Five Crucial Tips for the First Time Dog Owner

Here at Good Dog! Magazine we love nothing more than to hear about a first time dog owner doing research on how to care for their new doggo! Here are our top five tips.

By Julian Ward-Smith

1.  Environment

There are a few things you can do to keep your dog comfortable at home and when you are out and about.

a) Car travel
Unless of course your dog is driving (and I sincerely hope it is not!), always make sure your dog is secure when in the car. Use a dog guard or, if traveling in the back seat, use a seat belt. If you do have to leave your vehicle for any length of time, even for five minutes, be sure to leave your window open a crack and a bowl of water for your four-legged friend.

b) A comfortable bed
Dogs love a cosy bed. This should be situated in a quiet part of the house where your faithful hound feels safe and secure. It should be cleaned on a regular basis and any bedding should be washed to keep it fresh.

c) Hazards around the home
There are lots of hidden dangers in the home and garden that should be kept out of reach from our furry friends. You can find a comprehensive list at this website www.thekennelclubclub.org.uk

2. Diet

Dogs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  The type and amount of food they need depends on various factors including age, health and lifestyle. You certainly don’t want your pets to feel embarrassed in front of their friends!

a) What should you feed your dog?
A nutritionally complete pet food is the best way to make sure your pets gets all the nutrients they need. The odd treat is fine but remember those extra calories can soon turn to fat so it is better to keep them to a minimum. Don’t forget the water bowl!

b) How much should you feed your dog?
Weigh out each meal as it is very easy, as with humans, to put too much food in the bowl. This is especially important for some breeds that tend to overeat. It is obvious but if our pets eat too much they will gain weight.

c) How often should you feed your dog?
Like us, our pets prefer routine, so it is good to have regular mealtimes. It is usually best to divide the daily allowance into two meals such as breakfast and dinner.

3. Behaviour

a) Do you need to train your dog?
Training is a great way to keep your dog’s mind active. It is easier to have fun and enjoyable walks when you have a well-trained dog. Like us, dogs need boundaries and if your pet understands this it will respect you and your rules which will lead to a more fulfilling relationship.

b) Toys
Dogs love to be stimulated and this keeps them very happy. They love to play, run and most of them love swimming. It is a good idea to have a variety of different toys so your dog doesn’t get bored and remains engaged in play.

c) Exercise
The amount of exercise your dog needs depends on age, health and breed. All dogs however enjoy regular walks and being free of their lead whenever possible. They enjoy being out and about socialising with other canines and generally having fun!

4. Health

Dog health can be a major cause of stress for the first time dog owner. There are many things one can do to make sure your pet leads a long and healthy life. We all want our dogs to be happy so looking after their well-being is very important.

a) Vaccinations
These protect your dog against diseases, which can sometimes be fatal and they also prevent diseases from being passed to other canines. Vaccines help to stimulate your dog’s immune system to help fight off disease. Our four-legged friends should be vaccinated when they are puppies and then receive boosters during their lifetime. Your vet will tell you when you should vaccinate your dog.

b) Fleas and worms
All dogs should be treated regularly for fleas and worms. You can have your pet injected or you could use sprays or tablets. It is best to ask your veterinary practice for their advice on which treatment they would recommend.

c) Dental health
Looking after your dog’s teeth is as important as looking after your own. There is nothing worse than “dog breath” and there are plenty of pet friendly tooth pastes on the market suitable for your pet. Don’t forget, regular brushing will keep your canine’s canines sparkling!! You can also use special foods and toys that will keep teeth healthy.

5. Companionship

Dogs are extremely sociable creatures and they adore company. Adult dogs don’t really like to be left on their own for any significant amount of time. As a first time dog owner you’ll get the benefits of lots of loving kisses and snuggles but keep in mind it’s a responsibility as well!

a) Visiting
If you must leave your furry friend alone for longer than the recommended time during the day it is a good idea to have someone pop in and visit your dog. They just need to stay for a short while and let your dog out for a run or take it for a walk and check it has enough water.

b) Anxiety
If you do need to go out for a few hours on a regular basis this may mean that your dog becomes anxious when you leave the house. If you do notice a change in your dog’s behavior speak to your vet and get some advice. It may even be as simple as leaving a radio or television on while you are out as this may allay some of your canine’s anxieties.

c) Holidays
Dogs like routine and being in their own environment. Most vets will tell you that our four-legged friends don’t like kennels and are often miserable when their owners return from holiday. There is also a danger that your furry friend may get kennel cough or some other illness. It is very important that pets are looked after properly in your absence. For this reason, increasingly more people are using professional pet and house sitters to live in their home and look after their pets while away. Your faithful hound will certainly thank you for it and, with new people to play with, your dog will think it is on holiday too!

Julian Ward-Smith is the Founder and Owner of Professional House Sitters, bringing together pet owners and pet sitters worldwide. Find out more at: www.professionalhouse-sitters.com

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