How to take care of your first dog – Tips on how to decide on the dog breed, how to look after your puppies health and all about feeding, training and grooming your dog
Best tips on how to take care of your first dog at home
Decide between a dog and cat
Want to keep companion animals and can’t decide between dogs and cats? If you are outgoing and social, you may just prefer to keep dogs who you can play with and be greeted enthusiastically by on your return home.
Cat owners, on the other hand, tend to be calmer and introverted, preferring to keep low maintenance companion animals. Also consider this: dogs usually need more space whereas cats can be happy in smaller spaces. They need to be walked and exercised regularly and need much more time from you than cats do.
Consider your decision to bring dogs home very carefully:
Dogs live up to 18 years, or even more in exceptional cases. Throughout this time, life with dogs is like living with and caring for two-year-olds.
The building you live in must allow pet dogs, particularly if you’re a tenant.
When you move house/city/country, your dogs move with you. There is no fate worse for dogs than being abandoned by their family. That is what you will be to the dogs, their family.
Dogs need to be walked at least four times a day, no matter what the weather or your energy levels.
Dogs need vaccinations, medical aid when they fall ill, and grooming. Good veterinary care is not cheap and packaged dog food could cost you a decent amount for a medium sized dog.
Dogs go through a teething stage, just like children, and could chew anything that catches their fancy, including your expensive Jimmy Choo shoes or your Gucci handbags.
Till dogs are potty trained, it is you who will have to clean up the mess.
Your house will have dogs’ hair all over.
You can no longer take off on a holiday on a whim, unless the place you go to, accepts dogs.
Think about these factors carefully.
If you still want dogs because you know you will be able to give them the time, attention and loving care they need, you can look forward to years of happiness and love. Dogs are a lot of responsibility but they are definitely worth it!
What breed of dog must you own ?
Decide what type of breeds to bring home. Keep in mind that larger dogs need more exercise, will eat more food and need more space to run around. Hairy dogs in a hot city need an air conditioned environment. They need more grooming than shorter haired dogs.
Some breeds are naturally more boisterous while others may not be very tolerant of small children. If you are an active person, choose active, agile dogs. If you live a sedentary lifestyle or suffer from health issues which limit your activity levels, do not get high energy, athletic dogs.
Learn which breeds have the traits you are looking for. In case you want to get a specific breed, ask your local veterinarian for help.
The best place to get dogs is the local dog shelter. They always have lots of puppies and dogs who need homes, all vaccinated and healthy. Adopting dogs who need a good home can be very rewarding – you are saving them (and yourself!) from a life of loneliness.
You will also see many Indian dogs looking for homes. Indian breed dogs have less medical problems owing to the natural selection process they’ve been through. And they come with the same options as breeds do – in all colours, sizes and lengths of fur!
Never buy animals from pet shops as pet shop owners often ill-treat these animals and your buying will encourage the shopkeepers to get more.
Look after your new pup with lots of love and care
Ensure the puppies you get home are at least eight weeks old. Till they reach this age, puppies need their mothers and siblings. Make sure you have bowls, a bed and some toys ready for the puppies.
Take them to the vet as soon as they join your family, and get them licences from the local municipality.
Protect your home from teething troubles: till your puppies stop teething. Keep all your precious stuff away so it cannot be chewed. Get them their own toys. There is no point in beating the puppies if they chew something they weren’t meant to – they don’t understand what they did wrong! Training is the answer to controlling your animals’ behavior.
Puppies have small bladders, so you will need to take them out at least twice during the night. Add one to your puppies’ age in months as that is the most time they can hold their bladders. So, a two-month-old puppy can wait three hours; three, for four hours; and so on…
How to look after your puppy the first day or night ?
Dogs are pack animals and the first few nights that your puppies cry in your home is because they are calling for their family to find them. It is up to you to make them feel safe and loved. To ensure you both suffer the least amount of trauma, here are a few tips to make your puppies’ first few nights easy:
Tire your puppies out by playing with them before their bedtime.
Just before you want them to sleep, take them to the area you have designated as their potty area. When they do their business, praise them and bring them back inside.
Provide them with a comfortable bed, preferably in your room. This is so it will be easier for you to get up at night when they cry. Additionally, your puppies will start to accept you as their pack leader sooner when there is constant contact between you and them. The bed could be a wicker basket with a cushion in it, unless you’re okay with sharing your bed with your pups.
Place a ticking clock wrapped in a T-shirt or yours in their bed for your scent and ‘heartbeat’ to soothe the puppies.
When your puppies start crying at night, they may need to go out. Immediately get up and carry your pups outside to their soiling area. Praise them when they finish.
