Have you thought of using childproof latches on your cabinets, keeping your trash cans inside closets, or always keeping your toilet lid closed?

22. Love Your Vet

This is a pretty simple one. Over the years you see your vet many times (not too many we hope!) and they will do wonders for the health of your dog. Be appreciative and show them some love! Maybe with some chocolate?? 🙂

23. How to Walk Your Dog

If you’re having trouble with obedience on your walks listen up! Two tips and tricks that you can start today is 1) Practice inside! Sounds weird, but just put your leash on your pup and walk around your living space. Practice walking distraction free. 2) Develop your own specific verbal cue that your dog will know to stop, look at you, and then come to your side.

dog owner walking their dog | Pupford


24. Know Your Dog’s Body Language

Every dog is different in this regard, but there are still some very universal body language signs that can tell you how your dog is feeling. Pay close attention to the mouth and ears of your dog as they the easiest to tell what kind of emotions are surging through your pups.

25. Fish Oil for Dogs? YES!

Fish oil can do WONDERS for your furry little guy and his health. Some of the major benefits that come from taking a fish oil supplement are it protects the heart, aids struggling joints, improves mental health, and provides support for your dog’s skin!

26. How Kids Benefit From Having a Dog in the House

Not only does having a dog in the house help the owner, but it also helps any kids living there as well! Some of the benefits that kids can experience by having a pup (besides being the coolest kid in the cul-de-sac) are higher in self-esteem, more compassionate, feel supported, and overall happier! 🙂

27. Start ‘em Young!

Start early with the training of your pup! It is best practice to help them early in their life so they live a long life of obedience. Establish certain “cues” that you will use for the rest of their life at a young age and stick with them! This is one of the most important items on our dog checklist.

28. How to Keep Your Home Smelling Good with Dogs

We love dogs just as much as the next person, but sometimes the smell can be can get a little too much (raise your hand if you feel this way too). That’s why we suggest leaving out baking soda to eliminate the stank, buying an air purifier to be purring in the corner of your room, and thoroughly wash all your dog toys once a week!

Doing all of these things will make your home smell like a home again rather than a dog house!

29. Dogs Get Jealous Too!

Studies indicate your slobbery pal does, in fact, get jealous when you are showing love and affection to other things or people! So make sure you recognize when your dog is feeling a little envious and show them some love!

dogs being trained by a dog owner | Pupford


30. Curb Separation Anxiety

There is nothing more heartbreaking when you leave for the day and those big ol puppy eyes are gazing at you as start your day. It can be very hard on your pup when you are gone for the day and one way to curb that separation anxiety is to leave a piece of clothing that smells like you for them to sniff. It helps lessen the anxiety and comforts them with your familiar scent. If nothing improves consider vet help.

31. Dogs can recognize more than 150 words!

Wait what? We know super random fact, but isn’t that AWESOME! 🙂


Hopefully you learned some valuable lessons to add to your own personal dog checklist. Comment below with additional tips we should add to this list.

Written by Austin Stephan

He’s frequently called, “the Ron Weasley of the Dog World” by Pupford’s wise toothless wiener dog named Carl. Hopefully he calls him that, because he’s loyal, funny, and sometimes brave and not just because he’s the only ginger in the office. Who’s to say. Oh, he also loves creating the best content online about everything dogs and how they can make even the most stubborn mother-in-laws into sweet angels. Now that’s real magic.

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