Your dog is one of the most special relationships in your life. You depend on each other, have adventures, and share many memories. Your dog has been domesticated, though, meaning that they now rely on you for food, shelter, and survival—as opposed to pulling from their instincts and working with a pack of other animals. Therefore, you are responsible for caring for your dog in the best way you can to ensure that they are your companion for many years to come. Here are some of the most important tips to learn and practice to care for your dog well.
Safe and Clean Environment
Dogs need a clean, safe space in which to feel comfortable. They want a space where they can nestle and make a den-like sleeping space, as well as a place where they can urinate and defecate without having to be near it. Provide them with a cozy nook and clean up after them regularly.
Fresh Water Supply
In the wild, dogs find fresh water wherever available. In your home, you must have water available to them in an easily accessible place to stay hydrated and healthy. This helps keep up their energy levels and promotes natural body function.
Dogs can become unhealthy and overweight when fed low-quality food, just like humans. Ask your vet which food is best for your dog’s particular size, age, breed, and activity level. Choose dog-appropriate treats as rewards rather than scraps of human food at irregular intervals.
Stay Near them When Eating
Dogs eat together in the wild. Stay close to them while they eat to give them the feeling of it being a communal activity. This helps teach them appropriate eating behaviors and will encourage picky eaters to be more engaged.
Regular Veterinary Care
Your dog needs to go to the doctor, too! Regular checkups ensure your dog is growing and developing properly and help find problems when they’re easy to solve (before they become serious). Veterinarians can also help you get the right information to make the best decisions for your pup.
Enroll in a Pet Insurance Policy
Of course, veterinary care and further situations often become very expensive. Explore accident & illness pet insurance policies that help pay for eligible vet bills for unfortunate and unexpected pet accidents and illnessessuch as broken limbs, toxic food consumption, or cancer..
Dogs need oral care to keep their teeth from rotting and their breath from smelling. You can brush your canine’s canines once a week and give treats that promote oral health. These practices help prevent gum disease, leading to heart problems further down the road.
Grooming and Nail Care
Regular bathing and brushing help prevent mats, snarls, and built-up dirt from taking over your pet’s beautiful coat. It also helps maintain healthy skin underneath. Nail trims and grinds keep your dog’s paws from catching on things or becoming a hindrance to walking and running.
Keep a “First Aid Kit” on Hand
You never know what mishaps might happen with a pet! They need special types of first aid treatment that are different from what you might have in your medicine cabinet. Prepare a kit with items for if their nails get cut too short, if they swallow something they shouldn’t, or if something gets caught in their fur, for example.
Plenty of Exercise
Of course, one of the things a dog needs most is plenty of space to run and play! If you don’t have a large yard for them to exert their energy in, make it a priority to go out for long walks, runs, or hikes at least once a day, if not more. Even if you have a great deal of space, structured exercise helps improve your dog’s obedience and provides a connection with you.
Variety in Play
Dogs get bored when they aren’t given an outlet for all their mental and physical energy. A bored dog equals disaster when left alone in a home or yard! Switch up their walk or exercise routine, take them on errands and adventures, and cycle their toys to keep them stimulated.
Correct Bad Behavior Immediately
The best way to keep a dog from picking up bad habits is by nipping the behaviors in the bud. As soon as you see your pup doing something negative, reprimand or discipline them (firmly but kindly). They won’t connect it if you try to correct it later on.
Connection and Communication
Speaking of connection, your dog gets just as much out of this as you do! The more you look your pup in the eyes, speak to them, and offer rewards for good behavior, the more loyal they become. Dogs are social and thrive when they have a deep relationship with their pack leader (you!).
Secure Your Trash
Nothing is worse than coming home to a kitchen with trash strewn all about. Not only do you have a big mess to clean up, but your furry friend could have gotten into something dangerous! If you had chocolate, chicken bones, or leftover dinner with onions and garlic in that trash, your dog could get very sick. Make sure your trash has a lid on top that your dog can’t get into.
Put Away Cleaners, Chemicals, and Medications
In addition to your trash, keep your cleaning solutions and medications far out of your pup’s reach. You never know what a dog might get into—it would be tragic if they accidentally swallowed something toxic.
Pay Attention to the Weather
If your climate gets very hot or very cold, your dog feels this, too! Moisturize their paws in the winter and take care not to walk them on hot cement when the temperatures rise. Of course, never leave them in a hot car, or they could suffocate.
Just like people, dogs do well when they have set boundaries and limits that they need to follow. It helps them feel that they are doing their job and gives them a positive outlet for their mental energy. Of course, teach your companion simple commands such as sit, stay, down, leave it, and come. Think about further training as a way to enhance your connection and communication, too!
Spaying or neutering a dog you don’t plan on breeding helps keep the animal population under control. It also saves you the trouble of a litter of puppies you aren’t prepared for! Of course, if you want to breed your pet responsibly, that’s within your rights. Just make sure you research everything that goes along with it and that you’re prepared (financially and with time and energy) for the journey. Know more about the costs of spaying and neutering a dog.
Make sure your pet has an ID tag with your name, phone number, and address on it. You never know what could happen! A microchip is also a smart idea just in case they get out and their collar comes off.
This is a tip for both your dog and you! Your dog is learning their place in your home and what their dynamic should be. You’re learning to become a responsible pet owner and a positive companion. This is a journey you’re making together! Give yourself grace and if you or your doggo makes a mistake, take a deep breath and start again.
Your dog is your best friend. You love them more than you ever thought you could love a pet! Now you know how to care for and love them in all the best possible ways.