animals

How to care for a dog

How to care for a dog

How to care for a dog

 

Once you’ve got a dog home as a pet, she depends on you for her physical and emotional well – being. Like we discussed in an earlier blog (link), dogs are pack animals and will look up to you as the leader of the pack, which means she expects you to provide the love and protection she needs. 

 

With a little planning, this is something that you can easily manage, so long as you take care of a few key points:

 

1 – Cleanliness

 

Remember when your child was a toddler and you’d have to ensure that there was absolutely nothing on the floor that she could pick up and put in his mouth? Well, it is more or less the same with your dog. Be it footwear, toys or even the furniture – your dog will chew on all of it for the first three to six months. While this helps her during the teething process, it also goes a long way in strengthening her jaws, providing exercise and stimulation. So get her a ball and other chewing toys (there are quite a few safe, inexpensive options available in the market) and ensure your home is clean, especially the floor. Additionally, you may want to identify a place for the dog to rest, which will have to be clean, airy (not a closet!) and comfortable.

 

2 – Food and Water

 

I know several people that feed their dogs three or even four times a day. Pretty much whenever they have a meal, which is at least thrice a day, the dog too is fed. This is catastrophic. Your dog needs to eat just once a day, or at the very most, you can split that up to twice a day. Sure, you can give him a treat every other day, but as far as meals go, once or twice is sufficient.

The thing you shouldn’t scrounge on is water. Always ensure her bowl is cleaned and filled with fresh water to drink. A hydrated dog on a good diet is the secret to a healthy and happy companion!

 

3 – Touch and Feel discipline

 

When you’ve got your pup home, for the first three weeks, do the following everyday:

  1. Put her on the ground, and touch here everywhere, including inside the mouth, between the toes, inside her ears, on the tummy etc. (without hurting her of course!)
  2. Place her food in her bowl, but don’t allow her to eat until you tell her it is fine to eat. This will take some patience to enforce, but worth doing. While she is eating, take the bowl away for a couple of minutes from under her mouth, and then give it back to her
  3. Give her a treat or ball or other toy, and then take it from her mouth. Be gentle, but wedge it out if you have to. After a couple of minutes, give it back to her

 Sleeping English Cocker Spaniel

This isn’t an exercise in being sadistic – it is essentially preparing your dog for life with your family. By touching her, you are establishing that it is fine if your child, or any one else for that matter, touches her anywhere, and it is not a reason for her to snap at them. Same for the food – you are establishing that you’re the boss, which is very important to do and enforce discipline. Then there is of course the added benefit that later in life if someone touches her accidentally while feeding, she won’t attack them. With love and patience, you will have a wonderful dog that listens to you (most of the time, that is!).

 

A word of caution – no matter what, don’t hit the poor creature. Not even with a rolled up newspaper. Dogs are very intelligent, and WANT to please you. So if you aren’t able to get her to do what you want, the fault probably lies with you, and if you have an impulse to use that rolled up newspaper, simply go ahead and give yourself a good whack on the head! With dogs, rewards work better than punishment. Reward her with small treat or lavish praise for good behaviour or doing what you want, and it is a lesson she will remember for life.

 

 

4 – Exercise

 

Irrespective of the breed, every dog should be walked at least thrice a day, if not more, for about 20 minutes or so. This is great exercise and stimulation for the dog. In addition, certain breeds (link to previous blog on dog breeds) will require more exercise, and you could play games like ‘fetch’ which they thoroughly enjoy. Coupled with a good diet, exercise will ensure your dog’s health, both, physical and mental.

 Big dogs need plenty of exercise

5 – Grooming

 

Depending on the breed and the climactic conditions of where you live, bathe your dog with good quality, chemical – free herbal shampoo at least once, or ideally twice a week. For instance, we have an English Cocker Spaniel and we live in Mumbai. Given the breed and weather, we find that he needs a bath once every four days. Check with your vet what is the ideal interval for your dog, and stick to it. Irrespective of the bathing interval, ensure that you brush her coat every day to keep it fresh and odour – free. What’s more, your dog will also love getting her coat brushed, and it is a great exercise for kids to bond with the pet, be responsible and care for someone!

Besides these, check on the state of her teeth and gums regularly. There are quite a few good quality products in the market that your dog can chew on for optimum dental hygiene and you can ask your vet

to recommend the ideal one.

 

6 – Socialising

 

From the start, get your dog to meet other dogs in a safe environment. This will get her to be sociable and tone down aggressive behaviour, if any. Likewise, YOU need to spend time with your dog. Try and walk her at least once a day, or every other day if you can. Pet her, talk to her (yes, you can talk to her) and generally make her feel loved. Not only is this great for your dog, you will be amazed at the wonders it does for your health too!

 

7 – Regular Checks

 

It is a good idea to also take your dog for regular routine check – ups to the vet, say once every six months or so. Simultaneously, you should regularly check on her physical health too. This involves checking her for injuries or any other anomaly like bad odour, discoloration etc on:

  • The ears. There should be no discharge or malodour or visible injuries
  • Teeth and gums
  • Claws and paws

This is especially true if you live in an area where your dog spends time in gardens and lawns where she could pick up worms or other ‘unwanteds’!

 

Like we said, caring for your dog is not just very easy, but also extremely rewarding and satisfying in itself. if nothing else, it will give you the joy that you get having a healthy and happy pet for a companion!

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