Have you ALWAYS wanted your OWN dog? Here’s some advice from a lifetime dog owner…
It’s natural that you and your kids would love the whole idea of having a dog. Dogs are awesome pets, great company, and have been amazing comrades for thousands of years. It’s always a great idea to get a dog, but you have to remember that you are also taking on some responsibility when you bring a dog into your house. Here are some ways you can handle those responsibilities.
Always give your dog plenty of attention and affection. When your dog behaves properly, make sure you pet them, talk positively to them, let the dog know you are happy and give them some affection. This helps reinforce the good behavior and the dog will try to behave this way for the positive attention.
If your young dog is teething and gnawing on everything (including you and the kids), buy him a couple of fun chew toys and keep one in the fridge. Not only does this provide him with a good alternative to your furniture, but the cold will help to make his gums feel better. Most younger dogs gnaw out of necessity, because their mouth and gums are painful when their adult teeth are emerging. They don’t generally chew just to be a nuisance, but because it makes their mouth hurt less.
Never allow your dog to be alone with small children, no matter how much you trust his temperament. Many little kids have been bitten by family dogs who have otherwise never demonstrated a tendency towards violence. Sleeping dogs may be woken by a toddler, and often a toddler doesn’t have any idea that the dog doesn’t like to be hit, punched, or have its tail or ears pulled. Any dog may react negatively, and it is NOT the dogs’ fault.
Not everyone is good at training dogs, so quit trying if you see things are not going as well as planned. Instead of beating yourself up about it, find a professional trainer in your area. Since they have more experience with dogs, it should be much easier for them to train yours. Alternatively, group classes in basic obedience are often less expensive and just as useful, and you’ll learn as much as your dog does if you attend training sessions!
If your dog is unused to the grooming process, only work with him or her in short bursts. Groom for about five minutes and then stop and move on to another activity. Eventually, start adding on two or three minutes to your total grooming time until your pet is able to handle a full session. Grooming is stressful for many dogs at first, and a young dog especially will have a hard time staying still for long periods of time. Be aware and sympathetic – your attitude will have a lot to do with how well the process goes!
Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Plenty of dogs are overweight, and just like humans, this can lead to health issues. People tend to overfeed their dogs, and many also feed them table scraps. A dog doesn’t need as many calories as most people think; talk to your vet about how much you should feed him each day, and what food is most suitable. A vet will advise you based on his size, age and lifestyle. Table scraps are a bad idea for a number of reasons, but the most important one is that they’ll learn bad manners very quickly.
If your dog seems to have a lot of stomach issues, consider a grain-free diet. Dogs can have or develop allergies, and they can be allergic to wheat or corn just like people can. Dogs’ digestive systems aren’t designed to use grain, anyway!
Keep your dog’s teeth in tip top condition. Just like humans, a dog can suffer from toothache, gum disease and even tooth loss. Regular brushing will ensure that that his teeth and gums stay healthy and strong. Without regular brushing, it is estimated that dental disease will affect up to 80% of dogs by the age of three. Dental cleaning by a vet should be an annual or bi-annual event.
If you’re thinking about getting a dog, but aren’t sure you want to make the commitment, try serving as a foster home. Shelters for abused or homeless dogs are often looking for temporary homes, called foster homes, where dogs can live until they are adopted out to a permanent home. You can give one a home for a while to help the cause and you can also keep it if you suit each other!
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog. You should congratulate your dog when it displays a good behavior, for instance by giving it a treat or petting it. Talk to your dog in a soft voice and make sure you praise it every time the good behavior is displayed.
Some dog breeds are more likely to suffer from health problems and so you should know what to look out for in your dog. If you have a specific breed of dog in mind, take the time to read up on your chosen breed before you decide so you don’t get any surprises down the road. You should inquire with your vet about how you can take care of your dog the right way.
Having a dog of your own won’t be all fun and games, but it can be very rewarding for both of you. You have to take time to really think about what you want, and to act accordingly. You can use the tips here to help you figure out what you really want. The more you think about it first, the happier you and your dog will be, together!
As always, questions, comments, criticisms or corrections are welcome at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com
With Grace and Gratitude
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