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How a First-Time Dog Owner Made the Pet-Friendliest Home for Her New Pup

updated May 24, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Elizabeth Ulrich

Are you interested in becoming a first-time pet parent? Make your way through our starter pack. This content was created in partnership with the Toyota Corolla Cross.

For their entire seven years together, Abby and Vic had always wanted a dog. “Most couples dream of having kids, but we dreamt of having a house full of golden retrievers,” she says. It never seemed like the right time to take the plunge. When the couple relocated from California to Dallas, away from family and friends, life suddenly felt a lot quieter.

And then they met Ollie.

“Ollie was such a quiet and shy puppy. We looked down, and he was staring up at us. At that moment we knew he was the one for us,” Abby said. “He immediately snuggled right into our arms.”

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Elizabeth Ulrich

Abby had a dog growing up, but Ollie is her first pet as an adult — and there have been plenty of surprises and lessons along the way. We asked her to share how she’s transformed their home into Ollie’s home. One thing’s for sure: There’s been way more stuff than she imagined and more trips to the pet store than she planned. Luckily, the first-ever Toyota Corolla Cross is a small and stylish SUV with room for it all, from crates to toys. Lots of toys.

You Can Plan Ahead — But Only So Much!

When you get a dog, there’s the stuff you know you’re going to need, like food and bowls and a leash. And then there’s the stuff that’s unique to your home and pet. Abby researched which essentials to buy before bringing Ollie home, but she made new discoveries to add to the shopping list along the way.

“We initially thought we’d need only one crate but soon realized we needed more for our sanity,” Abby says. Now they have one in the apartment, Abby’s office, and the car so they’re not constantly moving one back and forth. And once they saw how much their energetic puppy loved mental stimulation, they stocked up on puzzle toys like snuffle mats. “Puzzle toys provide a ton of mental enrichment, which is essential for dogs. And they tire them out way more than physical activity because they’re using their brains.”

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Elizabeth Ulrich

Embrace the Change in Your Home

Home decor used to be a huge source of happiness for Abby and Vic. But they’ve accepted that, while training Ollie, their handiwork is often blocked by puppy gates to prevent him from chewing on the rugs and furniture. “You definitely know a puppy lives here,” Abby says. “There are toys everywhere.”

And it’s been fun to watch Ollie make himself at home in their space. “There’s a spot in the living room that Ollie has loved ever since we brought him home, between the couch and the pink accent chair,” Abby says. “It’s his favorite spot to eat treats and play with toys. When he was a puppy and trying to bite the rug, we flipped one of our accent tables over to cover the edge of the rug. But because it was ‘his spot,’ he ended up just lying right on the upside-down table!”

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Elizabeth Ulrich

Give Your Dog Mental Enrichment

Abby’s advice for new pet owners? Give your dog mental stimulation! “I wish I’d known how important mental enrichment was from the beginning,” she says. “I also didn’t know that things I was discouraging, like digging or chewing on sticks, are actually good for his mental stimulation. Now we go on ‘sniffy walks,’ where I let him sniff anything and everything, and he comes home so tired because he’s using his brain.”

Credit: Photo: Christopher Broe; Stylist: Elizabeth Ulrich

Yes, You’ll Clean More Often — But It’ll Be Worth It

From running the robot vacuum multiple times a day to washing the throw blankets Ollie dribbled water on again, housework has definitely increased. But Abby and Vic wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love seeing how happy he is and knowing that we’re giving him the best life possible,” Abby says. “We love buying him all the toys and treats, plus just doing little things we know he loves, like giving him frozen green beans or letting him drink water from the faucet. The best part is watching him sleep so soundly, knowing he is safe.”

Ready to embark on your own four-legged adventure? Start with the Toyota Corolla Cross.