Owning a dog or any other pet is a massive responsibility, but a very pleasant one because a furry friend can bring so much into your home. By nature dogs are loving and loyal, they become valuable members of the family and very often turn into the children’s best friend. If you are new to the world of dogs, there's a lot to think about before you make your final decision as to whether you have enough time to commit to a canine companion because dogs need to be given lots of love and care.
Whether you are a new dog owner or not, there are certain “rules” worth noting down which will go a long way in keeping your furry friend happy and healthy.
If you have set your heart on sharing your home with a puppy you need to commit all the time needed to guide them through the early months of their lives so they turn out to be confident, happy, well-balanced dogs. It's the time to gently teach them that you are the leader of the pack and to set the “house rules” right from the word go.
You also need to set up a nice warm and cosy area for them remembering it needs to be somewhere they feel comfortable and secure because the first few days after leaving mum and their litter mates are going to be hard on your little friend. You need to set up some nice warm bedding and ideally this needs to be made out of natural materials rather than anything synthetic. All bedding needs to be kept clean which means investing in a few blankets, dog beds and cushions so you have plenty of clean bedding when any soiled or dirty items are being washed.
If you decide to adopt an older dog and there are plenty of them in rescue centres all waiting to be given a second chance, then you'll need to make sure can provide them with a safe environment to live in and see to it that they get plenty of exercise and attention, especially during the first few weeks when they may be feeling a little vulnerable in their new surroundings.
It doesn't matter whether you choose to share your home with a long or short-haired dog you still have to set up a grooming routine so that you form a strong bond with them while at the same time keeping their coats and skin in great condition. You'll need to invest in the right tools to suit your dog's coat too. Frequent brushing will help get rid of any loose and dead hair which means there'll be less left around your home on carpets and furniture.
Unless your dog is really filthy and smelly, you shouldn't need to give them a bath more than 3 times a year and ideally this should be when the weather is warmer so there’s they’re likely to catch a chill. It's really important to make sure they are thoroughly dried to prevent this from happening no matter what time of the year it is.
It's also very important to regularly check your dog's ears and this is especially true if you share your home with a long-eared dog that just can't resist jumping in water whenever they can. If you notice any nasty smell coming from one or both ears, it's time to have them checked out by a vet who would recommend the right sort of ear drops to clear things up quickly and before a nasty infection has a chance to set in.
If your dog allows you to brush their teeth, this needs to be done on a regular basis using dog specific toothpaste which helps prevent too much tartar from building up that typically causes all sorts of dental problems. You should also give your dog lots of chews which are specifically designed to reduce the amount of tartar that forms on their teeth. It's also a good idea to have a vet check them over on a regular basis which could be when they go for their check-ups!
A healthy dog has lovely clear, bright and alert eyes with no discharge at the corners. However, some breeds like the Poodle, Shih Tzu and Maltese to name but three are prone to tear stains developing in the corners of their eyes because they have shallower eye sockets. Unless there is a nasty smell or blood in the tears, apart from it being unsightly it does not present anything to be worried about health-wise.
If you notice any redness, swelling or inflammation around your dog's eyes and if there's a watery discharge coming from them or if there's a film forming over their eyes, it's time to make an appointment and take your pet to see the vet sooner rather than later.
Even when dogs are walked daily, you still need to check their nails on a regular basis to make sure they are wearing down evenly and that none are torn. It also allows you to check their paw pads which occasionally get dry and cracked which can then lead to soreness and could end up causing a quite nasty infection which often proves hard to clear up.
It’s important that dogs are taken to the vet for regular check-ups especially when they get older because the earlier a health problem is detected, the easier it tends to be for vets to clear up.