How To Take Care Of Your Dog
The loyal companions who will be with you through thick and thin, dogs have been man’s favorite pet for millenniums. Before we get into how you should take care of them, let’s start at making sure you get the right dog for you and your home.
How to Choose the Right Dog Breed
Sure, dogs are fun. But that’s if you pick out the right one to complement your lifestyle.
The first step is to ask yourself if you’re ready. This is not some tool you’ll purchase to store away n the shed. A dog is commitment. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
Can you afford to have a dog around?
There will be expenses from food, vet fees to issues such as canine insurance.
Is your home big enough for a dog?
Will you be ready to exercise your dog regularly?
If you have kids, don’t worry much about that-they usually give the dog all the exercise it needs, running around, playing and all
- Will you have time to groom and train the dog?
- Dogs are social and tend to get lonely at times, so will there be someone around for your new pet?
- And finally can you make a lifelong commitment to the dog? Depending on its breed, the average lifespan is close to 12 years.
If your answers are yes, you can go right on to picking out a breed.
Your lifestyle is a key factor. Say you live in a small, top-floor apartment-bringing home a Great Dane is not a smart idea. But if you live in a large house, are a runner and you want a partner for your morning jogs, go right for it. But don’t let dog sizes fool you. The bigger it is isn’t equal to the amount of exercise it needs. In fact, the smaller ones are the most hyper and active. The assertiveness, friendliness, and compatibility with your children should also be considered. After all, the dog is about to become your newest family member-you’ll want it to blend well into the environment.
Also consider how much training your dog will need. This will benefit you, your neighbors, neighborhood dogs, everyone in fact. Regardless of whether you send your dog to an obedience trainer, you’ll still have to do some work yourself.
Next, look into the qualities you want from your dog. Generally, dogs are either purebreds or mixed breeds. You’ll get plenty of both at almost all animal shelters. The ancestors and parents of purebreds come from the same breed. So they pretty much conform to a similar breed standard, so it’s easy to know what to expect. Mixed breed come with unique blends. However if you know the traits of their parents, you’ll have a general idea how the new breed will turn out to be.
There are many breed to choose from, from the toy group likes of Pomeranians poodles and Chihuahuas, the herders (like Terriers, collies and sheepdogs), the Working group Akitas and Rottweilers, to Sporting dogs like Labradors and Weimaraners.
Dog Food Guide
Life rule: If it can breathe, it’s got to feed. You’re dog isn’t exempt from this. But when you go to the ‘Dog Foods’ section in your local retail store, you’ll see a sea of products. Granted, there are a lot of dog food products out there and finding the right one can be taxing. So how will you find the make the right choice?
- Start off at the labels. You may be thinking “But all that’s there is ingredients and praises of how good the food is!” True but there’s a lot more information you can get from the label. You know the nutritional requirements of your dog. Use that and compare it to what the label says the product offers.
But some are difficult to read so you can check out credible websites for ratings and reviews. The poorly rated usually have less meat and more by products and agricultural waste. They also contain low quality ingredients. So you should go for the higher rated labels, which is a no-brainer.
- Who manufactures the dog food product? You should note that not all pet food companies make the products they sell. In today’s world, many go for third party sub-contractors. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, as the buyer, you should in the very least confirm that these subcontractors are credible. You should know the manufacturers identity before you make any purchase. That will help you in tracking its recall history and judging the product’s safety.
- When buying dog food products, it all comes down to the ingredients. Let’s face it-food can never be better than the ingredients used to make it. So, plain and simple, the product’s raw products must be of high quality. Some companies go buying ingredients from on the open market from commodity brokers going for the cheapest bidder. Excelling companies source their products only from local or international established food suppliers. So it’s a good idea to know the source of the ingredients of the product you’re about to buy.
- Take your dog’s special needs into consideration. For instance, you may need to by food without any genetically modified ingredients or bisphenol A can liners. If you don’t find a food that meets your special criteria, you can always call up the food company and ask.
- As you buy the dog food products, verify their quality control standards. After all, you don’t want to bring your dog Salmonella in its food.
If it’s not transparent leave it on the shelf. Some companies go a long way to conceal important details about their products and manufacturers. If the company doesn’t come out straight, candid, and transparently about what’s its offering you, it’s advised to avoid the product. They should also be responsive to enquiries you make though email or by phone. Failure to answer your questions raises questions.
Always remember, when buying your pet’s food go for a superior dog food brand that will give you a return of your money’s worth.
How to Train Your Dog
Dogs are fun and lovable, but they do have some behavior that you’ll find annoying, however innocent it may be. As such, they need to be trained in order for them to live harmoniously in your home.
So, how do you train your dog? There are lots opinions out there. However, it all comes down to:
- Reward the behavior you like
- Don’t reward the behavior you don’t like
And by reward it doesn’t necessarily mean treats. Simple pats or praises can do the trick.
