Dogs are incredibly rewarding to keep as pets and can bond very strongly with their owners. If you are a dog owner or are considering becoming one, it’s incredibly important to remember that having a dog is a real responsibility as they command a lot of time and attention. Equally, it can be hard to find a balance between looking after your canine friend and having a pampered pooch. Here are a few tips about the basics to help you find a balance.
Training is fundamental for dogs and can enhance their life and yours greatly. Start training them from a young age to answer to their name, toilet-train them and after their injections introduce them to other dogs so that they are sociable. (Ed. note: Puppies need to be socialized early. Their most impressionable time period is prior to 3 to 4 months of age. However, you need to be careful not to introduce them to disease as well. So, organized puppy play classes through a veterinarian or local kennel facility may be a better option than a dog park or other facility where the health of the dogs/puppies is not monitored.)
Dogs can be easily scared and respond better to training through reward than punishment, so make sure you reward your pooch with treats when they pick up on what they are being taught. Don’t forget treats can include playtime and affection as well as tidbits – you don’t want your pooch getting porky!
Space, where your dog or puppy sleeps, should not be cold or wet – aside from being uncomfortable for your canine friend, sleeping in an unwelcoming environment like this is likely to cause your pet to become ill.
Whether you have a Yorkshire Terrier or a Great Dane you should also make sure there is enough space for your dog to move around freely and keep anything potentially dangerous which they may try to play with – or chew, out of their reach. Dogs are inquisitive by nature, so as well as making sure they can’t get their paws on anything they could damage – or could damage them, make sure your garden is escape proof so they don’t wander off on their own adventure.
The amount and type of dog food you need to feed your dog will depend on a number of factors including their age, build and activity levels. As puppies, dogs tend to eat smaller more frequent meals (hence the need for puppy food), but as they reach adult size they should settle into a feeding routine of between one and three meals each day depending on the breed.
It’s sometimes hard to judge how much you need to feed dogs who will often gulp down anything put in front of them. So if you notice your pet is gaining pounds, reduce their food intake slightly. Equally, if your pooch starts to lose weight or seems out of character at all it may be wise to seek veterinary advice in case they are ill.
Many dog owners take out pet insurance to protect cover their dogs in case of illness or accident. Finally, be aware of foods and substances which could potentially poison your dogs including chocolate, onions and some garden plants.
These bouncy balls of fur are intelligent animals which require lots of exercise and stimulation. Evidence from psychologists shows that time spent playing and exercising with pets has stress-reducing benefits, so playtime is a treat for you both.
Dogs should be walked at least once a day and given access to somewhere where they can go to the toilet every few hours. Larger dogs will require more exercise so be prepared to head outdoors in all weathers and invest in a suitable harness or collar and lead.
When it comes to engaging your canine there are a huge range of dog toys out there and you will largely learn through trial and error which your pet prefers – just remember to choose something suitable for their age and to buy plenty of toys if you have more than one dog – you don’t want any fighting!