Thinking about getting a dog & not sure what’s involved? There’s more to it than just kisses & cuddles. For most of us, dogs are a part of the family. They might as well be our children (okay, “furkids” is a better word for it). And just like kids, they need a little love, care and affection every day. You won’t have to teach Fido the ABC’s, but you will have to teach him a few tricks – and potty-train him, too.
If you’re new to the dog scene, you may not know how to care for a dog. Here are six dog care tips to follow:
1. Feed and Water Your Pooch Every Day
Just like humans, dogs need to be fed and given access to fresh, clean water every day. Fill your pup with high quality dog food and be careful not to overfeed him.
Most dog owners prefer to feed their pups dry food, but there are many other dog food options available. Raw food and homemade diets are becoming more popular. Canned food or even dehydrated dog food are other options.
The key to selecting a dog food is to make sure it is nutritionally complete AND be sure to read the label. You want to be sure meat is on the top of the list. Experts seem to disagree whether dogs are natural omnivores or carnivores, however they do agree that meat should be the primary ingredient in most dog’s diet.
Not sure what food to give you pup? Your vet can give you some recommendations on which foods to feed your pooch, but be advised not all vets are experts in nutrition. The specialty pet shops normally also have well-trained staff in the matter of dog food.
2. Set Aside Time for Training
Puppies are adorable. No one is denying that. But they can also be a handful. The sooner you start teaching your new bundle of furry joy the rules of the house, the easier it will be to get through the early (sometimes frustrating) stages of life.
Here are a couple of things you want to focus on:
- House training. The sooner your dog learns how to do his “business” outside, the better.
- House rules. Set rules and boundaries right from the start. Don’t want Fido to go upstairs? Put a puppy gate at the bottom of the stairs. While you’re at it, start working on correcting your pup when he misbehaves. There are plenty of humane ways to do this.
- Feed schedule. Experts agree, dogs need a consistent feeding schedule. And that’s not just because dogs love routine. It’s also because it helps you maintain a consistent “out” schedule, too. If you feed your dog at the same time every day, he’ll probably need to go to the bathroom at the same time every day.
- Out schedule. Set a consistent “out” schedule, too. This way, Fido knows when it’s time to go to the bathroom. Don’t be too rigid here – you can’t always predict when nature will call. And remember, puppies need to go outside every 2 hours or so. Adult dogs can hold it for much longer, but don’t test that limit.
- Basic commands. Start working on basic commands, like “sit,” “stay,” “heel,” and “come”. Make sure that your pup knows his (or her) name, too.
Even after your pup has the basics down pat, you should still have regular training sessions. Many dog owners still set aside 10-20 minutes each day to focus on training.
3. Don’t Forget Play
Play – that’s the best part of owning a dog. It’s crucial to set aside time each day to play with your four-legged friend. Play helps you bond with your dog, and helps Fido release some much-needed energy.
Play ball in the yard. Toss the Frisbee around. Create an agility course outside. Play tug of war. Do something fun with your dog every day.
4. Keep Your Pup Well-Groomed
What would you look like if you didn’t shower or brush your hair for a month? Just like you, your pup needs to be groomed and bathed. He may not need to be washed every day, but make it a point to bathe him once a month.
Brushing is important, too. How often you need to brush will depend on your dog’s coat/breed. Dogs with short coats need very little grooming, while dogs with longer, thicker coats need to be brushed daily.
5. Love Should Be Served Daily
Your dog loves you unconditionally. Return the favor. Give him a big dose of love every single day. Dogs are very affectionate animals. We see it in the way they greet us at the door, the kisses they share and in their every day enthusiasm to be with us.
Cesear Millan offer one word of caution,
Remember anytime you give affection, you reinforce the behavior preceding it.
So just keep this in mind if your dog as done something naughty or is barking for attention. You don’t have to coddle your pup. But be sure to give him plenty of affection in the form of pets and belly rubs.
6. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Last – but certainly not least – make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise. Larger dogs need more exercise, so daily walks/runs are important. Smaller dogs still need exercise, but a simple 15-20 minute walk each day is more than enough for most breeds.
See our article on dog exercise ideas for some fun ways to keep your pup in good shape. Exercise is important for you, too. So bring Fido with you on your daily walks or hikes. He’ll love you for it.
These six simple tips will help you give your dog the best care possible. Don’t forget to bring Fido to the vet once a year for a checkup, too!
Want to see how it’s done? Here’s a fun video to watch with all the basics you’ll need to cover.
VIDEO: Daily Dog Routine & Care
Watch Delilah the Labrador as her owner goes through her daily routine. Here’s a breakdown of the responsibilities covered.
- Food & Bathroom Breaks
- Refilling the Water Bowl
- Freshening the Dog Bed
- Daily Walks
- Veterinary Care
- Playtime & Training
- And lots & lots of love!