Dogs are the most popular pet choice in the United States, with 65.1 million households owning them, and for good reasons. Having a dog adds joy and unconditional love to your life. It’s an animal that is known to be loyal to their human parent. Having a dog also helps reduce stress and develop a sense of security and companionship. But adopting a dog brings added responsibility and requires a commitment to caring for the animal, as if it were your child.
Whether you’re a first-time owner or someone who needs some guidance on dog care, here are important tips to ensure your four-legged friend receives a loving environment and proper care.
Train your dog
Training makes dogs well-behaved creatures. You need to train your dog how to behave around people and do their dirty business without making a mess, among developing many other healthy habits.
There are many ways to train your dog and adopt habits, but positive reinforcement is considered the most effective approach. This training routine involves rewarding your dog with a treat (or anything that motivates them) after carrying out a desired task without the use of punishment.
Teaching your dog basic behavioral commands like sitting and waiting is important, as they give you greater control over your pet. With proper training, you don’t need to worry about issues such as your dog chewing furniture, barking excessively and home soiling. If you don’t have time to train your pet, consider putting them in a boarding school for dogs that provides a structured environment to train dogs. This is a great option if you travel frequently.
Take care of your dog’s diet
There are several things you can do to ensure you are feeding your dog in the best possible way:
- Feed your dog twice a day (though exact requirements may vary with breed and age)
- Give protein-rich foods like meat (poultry, fish)
- Give high-quality dog feed and brands that meet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards
- Control the portion based on the weight and activity level of your dog
- Avoid human food, table scraps and free feeding to prevent unhealthy eating habits
- Ensure your pet always has water to drink
Provide your dog with plenty of exercise
Dogs are active animals and many are bred for strenuous activities like hunting and herding. They are naturally inclined to explore and move about. Regular exercise helps your dog stay fit, live a prolonged life and prevent diseases like diabetes. It’s a great way to channel their energy and relieve boredom.
Taking your dog out for exercise is also a great way to bond with your pet. This is a great way to spend time with them and it shows that you care about their well-being. The duration and type of exercise will vary with the breed and age of the dog, but the following suggestions work for almost every dog:
- Walking: Simple walks around your block with your dog are a great way to start. 20–30-minute daily walks are enough for an average dog, but high-energy breeds will require more. If it is an open space, let your dog walk without a leash at their own pace.
- Cycling: This exercise would allow your dog to walk at a faster pace. There are many bike lanes where you can safely cycle with your dog.
- Playing Fetch: The classic fetch game is a great way to burn energy in a short period. Alternate the things you throw, such as a ball, flying disc or a toy, to maintain your dog’s interest levels.
- Hiking and Exploration: Taking your dog hiking or to some new park occasionally gives them an area to explore and stretch their legs.
Don’t ignore grooming
Regular grooming not only helps keep your dog feeling at their best and keep them neat and clean, but it also aids in the prevention of diseases. This is because grooming removes dead hair and dirt from your dog’s skin and fur. Here are some notable things that must be looked after, whether you’re grooming your dog at home or sending them to a care center.
- Brushing: Brushing your dog’s coat regularly ventilates the fur and skin and removes old, damaged hair and dandruff. This allows new hair to grow healthy and strong. Using a comb and brush is a good idea as it prevents knots and tangles.
- Bathing: This is necessary to keep your dog’s coat clean and free from skin infections. Use a mild shampoo for dogs and warm water. Soft and clean brushes should be used for scrubbing and lathering. You can cover their ears with cotton balls while bathing to prevent water from entering.
- Nail trimming: Long nails can make walking painful and they may break easily, causing pain to your furry friend. Use a small clipper so you go toe by toe, and don’t cut too much. Doing it patiently and gently is important, as dogs are averse to having their nails trimmed. A good practice is giving them a treat after you’re done to make them more comfortable every time you trim their nails.
Make regular trips to the vet
Regular visits to the vet help you keep tabs on your dog’s health. It’s a good way to ensure your dog is healthy and has no signs of disease. The vet will also vaccinate your pet, which is important since animals are likely to catch contagious diseases and spread them around.
Find a reliable vet in your neighborhood and take your dog to them at least twice a year. You can also ask other dog owners for recommendations.
Owning a dog is an amazing and transformative experience. These four-legged companions enrich our lives in many ways and teach us about loyalty, forgiveness and much more. But as a pet owner, you should prioritize your pet’s physical and emotional well-being so they can live happy and fulfilling lives. Use the tips mentioned above to ensure you’re fulfilling your responsibility as a pet parent.