Regretfully, there is no such thing as a simple walkthrough for having a dog. The best anyone can do is to offer you a little insight, a touch of foresight, and some experience—the rest will need to be played by ear. Every dog is special and a guide to caring for your dog can only show the way, butthe pet owner will need to be the one waling the path.
This should by no means discourage anyone in adopting a furry bundle of joy. With all of the responsibilities, expenses, and time spent placed on the scales, there are few experiences better than having a dog.
Why Do You Have a Dog?
This is a question not asked often enough. Today, many people think of getting a dog as an accessory or, even worse, as a toy. A dog is a living creature, and if you are not ready to treat him with the love, care, kindness, and respect, then you would be better buying some other gift for yourself.
However, if you are a dog lover who wants to have a canine compadre to cherish and play with, you should not be afraid. Once the time is right, you will know what to do instinctively. Just relax and take care of your dog like you would for a human loved one.
Knowing Your Dog from the Outside
To have a good chance of caring for your dog properly, you will need to know something about his attributes. Some of these aspects are obvious, like the dog’s size, or length of hair, but others might be less visible to the naked eye. Always ask the breeder what they know about the dog that you are adopting.
This will also include the medical history of its parents if available, as well as a report from the vet. Make sure that you take a copy of that report to give to your selected veterinarian back home.
First of all, you will need to know which breed or mix of breeds the dog is. Different types of dogs have different health issues and dietary requirements, as well as general behavior and you should be aware of that in advance. If this is impossible, try to distinguish some of the features of the dog just to get the idea of the group he belongs to.
The more mixed the dog it the fewer problems it will have, as selective breeding that we do is not the most natural process, but having a purebred dog will usually leave you with more information about its ancestry.
It would be best if you could know the dog’s exact birthday. For some, this will give an extra benefit of making a canine astral chart. For others, it should be used to determine a vaccination calendar, as well as when you need to expect teething and changes in dietary needs.
While the size of an adult dog might be obvious, what is important is to realize that size when they are a puppy. This way you will not only know how big of a dog bed or dog house you will need to find but will also inform you about the diet the dog needs to have as a puppy.
All dogs are very small when they are born so the amount of energy through food a future large dog will need to take in will be significantly greater than that of a smaller breed.
Always try to find out anything you can about your dog’s health. Ask with your breeder if the dog has any hereditary diseases, or was born with issues such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia. You may know some of these facts from the information you have on the breed. However, there is a lot that could affect even the individual dog. Furthermore, you will need to know if the dog was vaccinated, and when.
Knowing Your Dog from the Inside
Knowing the breed, size, and age will tell you what your dog is. You will need to spend some time with your new friend to find out who he really is. This is essential if you want to take care of your dog for a long time.
Also, many of these features will change as the dog grows up, accumulates experiences, and undergoes training. Just make sure that you are not asking the dog to do something that is against hiswill and to slightly adjust their training and exercise to how they behave. Knowing your dog on the inside will help you care for him and maximize your joy as a dog owner.
It is always good to know if your dog has a hot temperament or remains cool under pressure. In many cases, this will depend on the dog’s upbringing, but sometimes it could be a result of something else, including genetics. As is the case with people, try to address any fears and anxiety that the dog has as soon as possible, so that they can resolve their issues and start having a better life.
Most dogs like to play when they are puppies and this should be encouraged. Playfulness will make the dog more willing to undergo training and it will make him fun to be around. It is a good idea to train your dog to understand when it is a good time to play and when he should be calm. However, you should never punish your dog for wanting to play.
With a creature as honest and loyal as a dog, affection is always a two-way street. The amount of love, kindness, and nurturing you give to the dog will return to you ten-fold. While some dogs might be more introvert than others, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want affection and a cuddling session—just that they are too shy to ask.
Many dogs show signs of jealousy, especially towards other people interacting with their owner. While this is cute—and shouldn’t be directly sanctioned—you should always train your dog not to leap or bark if you are touching other humans without petting them at the same time.
It is to be expected that a dog will love his owner more than anyone else in the world, but you should teach it to accept other people as well.
What You Should Focus on?
There are four different aspects that you should focus on when caring for your dog. None of these will make your dog happy or content by themselves but in combination, they can transform your dog from a frightened little puppy to a strong and loving guard dog.
Health should always be your primary concern. If your pup isunhealthy, everything else is obsolete. There are many things that can help your dog become and stay fit and healthy, and you should use all of them. You should take care of everything from proper nutrition and a balanced diet, to regular exercise and relaxation. All of the things your doctor tells you to do when on a checkup are the things your dog should be doing as well.
Take note that different breeds have different requirements and you should know those requirements in advance. Trial and error is not your best option here.
The best way to prevent any organ problems with your dog is to feed it with good food. However, you will need to remember that good food is not the same for you and your dog. Dogs are carnivores and their system is made to process much more animal protein, and far fewer carbs and dietary fiber. Also, make sure you are giving your dog treats that are adequate for their health. The meat should not be salted, the veggies should contain dressing, and you should always avoid any sugary foods, including fruit.
That protein your dog eats will build up his muscles. Muscle health is vital for dogs as it will allow them to exercise and run around. The important thing to remember is that not all dogs have the same amount of muscle, and should thus have different types of exercise, as well as different diets.
