Join Katya's Newsletter Instagram Twitter Facebook Youtube Snapchat

Five Tips For New Dog Owners

Whether you own a regal looking Afghan hound, an excitable Pomeranian or a family friendly Labrador, there are some basic dog care routines that all dog owners must adhere to.  While some breeds that are rare or highly pedigreed may need a specially prescribed diet or special grooming practices, generally dogs need you to look after their health, diet, grooming, and exercise.

Here are some of the most basic things you can do to keep your dog healthy and happy.

Diet
Have a regular feeding schedule for your dog, and stick to it religiously.  Feed him only high quality and premium dog foods. Economy dog foods are not just inferior in their protein sources, but they may also lack important vitamins and minerals that should be part of a healthy dog’s habit.  Economy brands can also be more expensive in the longer run since they are often designed to be less filling, so the dog needs more food.  While buying a brand of dog food, take your dog’s age, weight size, breed and activity level into consideration.  Make sure your dog has a constant supply of fresh water in his bowl.

Exercise
No matter what the size of your dog, he needs plenty of exercise, and not just in your yard. Many dog owners make the mistake of assuming that all a large dog needs is a large yard to bound about in.  No. A  large dog needs a long walk and some fresh air. He would be perfectly happy in a smaller house or yard. Some breeds of dogs need more exercise than others. When your buy a dog, take their activity levels into consideration.  If you can’t spare a lot of time to exercise your dog, go in for a breed that’s comfortable with lesser amounts of activity.

Vet Visits
Your dog needs to have a periodic evaluation of his health by a veterinary doctor.  Take your dog to a vet for  complete physical every six months.  Observe your dog’s eating and eliminating habits, and look for changes in his skin and any discharge from his eyes and ears. If you notice anything strange, tell your vet about it.

Training

Training a dog is not just for show competition purposes. You may not need your dog to display acrobatics, but you certainly need him to understand and obey some basic commands. Train your dogs to obey you through obedience training techniques.  With a wealth of information available online, there’s really no need for you to let your pet remain untrained.  An untrained dog is not just a danger to others, but also risks injuring himself. Training your dog helps you control his behavior which is a vital part of responsible dog ownership.

Grooming
Some breeds require more intensive grooming than others, but ordinarily your dog should be groomed everyday. Use a soft bristled brush to brush his fur daily.  Keep his nails short, but not too short, and well trimmed at all times. Clean his ears with cottons swabs,and wipe off excess mucus from his eyes and nose.  Don’t forget his canines – a soft bristled toothbrush and a doggy flavored toothpaste will keep his molars looking sparkling clean.

Spaying and Neutering
Neutering or spaying your dog is an absolute must.  There are too many dogs without homes or shelters for your dog to contribute to the canine overpopulation.  Dogs should be neutered before they are 6 months old. Neutering a dog has many benefits – they become less territorial and less aggressive.  Neutering also prevents the development of various cancers in your dog like cancer of the prostrate.

Females need to be spayed before 6 months too. You don’t want your dog to go through a pregnancy and a stressful and hormone ridden delivery every three months.  Moreover, the scent of  a female in heat can attract unneutered males from miles around. Dogs attracted to a female have been known to try to enter yards, and indulge in bloody fights over the female.

Companionship
Your dog is a social animal and needs company and companionship. Don’t confine him to the yard or hide him away in a crate for a long period of time.  Make the time to play with him and shower lots of affection on your loving pet. 

Responsible dog ownership is about taking good care of your pet, feeding him, and exercising him, and helping him to assimilate himself into society through obedience training. The above tips will help you lay the foundation for a mutually affectionate dog -owner relationship.

Building a dog’s confidence

You know the type. A nervous anxious dog who seems fearful of just about anything – humans, other dogs, bicycles. Needless to say, a shy dog can be a problem for you, the owner. The type of behavior he exhibits and his complete lack of confidence will make it impossible for you to give him even the most basic training. Not to mention that a fearful dog is much more likely to get into fights with other dogs.

Confidence building itself can be a misunderstood term in the doggie context. The point here is not to build up your dog’s ego (yes, they have egos) to the point where they are cocky, and believe they, and not you are the leader of the pack. Training a dog always involves letting him know that you are the leader. For obvious reasons, training a fearful dog will involve slightly different methods.

How to Recognize a Fearful Dog

A shy dog will have his tail tucked firmly between his legs and his ears flattened against his head. His head will be lowered – a sure sign that he doesn’t consider himself to be the dominant leader of the pack and he trembles – and pants excessively. If you reach forward to pet him, he backs away. In extreme cases of fear, the dog might run to run away or urinate.

Causes of the Fear

A dog that hasn’t been properly socialized in the early stages can be expected to be nervous or shy around strangers. Socialization exposes him to other dogs and human beings and therefore he does not recognize these as anything to be afraid of. A dog that’s been locked up in a kennel for a major part of his life has difficulty relating to and accepting people and situations. You also have to consider that’s some dog breeds are naturally mild mannered. Dogs that might have been shunted between homes frequently or been abused are likely to suffer from nervous disorders. Not all shy dogs are the product of abuse however. Illnesses often force a dog to lose self esteem. A dog in pain or discomfort will not be outgoing. You might try having him checked by a vet to ascertain there is nothing physically wrong with him. Puppies who have had terrifying experiences are very likely to retain memories of the unpleasant incident leading to fearful behavior as an adult.

Training a Shy Dog

The process of building confidence in a dog involves a lengthy process of desensitization. Be patient. Results won’t be immediate.

First determine the objects that he is fearful of and slowly begin exposing him to it. If he is afraid of people, enlist the help of a friend. Let this person be in the same room with the dog but without approaching him or acknowledging him in any manner. Once the dog has gotten used to your friend’s presence, tell him to offer the dog some treat with his hands held behind him and his back to the dog. This is a non threatening position for the dog. Once he is comfortable receiving treats from a stranger, ask your friend to begin speaking to him. The next steps would be to face him and pat him. If at any point in this process, the dog shies away, go back to the previous step and start all over again.

If your dog is afraid of other dogs then don’t just introduce him to a whole bunch of them and expect him to just get along. Take him for a walk on a leash to a park where there are other dogs with their owners. The leash shouldn’t be too tight because then he feels restricted and vulnerable. This might then turn into fear – a prime cause for a dog fight. Act nonchalant among the other dogs. Dogs can pick up behavior patterns from others around them. If he notices you’re completely relaxed, he might decide there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Sit Happens and DVF Mastiff have a series of confidence building exercises that you can practice with your dog.

Above all be patient. A dog can take months of such therapy before he gains some confidence. Don’t berate him or poke fun at him. Encourage him and be generous with praise. Treat him to the things he enjoys – a run in the park, his favorite treats. He might never evolve into an outgoing enthusiastic animal but eventually, he will learn to be more comfortable in his own fur.