Ensuring that your dog will lead a healthy and happy life is a process requiring consideration, discipline and effective organizing skills. It is not enough to “just” love your paw friend. To be a good owner, you need to think in perspective and make sure that you take care of both the physical and the mental health of your beloved friend.
If you are a new dog owner, or you may find it difficult to prioritize the tasks you need to fulfill on a daily basis for your dog, this article may be helpful to you.
Of course, we will list “feeding” as the first and most essential point you should take into account when it comes to raising and training a dog. Keeping your dog on a healthy diet will contribute to increasing his/her lifespan and general well-being. Feeding as an important part of the care of a dog can be divided into several aspects.
We would recommend that you opt for brands offering high quality food high in protein and avoid low quality food containing many additives/coloration. Also, you should pay attention to the general health condition of your paw friend as well as any illnesses or allergies he/she may deal with, when choosing the most suitable food for him/her.
Both overfeeding and underfeeding your dog will negatively affect his/her health. Do not give in to the temptation to constantly provide your canine with treats. Although food is considered the most important motivator for dogs to perform a certain behavior, you should always pay attention to the amount of treats your paw friend takes on a daily basis. Otherwise, he/she may become overweight.
Dogs need food that provide them with all the necessary nutrients to properly develop. For example, during the puppy phase canines need certain amounts of protein, fat, minerals / vitamin to grow up and develop, so you should not stick to diets that may obstruct your paw friend’s growth.
You should always take your dog’s physical features into account, as well as their age, when it comes to feeding. We would recommend that you consult a veterinarian about the food that is most suitable for your canine, based on his/her age and size. Also, there is food, lower in fat, recommended for spayed/neutered dogs.
Sticking to a schedule is important for all aspects of your dog’s life, including his/her feeding. It is recommended that you feed your beloved friend twice a day. Keeping a routine affects positively dog’s behavior as well, as our paw friends learn to remain calm and wait for the time of the day when they will engage in their favorite activities such as walking and playing or receiving their favorite treats.
You should always pay attention to the amount of water your paw friend drinks and fill his/her bowl with fresh water every day. Also, you should make sure that your dog always has free access to his/her food and water supplies, i.e. before you leave home, check if the water bowl is filled and appropriately.
In other words, you need to take your dog for regular walks for potty breaks. Also, you should supervise whether he/she urinate and defecate daily. Irregular urinating/defecating as well as strange consistency of the poop may be signs of an underlying health issue.
How often you should take your dog for a walk, depends on your dog’s age and activity level. Puppies need to go outside for a potty break every 2-3 hours, adult dogs may need to go outside every 8 hours or more. In general, you should walk your (adult) dog at least 2 times a day. However, we would recommend that you take him/her for a walk several times a day if possible. Spend enough time walking your canine, as he/she needs to:
1. Relieve him/herself;
2. Spend the excessive amount of energy;
Talking about energy and socialization, we will logically come to the next important points:
Based on your dog’s age, breed, health and needs, you will need to invest a certain amount of time exercising your dog. That way you will keep him/her fit and will prevent him/her from developing bad behaviors out of boredom. Exercising will stimulate your dog physically and mentally and will help you strengthen your bond. We have mentioned many times, that developing a strong bond with your paw friend and knowing them well are essential steps of the process of raising and training a dog.
Not only physical exercising, but also mental stimulating activities should be regularly practiced. You may want to take a look at the toys available on the market based on their purpose, i.e. puzzle toys, obedience toys, chase toys and chew toys. Certain breeds enjoy solving more challenging tasks, otherwise they may get easily bored.
Socialization at a young age is another activity that you should not skip. If you would like to train your dog as a service dog as some point, you should always keep in mind, that socialization is an essential part of his/her training. Pups (after getting all vaccinations) should spend time around other dogs and people to learn how to behave in different situations. That way you can teach them what they are allowed to do and what their boundaries are. Dogs are able to pick up on the social cues of well-behaved and trained dogs, so socialization with such dogs will have a positive effect on your fellow.
You should always closely monitor your dog’s health. If you notice any deviations from his/her regular behavior in regard to eating, sleeping, activity level, you should contact a veterinarian. Now you understand why knowing your dog’s personality and habits is so important.
Keeping your dog up-to-date with all vaccinations is another important aspect of taking care of his/her health. Moreover, airlines will require information about your dog’s vaccinations, so you should always keep this in mind if you consider traveling with your paw friend.
Oral medications, collars, ear drops, sprays, shampoos and creams are common tools used for prevention of internal and external parasites in your dog. You should always consult a veterinarian in regard to the best option for your dog.
This is a part of the process of raising a dog, that some owners tend to neglect. Regular brushing and trimming are activities that you should not neglect. It may sound a bit “fancy” to you, but some breeds do actually require regular brushing / grooming, i.e. the Poodle, the Afghan Hound, the Bichon Frisé, the Cocker Spaniel, the Portuguese Water Dog...etc. If you do not have the time needed to maintain your dog’s fur, you should better not get a high-maintenance dog breed, i.e. the Beagle, Doberman Pinscher, the Boxer, the Great Dane, the Vizsla, Italian Greyhound, the Weimaraner...etc.
Bathing is another aspect of “grooming”, that you will have to consider. How often you will have to give your paw friend a bath, depends on his/her breed and activity level. We would recommend that you use a shampoo with natural ingredients, specially designed for dogs. Always check the water’s temperature prior to bathing your canine and try to remain patient and calm in case he/she seems to resist getting a bath. If you experience any difficulties in regard to this matter, you may want to check our article: “How Often to Bathe Your Dog and How to Do It Properly?”
Proper dental care is something important for the general health of your dog. According to veterinarians the periodontal disease may affect also the heart, the kidney and the liver of your canine, so you should pay attention to it. If you find it difficult to brush your dog’s teeth, you may provide him/her with dental sticks instead to remove the plaque and bacteria that may have built up. Your dog’s breath is likely to improve as well.
It is important that your dog feels comfortable and secure while at home. You may want to set up a certain area in your home to be his/her safe zone where he/she can eat, sleep and play. Pay attention to the location so that it should be neither too crowded, nor too isolated, neither too hot, nor too cold. Also, it should be no air current.
Creating a safe environment is a process, much more complex than arranging the furniture and choose the right location for your dog’s private zone. A safe environment means to pay attention to the food your dog has access to and keep potentially dangerous food for your dog such as chocolate always locked. While outside for a walk, keep track of what your dog may try to eat, and do not let him/her put in his/her mouth everything he/she wants.
Also, you should monitor your dog’s behavior and body language to ensure that he/she acts normally and is not stressed, anxious or shows signs, that might be symptoms of an underlying health issue.
Supervise how your family members / friends interact with your dog. If you have set certain rules in regard to his/her raising/training, they need to comply with that.
During the process of raising and training you will be able to know your dog as an individual. You should always show respect towards your dog and his/her personality. Even if he/she deals with certain behavioral issues, you should be loving and patient to address them properly. Do not exhibit any behaviors that may cause stress in your canine, and just remember that every beginning is hard. Your patience and consistency invested into the process of knowing your dog and strengthening your bond, will pay off in the future. We can assure you!