For the first time dog owner, taking good care of a new pup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be that way. By learning about basic canine needs and following a few simple steps, a novice care giver can help ensure that their new companion stays healthy and
Clean, Warm Shelter
Whether a dog is housed outdoors or lives inside, it needs a place that's clean, warm, and quiet to rest. Ideally, any shelter should be away from drafts and off the ground or floor. A crate or shelter that's covered, dry, and warm and has clean bedding provides an ideal safe place for pups.
One of the most important things a care giver can do for their pooch is provide a healthy diet and a constant supply of fresh water. Make sure to choose a quality dog food that provides the right balance of:
- Fatty acids
- Vitamins and minerals
- Other essential nutrients
As with people, the number of meals per day depends on the age of the dog. Puppies need three to four feedings a day. Older dogs can be fed once or twice a day. To prevent obesity, follow a veterinarian's guidelines for how much to feed a dog based on age, breed, and activity level, and keep treats to a minimum.
Exercise and Socialization
Just like people, dogs need exercise to stay fit and to stimulate their minds. A pup that has a chance to burn off extra energy may be less likely to be destructive at home. Activities like walking, swimming, and playing games like fetch or Frisbee are excellent forms of exercise for a dog. The amount of exercise a dog needs depends on their age and breed. A general rule for most dogs is one to two hours of activity each day.
Good hygiene is important for the health and wellness of a dog. For all breeds, this includes keeping the nails trimmed and ears clean.
Most dogs will only require bathing a few times a year, but more active breeds may need a bath every month or two to remove dirt and debris. For long-coated animals, make sure to brush or trim out any matting before bathing.
Brushing Fur or Trimming Hair
Depending on the breed of dog and type of coat, regular brushing can help remove excess fur and keep the coat cleaner. Some breeds, like Poodles, have hair rather than fur and will require regular trimming.
One way to help ensure a dog has the best possible quality of life is to schedule regular visits to a veterinarian. A long-term relationship with a qualified medical professional is an important part of keeping a pup happy and healthy. Routine care for dogs should include:
- Annual health screening
- Preventative vaccinations
- Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention
- Spaying or neutering of animals not intended for breeding
Take Time to Bond
Dogs are social animals and need to have regular interaction with members of their "pack". It's important to take time to bond with a dog so that they feel loved and at home.
With proper care and attention, owners can build a meaningful bond with their dog that lasts for a lifetime.