Bringing a dog into your family is a wonderful experience. Dogs are phenomenal companions, filled with love for their owners. But there are a few things you’ll need to know when it comes to basic dog care if this is the first time you’ve had a pet. Things probably won’t be smooth and easy all of the time. Just remember that whatever bumps in the road you might experience will be more than worth it in the long run.
Here is some basic information about how to care for a dog.
Bringing Home a Puppy
If you are getting a puppy, feeding is one of the most important things to consider. Your pup’s age will determine how many times they will need to eat each day. For example, the general rule of thumb is that puppies two to three months old need four meals per day. From three to six months, they need three meals each day. From six months to one year, they need two meals.1 Talk to your vet about the amount of food you should give your specific breed of puppy at mealtime.
Another important thing to remember when it comes to how to take care of a dog or a puppy is the type of food you buy. Only look for brands that have the highest-quality ingredients, and limit the amount of human food you give your new pup. Too much “people food” can lead to not only obesity in your dog, but also problems with its teeth and bones.2
In addition, you’ll need to make sure your pup has an ample supply of fresh water at all times. You’ll also want to make sure you clean food and water bowls regularly.
Bringing Home an Adopted Dog
First of all, if you rescue a dog from a shelter, congratulations! Shelters across the country are filled with thousands of great dogs who want nothing more than to find a new home. However, you’ll need to make sure you establish some ground rules. This is especially true if you’re bringing home an older dog.
Here are some of the main questions that will need to be answered when you talk to your family about your dog care routine.
- Who will be responsible for feeding your new family member?
- Who will take the dog for walks?
- Who will get the job of picking up after the dog takes care of their “business?”
These are basic dog care questions that need to be addressed before you bring your dog home.
Also, it’s important that your new dog has plenty of time to get used to their new environment. Try to limit the dog to one room (and keep a dog bed in the room) for the first couple of days. That way, they can become familiar with the new sounds and smells of your home. Put a dog gate in the doorway rather than shutting the door. After all, you don’t want to completely shut the dog off from their new family. Also, consider keeping your dog on a leash when inside for a few weeks. This will allow the dog to get used to being on a leash, and it’ll help you show your pup what’s acceptable and not acceptable in terms of behavior.3
Whether you bring home a puppy or an older rescue dog, obedience training will be key to forming a loving, long-lasting relationship. If dogs don’t have training, they won’t listen to you. They won’t have any way of understanding what you want from them. This can lead to big problems, such as excessive barking, or chewing through furniture and shoes.4
One of the most important aspects of dog care is making sure your pet gets plenty of exercise. How much exercise does your pup need? The exact amount depends on several factors, including your dog’s breed and their general health.
Exercise is not just vital for your pet’s health, but for their mental state as well. If dogs don’t play enough, they can become bored. And boredom may lead to unwanted behavior, such as tearing up an owner’s possessions or digging in the yard. Take the time to play with your new companion as much as possible.5
This is another critical part of proper dog care. Keeping your pet clean will help keep their skin and coat healthy and free of ticks and fleas that can lead to serious problems. Brush your dog’s coat regularly to cut down on shedding, as well as the potentially painful matting of fur. If you choose to bathe your dog yourself, make sure you keep water away from their eyes, nose, and ears as much as you can. Once the bath is over, dry your pup thoroughly with a large towel.6
Never neglect the health of your dog’s teeth. Brushing on a regular basis is important because it will help reduce the chances of gum disease and tooth loss. The healthier your dog’s mouth, the higher the likelihood they will be in good overall health.7 Talk to your vet about this vital area of dog care.
Wrapping it Up
You’ll find a lot of information on dogs and dog care online, of course. And it’s not hard to learn basic dog care. But in order to make sure your new fur baby is as healthy and happy as possible, talk to your vet on a regular basis. What’s good for one dog might not be good for another. By working with your vet, you can come up with the perfect dog care needs to help your dog always be at their best!