Today is #sassysofie’s second birthday– my how the time flies! As first time dog owners, we really jumped feet first into the world of pups not knowing a lick of sense what to do with her. All we knew is that we loved her, from the second we saw her. While we knew at first, that would be enough, there was so much more that came with that territory and to this day I am amazed at how much she has taught us about ourselves–individually and as a couple. I do have to admit, Sofie is unlike any other French Bulldog we’ve met to date, but I think there are some common threads when it comes to caring for any dog, especially your first.

1. Communication 

For us, this was the number one thing Sofie has taught us as a couple. The second we brought her home, I couldn’t believe how much #ChefAdrian and I were talking about schedules, her care and how we were going to adjust with a new creature living with us. If you live alone, join a Facebook group, check out local meet ups at parks or start looking for other ways to get you and your dog immersed in the community. In my opinion, communication is the most important part to ensuring the best care for your pup.

2. Consistency 

From training to treats, you must agree with yourself or your spouse on how you are going to care for your dog and stick to it– no matter what. Especially when dogs are younger, like kids, their minds are much more able to pick up on bad habits and if you don’t nip it in the bud immediately, troubles will follow further down the road.

3. Trust Your Gut 

We drove eight hours to Ohio to pick up Sofie and both there and back I read several books on how to care for your dog from puppy to full grown. But once we got her and started to see how we interacted with her, started to learn her personality, a lot of what I read didn’t apply to our situation and our way to raise her. If you ever feel obedience methods, food types or puppy play is not right for your dog, don’t do it! Do what’s best for you both.

4. Commitment 

You must commit 100% to your new family member. That may seem obvious, but there will be days when you just want to give up–no matter how much you love them–it will be challenging but fully committing, knowing it will get better over time, day by day, is vital to a healthy and loving relationship, especially in their early years.

5. Unconditional Love 

On the heels of the above, not matter how much they challenge you, love will always win. Dogs seem to be the only living things that love you more than themselves, and we must return that love to bond, build trust and loyalty. At the end of the day, we love Sofie and bringing her in to our lives was the best decision we made–together.

If you’re considering getting a puppy, go for it! Use these tips above to get you started and you’ll be in great shape to build a future with a new best friend!