Puppies are like toddlers-they get bored easily, and have a remarkably short attention span. As such, you should keep the training sessions short when dealing with pups. 15 minutes, a couple of times a day, is enough. In addition make sure the training is fun and keep enthusiastic in it. This goes for even when you’re calling it to do tricks.
Speaking of calling, give your dog a practical name. Keep it short-at one or two syllables- for you do to easily learn and remember it. Use the name often when playing, petting or training to get its attention. How will you know he’s learnt his name? Easy-when he starts to look at you every time you mention it.
Crate training is a good mode of training especially when the dog’s sleeping or you’re leaving it alone. By the way, dogs are instinctively den animals so this isn’t cruel. While you’re at it teach the dog that the crate is a den, not a cage. When you’re not putting him in it, leave the door open for him to come and go at will. You should also throw a toy in there.
Treats should not be bribery but a reward. There’s nothing wrong with using treats to train your dog. If it works, then why not? However every interaction with the pet should be a learning opportunity. So when you look at it, you probably shouldn’t use food very often-limit it to active training sessions. That way, your dog will continue hanging out with you because of the touches, pats, praise and walks. But note that the behavior should produce the treat not the other way around.
Take your dog for walks, teaching him to walk on a leash. This is particularly important if you don’t have an enclosed yard.
Remember: training is not about dominating your dog, but communicating with it. In addition, dogs, like people, have different temperaments. Different breeds learn at different rates. Some will do everything they can to please you, some will stubbornly challenge you every chance they get. Adjust your training technique to suit your unique dog’s needs. Most importantly, do not yell at a dog, because he’ll not understand. Also, never hit your dog-he’ll not understand why you hit him, and will just fear you.
Common Dog Health Problems
Your dog is a pro in begging you for treats, but it can’t tell you about its health. Unfortunately, your canine friend is susceptible to a wide range of health related issues. As such, you should know about some of the common ones, and how to spot them.
Chances are you’ll have to deal with fleas on your dog at least once or twice in its lifetime. The fleas are more than just a nuisance that makes dogs scratch and scratch. They pose potential health risks to the dog. Those wingless insets are naturally designed to navigate through pet hair with ease, and have mouthparts that can superbly puncture your dog’s skin and suck blood out of it.
Fleas can cause anything from anemia and dermatitis to spreading tapeworm infections. How do you find them? If you see one flea, chances are you already have a flea problem in your hands. If you find flea bites on yourself, there are probably a few dozen hopping around your home and on your pets. Using a flea comb on the dog is another way to detect them. As soon as you know you have a flea problem, treat it before it escalates into a major infestation using flea shampoo. Treat you dog and its environment.
This is a common ailment seen in middle-aged and older dogs. At high risk of getting it are those dogs that are inactive or overweight. Even the young ones can get it if the conditions are right, like due to abnormal bone and joint development hip dysplasia or as a result of infection. Arthritis causes changes in the affected joints that are painful for the affected pet. The most obvious signs of it are in its behavior, from slowing down, refusal to walk or play as usual, limping, or stiffness. The dog may even become irritable when approached or handled, especially if doing so increases their pain.
If you suspect that your dog has this, speak to a vet as soon as possible to ascertain it. Treating it is a tall order, with most medication options available being to reduce its effects and make the dog comfortable. As such, it’s crucial to prevent it, by keeping the dog at its ideal weight, and going for regular checkups to detect problems early.
This bacterial infection is transmitted by ticks. Most dogs infected with it don’t show symptoms until it has progressed far. Hence the need for regular checkups, especially if you’ve found ticks on your dog. Once detected, it should be treated as soon as possible to avoid further fatal complications
This one is caused by mites. Having some mites is normal, but trouble starts when the numbers escalate. Mange symptoms can be localized or spread throughout the body. They include alopecia, skin reddening, and scales can lesions may appear. Its treatable and follow-up care should be carried out to prevent it from recurring. It’s also recommended that dogs with generalized chronic mange shouldn’t be bred, as the condition is likely to be passed on to their offspring.
Roundworms, hookworms, heartworms, whipworms, tapeworms-there are a lot of worms that can attack your dog. They all have varying effects, some mild and others outrightly fatal. Common symptoms for worms include coughing, vomiting, low energy, pot belly, lack of appetite, loss of weight, dull coat and itchiness. If you suspect your dog has worms, have it dewormed and treated. In fact, even if you don’t suspect have your pet take prevention medication. You never know-you might have salvaged your pet from.
With all these and other common dog health problems retention continues to be better than a cure. Use disease and infection prevention medication and procedures all year round.
Always give your dog affection. Be sure to show him/her your love. Dogs will love you forever if you treat them correctly.
When you lose your beloved pet dog, you’ll need to know what to do next. Read our article on what to do when your dog dies and how to bury your dog.