All about feeding your dogs
Always keep a clean supply of drinking water accessible for your dogs. Feed your dogs according to their ages and requirements. Younger dogs need to be fed small quantities, more often.
Conveniently packaged dry and wet dog food is now available – you can use it exclusively, or to supplement home cooked food. And, yes, you can bring up an exclusively vegetarian dog… Ask the veterinarian for advice on what to feed your dogs and when. Be aware that you must follow the routine you set.
Setting a daily routine
Take your dogs on regular walks, at a maximum six hours apart and give them adequate exercise. Puppies need to be taken out at shorter intervals.
Puppies need to be fed at short intervals, and grown dogs up to twice a day. A vet will guide you about food quality and quantity requirements.
Spend as much time as you can with your dogs. Try not to leave them alone for too long. Remember your dogs do not understand that you will come back and they will wait for you anxiously till you return. Dogs love a routine, and will wait to do the same fun things with you every day.
How to train your dogs
Training your puppies not only forges a bond between the two of you, but can also save their lives one day in case they ever run unsupervised in to traffic or any other dangerous situations. Preferably, train them yourself rather than using a trainer.
Toilet training your puppies needs patience. Take your puppies out early in the morning, late in the night as well as after each meal, and praise them lavishly when they do their business. Reduce the chances for mistakes indoors by always watching your puppies. Take them out as soon as you see they want to go. Cover the floor of the pups’ living area with newspapers at night to make for easy cleaning.
You can teach your puppies basic commands when they are 12 weeks old. Training sessions should be regular, fun and last about 15 minutes, twice a day. Basic training in obedience includes teaching commands like hell, sit, stay, down, come, no, leave it and drop it.
Teach them each command one by one, praising them as they learn and reward them with puppy treats. Keep on repeating the commands and manually guide them to perform the command till they finally get it right. Remember to always praise and reward them.
Always praise your dogs when they do something right rather than showing anger and instilling pain when they do not. Punishing or hitting can become meaningless if done too often and can make your dogs afraid of you.
All about grooming your dogs
Regular grooming is a vital part of caring for your dogs.
The correct brush for your dogs will depend on their coat type. Buy it from a pet supplies store and brush your dogs every day if they are long haired, and less often if they have short hair.
Check your dogs all over for ticks and fleas. Remember, they are life threatening and can kill your dogs if not controlled. Remember to check inside their ears and paws, favourite spots for ticks.
Bathe your dogs when needed, with a shampoo formulated especially for dogs – not more than once a fortnight. Before you bathe your dogs, place cotton balls in their ears to ensure you don’t get water inside. Use hot or tepid water, depending on the climate. Use a dog shampoo and wash off all the soap properly. Towel dry your dogs and take them out into the sun to get completely dry, or else use a hair dryer very carefully. If they have long hair, brush their coats gently, but only after drying. You could brush their teeth too!
Take them to the vet or to a groomer to have their nails trimmed, ears cleaned and anal glands expressed. Ask them to teach you so you can do it yourself the next time. Be careful.
How to take care of your dogs’ health
Take your puppies to a veterinarian to be dewormed and vaccinated. This should be done according to a schedule which the vet will give you. Keep your dogs up-to-date with vaccinations that protect against rabies, parvovirus, distemper and other fatal diseases. Ask him/her for vitamins for your dogs.
Dogs live healthier lives if they have been spayed or neutered. Spaying female dogs eliminates the risk of ovarian cysts and uterine cancer, and reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutered male dogs are less likely to roam, fight with other dogs or become aggressive to people. Neutering also eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.
Routine veterinary visits can catch health problems like worms, dental decay and even cancer before they become serious threats to your dogs’ health.
Keep in mind that veterinary visits can be a stressful experience for your dogs, who cannot understand why they are being poked and prodded in a place full of strange smells and stressed animals. Remain with your dogs at all times, comforting them by speaking in a soothing voice and holding or petting them while the veterinarian performs the examination.
Older dogs need more care, just like older family members. Make sure you are there for your dogs always. Remember, you are their world; don’t disappoint them. A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.
Important tips you need to keep in mind
Prevent children from mishandling your dogs, even playfully.
Don’t keep your dogs chained. Life at the end of a chain for social animals like dogs is the worst torture ever.
Ensure your dogs wear collars with your name and contact details.
Keep collars only to carry identification. It’s got to be a royal pain for the dogs to be leashed by the neck, especially if your guardian tends to tug or yank. There are all kinds of sensitive tissues in the throat, like discs, nerves, oesophagus and windpipe. Don’t ever use a choke chain.
Use harnesses to walk your dogs. If excessive pulling isn’t an issue with your dogs, then a standard nylon-web H-style harness would be right. For tiny dogs, there is a soft, comfortable little harness called the puppia. For pullers, try the sensation harness.