Looking after your dog: advice and practical tips
Looking for the best tips on caring for your dog? One of the greatest learning curves for the first time pet owner is the energy involved in looking after their pet. It doesn’t take long to fall head over heels for this furry creature that now shares your home and your life. Discovering that there is some work involved sometimes comes as a surprise, not that different to first time parents.
This creature will be completely dependent on you for shelter, warmth, food and healthcare. Often the responsibilities only begin to dawn on the new owner after the fact. The joy and the shared affection more than makes up for that and people will continue to provide for their beloved companions through time immemorial. Here are a few tips to get you going:
Dogs are so loved that endless books have been penned about them in the form of novels, true stories and how-to manuals. Man’s best friend is certainly no exaggeration. While some may attempt to date the domestication of cats, dating it for dogs is a lot more difficult. Dogs have been companions for humans for longer than cats.
Dogs prefer to remain in the company of their human family day and night. This said dogs are naturally outdoor animals and there is no reason why they cannot spend most of their lives outdoors. If their relationship, exercise, health and diet needs are adequately met, dogs will thrive outside.
- A sturdy well constructed doghouse, built for purpose is possibly one of the best investments that a dog owner can provide. It needs have a floor that is raised off the ground, a bed that is kept relatively clean and the doghouse should be kept watertight and wind free.
- A flap door to the doghouse will mean that there is no risk of a constant draft.
It is important that a dog is vaccinated and wormed as soon as it becomes old enough to receive these treatments.
- Vaccinate your dog and remember the boosters. More puppies die of Parvo than any other disease because of health care failures both in terms of their mother and their own immediate care.
As in the case with most animals, the state of their health is directly related to their mental well being, their diet, exercise routine and the environment in which they live. Consider all these factors to keep the dog content and the vet bills down.
Learning and socialising
Dogs that develop healthy relationships with owners want to please them all the time. When a dog misbehaves it’s often because he doesn’t know how to express himself any other way. Not because he’s a bad dog.
- Basic training starts from the day you get your dog as a puppy. Even if you get an adult rescue dog, the relationship will be new, and this is an opportunity to define boundaries from the start. Invest in basic training and it will make for a happy lifelong relationship. Dogs need to understand the environment that they live in and to feel safe. One of the reasons that dogs don’t get on with other dogs is that they didn’t spend enough time developing social skills as a puppy.
- Dogs can be re-socialised so make the effort by gently reintroducing them to other dogs and in time, they will be fine in a canine and human social environment.
Dogs have exercise needs that when unmet will almost certainly result in behavioural problems. Anyone who has had to keep a dog in following spaying or neutering will know how quickly they get stir crazy.
- Exercise your dog according to their size, larger breeds require as much as hour when out walking, medium breeds fifteen to twenty minutes and smaller breeds ten minutes. Walk your dog twice a day and smaller breeds may need brief walks three or four times a day.
- Play with your dog frequently, not only is it mentally stimulating for the dog and will help to avoid destructive behaviours due to boredom, it will also build a closer bond between you and your pet.
Feeding your dog
It is not difficult to feed you’re a dog a healthy balanced meal. Even busy people do not have to worry about balanced diets for their dog. Taking advice from your vet and possibly the kennel club, you will be able to find a good balanced food for your dog, in your local supermarket or pet store.
- Feed your dog according to their preference. Dry dog foods are just as good as wet foods, but some dogs will refuse them. Always the read the ingredients on the label. Meat should be the first on the list followed by a grain product.
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when determining how much to feed your dog. While each dog is different, there will be a feeding range for their breed and size. Be careful not to overfeed your dog, reduce by 10% if your dog is gaining weight and increase by 10% if your dog is losing weight until they have a good weight balance.
Every pet and owner relationship is different. Domesticated animals are completely dependent on their owners for basic care. This dependency will often translate into a deep bond and a relationship will form. By feeding, grooming and sheltering your pet adequately the rewards of being a pet owner will become apparent quickly. The love and reciprocal friendship that results from this relationship will far outweigh any cost.