Caring for a dog can be a rewarding experience. After all, dogs are considered man’s best friend. A good dog can mean the world to a child, and the right dog can mean the world to a person with special needs.
The dog you choose can make the difference as to whether this is a good experience or not. Different breeds behave in different ways, so it’s important to find the right dog to fit your family. Any dog requires a similar amount of care, though some breeds will require more exercise, or more grooming.
Before you bring a dog into your family, you’ll have to decide if you are going to get a puppy, or an adult dog. A puppy will require more initial training, though it should not have any bad habits. Puppies will also need to be supervised more, because they will chew things.
Before you get a dog, make sure you have all the supplies you need. Most people will choose to crate train their dog, so purchase a suitable crate ahead of time. This will function as the dog’s den, and will become their own special home. Some people worry that putting their dog in a crate will make the dog feel punished. This is normally not the case. If dogs are properly trained, they will enjoy being in their crates.
A dog will also need a properly fitting collar and leash, and food and water bowls. The size of the bowls will depend on the size of the dog, but they ideally should be wide rather than tall and have a non-slip base so they don’t slide around the floor while the dog is eating.
Most dogs are flexible when it comes to food choices, so any commercially available dog food should be suitable. It will be up to you to choose whether you want to use canned wet food, or dry kibble. A raw food diet is also an option, and is often considered healthier. Like people, some dogs to suffer from food allergies. If you dog develops skin problems, or digestive problems, you may need to change its food.
The dog food packaging will usually have directions that will tell you how much to feed your dog. The instructions are usually based on weight. Your veterinarian can also help you decide how much to feed your dog. The actual amount fed will depend on your dog’s activity level and age. Ask your vet to teach you how to recognize a dog in good flesh condition, so you can monitor your own dog.
If your dog starts to get thin, increase its food a little, by either increasing the size of a meal, or adding an additional meal. If your dog gets to fat, react as you would for an overweight human by reducing the amount of calories consumed, and increasing exercise.
Your dog should have unlimited access to fresh, clean water. You can feed your dog as many times a day as you like. Puppies need to eat multiple meals. Adult dogs can get by on only one meal a day, but two or more meals helps the dog digest its food better. Treats can be fed, but should only be occasional supplements.
Any dog needs regular exercise. If you have a high-energy breed, like a Jack Russell Terrier, or a Border Collie, they will need more exercise than others. Even a great family dog like the Labrador will need regular, strenuous exercise so it doesn’t become overweight, or cause it to misbehave in the house. You can give your dog the opportunity to exercise by letting it out in a fenced yard. You can also take it for walks, or teach it to play games with you, such as fetch. Some dogs need to be motivated to exercise, so walks or games might be necessary to keep them active.
You can allow your dog to play with other peoples’ dogs, but use caution. Even though your dog might be great with you, it might not get along with another dog. If dogs fight, they can inflict serious damage on each other.
Your dog needs to be properly socialized so it will get along well with you, your family and your friends. This should start when it is a puppy and is just learning about its surroundings. Once it has had a full series of vaccinations, start taking it to a variety of places and allowing it to meet different people so it will be used to new experiences and now be scared later.
It is up to you what you vaccinate your dog for. Normally, there is a series of shots given to puppies, then followed up with boosters annually for the remainder of the dog’s life. Talk to your vet to decide which vaccinations are most appropriate for your area. Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors in the country may require more vaccinations than dogs that stay on sidewalks in the city.
Spaying or neutering your pet is a personal choice, but generally recommended. There are many unwanted puppies already, so allowing your dog to breed usually isn’t a wise choice unless it is from a exceptional bloodline and you are ready to be responsible for a number of puppies.
Some dog breeds have long hair that will mat if not properly cared for, and will need significant grooming. You can choose to either brush the long hair frequently, or have the dog clipped down to a shorter length. Short haired dogs will also benefit from brushing on occasion. The more you brush, the more under fur you will not have to vacuum off the carpet.
If you choose the right dog, and care for it properly, you will have a friend for years to come.