Introducing a dog into your family is a huge commitment. As well as regular exercise, your dog needs the right diet and training. He may also require veterinary treatment, which can be expensive. A healthy dog is a happy dog, so if this is your first dog, read on for some tips to help keep him in tip-top condition.
Regular Health Checks
Register your dog with a local veterinarian as soon as you take him home. If you bought him from a reputable breeder or animal shelter, he should be healthy and have had all his shots, but it is worth taking him for a health check, just to make sure he has no serious health problems. Thereafter, an annual health check around the time he has his booster shots is a good idea.
When your dog reaches his senior years, he will benefit from a twice-yearly health check. This will ensure any chronic issues such as reduced kidney function and arthritis are detected and treated early.
The Right Diet
Most dogs will eat anything you give them, and plenty more besides, but this isn’t healthy for them. Dogs need different nutrients at different stages in their life. Young dogs need high-protein food to help them grow whereas older, less active dogs are better on low-calorie food to prevent obesity.
Look for a quality dog food that matches your pet’s age and activity levels. Wet food is nice and palatable, but dry food is better for their teeth and doesn’t spoil in hot weather. Feed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Diet supplements can provide the extra boost your dog may need at certain times in his life. For example, Nutra Thrive contains digestive enzymes and antioxidants, which promote a healthy digestive system. Other supplements can provide relief from painful arthritis.
Dogs need plenty of exercise, even so-called lap dogs. Exercise stimulates the body and the mind. It’s a chance for a dog to let off steam, play, and socialize with other dogs. Ideally, walk your dog at least twice a day. Bigger breeds will need to be walked for several miles each day, but smaller breeds are usually happy with a short 20-minute walk twice a day.
If you don’t have time to take your dog for long walks each day, or you work full-time, send your dog to doggy daycare or pay for a pet walker to take your dog out. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise can be destructive. This is especially the case with very intelligent breeds such as collies, spaniels, and poodles. Your dog may also exhibit other behavioral problems, such as excessive barking and depression.
One solution if you live in a city or there are very few suitable walking routes near your home is to find other ways to stimulate the dog. Many dogs love to fetch. Throw balls or let your dog chase after sticks. He’ll be happy, and you won’t need to walk too far.
A well-trained dog is a happy dog. Dogs are pack animals. They need to know their place in the pack (your family), or else they become anxious and confused. An aggressive dog is a danger to everyone. In many cases, aggression is rooted in a lack of appropriate training at a young age. Dogs who don’t come back when called or chase other dogs and people are also a menace.
Always teach your dog basic commands such as “sit”, “stay”, and “down”. Even an older dog can learn new tricks! And remember, food and kindness are great motivators.
Socialize Your Dog
Hot on the heels of basic training comes socialization. Introduce your dog to other pets from a young age. It will help build his confidence and make him less likely to react with fear or aggression when he meets other pets on his daily walk.
Many veterinarians offer puppy socializing classes for new dog owners. They provide a useful opportunity for doggy moms and dads to meet up once a week at the vet’s clinic. There, you can meet other puppies in a safe environment. Puppy socializing classes are usually supervised by a trained veterinarian nurse, so you have plenty of helpful advice freely available.
If you follow the advice above, you should end up with a happy and healthy dog!