The best way to keep your dog’s muscles healthy is to keep them in use—just like with you and I.Therefore, make sure that your dog is active and not spending the whole day sleeping.
Bone health is often disregarded, even though it is one of the most often problems that dogs have. To keep your dog’s bones healthy, you may need to add vitamin and mineral supplements to his diet. Supplements that contain calcium, or the Q10 coenzyme, are something that more and more dog owners are using to ensure their furry friends stay as healthy and active as possible into old age.
Canine nutrition is extremely important and, thankfully, there are a lot of sources online that discuss this issue at length. A good, balanced diet with a good feeding schedule is something that your dog will not only appreciate but will also benefit from. Dog ownership means knowing which food is just right for your dog and making sure that your household has a steady supply.
Types of Dog Food
Most dog food can be separated into three categories: dry dog food or kibble, wet dog food that is usually canned, and raw food that is unprocessed. All three of these types have their place in your dog’s daily meals. Kibble is best for storage to give your dog a regular diet, but wet dog food is much richer in protein.
Raw food is usually the best type, but it is perishable and can be very expensive.
Protein & Carbohydrates
Most dogs need to eat food that consists of animal protein. There is no getting around that fact. Carbs are sometimes present in food that is meant for older dogs, but good dog food should always have an animal protein as the primary ingredient.
Vitamins & Minerals
Thankfully, the number of supplements containing vitamins and minerals for dogs has grown a lot in the last few years. Additionally, the amount of premium dog food that now has these ingredients included, even in dry kibble, is bigger than ever.
Depending on your dog, you will probably need some dietary supplement to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, and what is a dog but God spelled backward!
In all seriousness, keeping your dog clean and well groomed will make sure that they are less susceptible to all kinds of viruses, bacteria, and other types of infection. Additionally, they will look better and feel better about themselves. Finally, the grooming process will give your dog some additional attention, and he will love you for it.
Haircuts & Nail Clipping
Most dogs shed fur at certain times of the year. Exceptions to this rule are poodles and Maltese terriers, as well as a few other breeds. Dogs that don’t shed need to have regular cuts so that their fur doesn’t become entangled. Also, dogs that live inside should have their nails clipped regularly so that they don’t chip when walking on the sidewalk.
Either with dental sticks that your dog will chew on or by taking it to the vet to have their teeth cleaned, don’t forget about your dog’s dental care. You can buy these products in almost any pet store and is especially important for small breeds that feed mostly on dry kibble.
Skin & Fur Care
A dog’s skin is much more delicate than human skin. This is why you can use your dog’s shampoo, but not the other way around. The basics of skin and fur care are done by nutrition, but you should also make sure that you are using good doggy shampoo, as well as some other skin products when needed.
4. Training & Playing
Your dog needs to exercise as it will help it release any access energy as well as keep their muscles and organs healthy. The best way to undergo training is to combine it with playing, as well as to practice positive reinforcement to cheer on your dog while it is doing its workout. Regular training will not only solve a host of health problems but will address any behavioral problems that the dog might have as well.
Basic obedience training should be done as soon as the puppy is able to go outside. This type of training consists of simple conditioning, making the dog understand the most common commands. Additionally, this training should teach the dog not to go to the bathroom when inside the house, as well as not to chew on anything except their own toys.
Dog owners that want to conduct this training by themselves don’t need special training, only the dog’s favorite toy and a bag of treats.
For advanced training, you will need the expertise of a professional dog trainer. Before you demand from your dog to learn more complex commands, however, make sure that your dog is willing and able to do something like that.
Becoming a Service Animal
Training for a service dog is lengthy, expensive, and should only be used if you yourself need such assistance from your dog. On the other hand, most dogs can easily pass for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) certificate, which can come in handy if you feel safer going with your dog on a plane or in big crowds.
Having a dog is a joy that everyone should experience. The amount of love and loyalty you will get from your furry friend is immeasurable, and it is only fair for you to give some of that love and care back to your dog. Just remember to remain calm and think about your dog’s needs in advance. If you cover all of your bases, you will be certain to enjoy hundreds and hundreds of cuddle sessions and thousands of belly rubs together with your best friend.
I grew up in a household that was filled with animals. I believe that my fate as a dog-loving person was sealed in early childhood since my parents owned several dogs of varying sizes and breeds. There was no choice but to take care of and learn about dog habits and the best animal care practices — otherwise, I’d be clueless about how to go about the creatures I was surrounded by day and night.
As a life-long puppy lover, I know a thing or two about dogs and how to go about caring for them in the best way possible. Although I’m not a professionally trained dog behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian, all of my knowledge and experience with canines comes from a place of love and a deep-rooted passion for dogs and animals in general.
Seeing as dogs kept me company throughout every stage of my life, I decided to follow a different path in my academic life and obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing Management and Digital Advertising, which ultimately allowed me to combine my professional training and personal experience by creating the ultimate dog lover’s resource website! Along with my husband, Dave, I run MySweetPuppy for like-minded dog lovers who want to have a single, clear, and reliable information source about anything and everything related to dogs and their well-being.