(DOGS/PET CARE) While there’s nothing quite as joyous as snuggling up with your dog, new pup parents might still find themselves a little overwhelmed at times. Between all the walking, feeding, vet visits, and training, it’s not always easy to organize your time with them, and they could need something that you aren’t even sure how to provide.

But our pets are treasured family members and most people want to do a good job of caring for them, and that’s generally all you need to make the whole pet-parenting thing work. With some patience, a few helpful tips, and a whole lot of love, you’ll bond with your pup and make a lifelong friend.

Snuggles and patience before all

Dogs won’t always understand or be able to perform what you need, but not for the lack of wanting to please. Things can get frustrating, but bear in mind that positive feedback, rewards, and snuggles work a lot better in shaping their behavior, as opposed to yelling.

Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your pup to do what you need them to do, while allowing them to trust and love you at the same time. When they do something you approve of, simply reward them with a small treat.

Consider furniture covers

If you plan on allowing your pet on furniture, you’re likely to have it covered in their fur very quickly. This isn’t a concern unless you have allergies, but it can make cleaning a little difficult. To help cope with excess fur, consider using furniture covers – that way, you only need to throw them in the washer, and then your furniture is as good as new.

Invest in rubber gloves and dryer sheets

Dryer sheets are another great way to get rid of pet hair. Given the same properties that allow them to reduce static in the dryer, dryer sheets are really effective at collecting fur from clothes and furniture.

You can also use rubber gloves by simply running them over the surface of furniture and upholstery, and then rinsing them off when done. But of course, you can also opt to use a lint roller, which is perfect for on-the-go use.

How to give them medicine

Putting a tablet in your dog’s food bowl and hoping for the best often results in them eating everything but their medicine. To avoid holding your dog down and trying to shove the pill in their mouth as they wriggle, try using a dollop of peanut butter. Fill up a single space in an ice box, submerge the pill inside, and then let it freeze. Once it’s solid, offer the cube as a treat and your pet should swallow it without an issue.

Balance their nutrition

What and how much you feed your dog varies greatly depending on their size, breed, and age. Luckily, your vet can help you figure out what your pup needs. Most quality commercial dog food is made to have all the necessary nutrients and vitamins for your dog’s health. Read more about the basics of healthy dog nutrition here, and consider feeding them both dry and wet food for optimal nutritional benefits.

Always have food available quickly

It’s recommended that dog food is purchased in bulk. Not only is this the most cost effective option, but you won’t have to keep making trips to the store or risk having your pup go hungry.

To make it even easier on yourself, you can find all your pet supplies online and have them delivered to you. After talking with your vet, estimate how much food you’ll need, then re-stock a up to a week before running low.

Refuse to give pets human food right from the start

Human food is full of spices, additives, and salt, and it’s usually not recommended for dogs. It also tends to have a much more potent taste than actual pet food, and if you keep giving your dog your leftovers, they could grow so accustomed to human food that they’ll refuse to eat their own. Put a household ban on feeding dogs table scraps from day one–otherwise, you’ll never enjoy a meal in peace again.

The magic of baking soda and vinegar

A solution of baking soda, vinegar, and water works like magic for cleaning up pet messes and scrubbing down surfaces. Not only is it inexpensive, but it’s also non-toxic and won’t pose a risk to your family or pets.

Dog-proof your home

Start housetraining your dog from an early age, and make sure you have plenty of dish rags or paper towels lying around to clean up messes, because accidents will happen.

Make sure your front door is always properly closed when you exit, especially if your dog has the tendency to follow you around everywhere. If you have a backyard, install a fence or gate that your pet can’t easily jump.

You will also want to put any edible, fragile, and ornamental items somewhere out of reach, along with all electrical cords and cables. Keep your trash can tightly closed, and shut bathroom doors if you don’t want your dog drinking water from the toilet bowl.

It will take some time, but as long as you’re patient and offer plenty of love and encouragement, your dog will learn all the house rules. They’ll be glad to keep you happy, and you’ll start bonding with your pet in no time.

— Zara Lewis, exclusive to Global Animal

Zara Lewis is a regular contributor at Highstylife.com magazine and a full-time animal lover. Originally from Chicago, she found her place in the sun in Perth, Australia. Passionate about creating a better world for the generations to come, she is a mum of two, raising them inseparably from their furry family members.