It’s true that a dog is a man’s best friend but caring for a dog is often not as easy as getting along with your human best friend. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with dog ownership, such as putting a stop to poor dog behavior, buying dog insurance in case something happens, and finding the best food and toys for your new pet. If you’ve never owned one before, there are probably a few things about dogs that you should know.
Training should start from day one
The minute you bring your new pet home, you’ll need to start training them to have good dog behavior. You don’t want to reinforce bad habits by letting them continue, whether they’re a puppy or a 10-year-old rescue from the shelter.
In particular, you’ll want to train your pooch to use a crate. It’s extremely helpful for house training, since dogs don’t want to go to the bathroom in their home. It’s also great for solving certain behavior problems and gives your dog a place to chill when there’s a lot going on around them. If they’re crate trained, they’ll also travel better.
You might want pet insurance
You wouldn’t risk living without health insurance, and you shouldn’t risk it with your pet either. Pet insurance covers your dog’s regular checkups, therapies, surgeries, and treatments according to your policy. Carefully compare pet insurance policies to find the best one for your furry little friend.
The ingredients in their dog food matter
Dogs, like humans, should have a healthy diet. However, this can be confusing to new pet owners who weren’t taught in school what dogs should eat to be healthy. According to a pet food survey, more than half of dog owners say that they’re more confused by their pet’s nutritional needs than they are by their own.
Carefully read the labels of your preferred dog food. Avoid diets that contain grains, potatoes, and byproducts. Too many carbohydrates can also lead to obesity and diabetes in dogs. Aim for a dog food brand that uses fresh ingredients that you can pronounce.
There are certain foods you shouldn’t feed them
Along with getting the right dog food, avoid feeding them the wrong foods. Table scraps, for example, don’t contain the right nutritional value and can cause gas and digestive issues. No one wants that for their indoor pet!
Additionally, many new dog owners don’t know that their dogs cannot have chocolate. It can make them very sick, and in rare cases, it can be lethal.
“Chocolate’s danger to dogs depends on its quantity and quality,” Tim Hackett, a veterinarian at Colorado State University, told Scientific American. “Large dogs can usually handle a small amount of chocolate whereas the same helping could cause problems for smaller dogs.”
If your dog eats chocolate, take him to the vet who may induce vomiting or prescribe medication.
Your pet won’t grow out of bad behavior
One of the biggest mistakes new dog owners make is believing that puppies will grow out of their bad behavior.
“Generally speaking, dogs do not grow out of bad behavior,” she says. “In fact, left to their own devices they will get worse. Remember, these behaviors are only considered bad by us – your dog is self-rewarded by digging up the flowers, chasing the cat, and barking at the mailman. He’s not going to stop unless you give him a reason to through reinforcement.”
Dogs are social creatures too
Dogs are like humans when it comes to socialization. They’re just fine on their own, but sometimes they need companionship. If you’re home often and can give lots of love, affection, and attention, you should be just fine. If not, consider adopting another dog.
You can also frequently visit the dog park where they can play with other dogs. This will connect you with other dog owners as well while teaching your dog to play nicely with others.
Be careful with dog toys
There are a lot of dog toys on the market, but not all are good for your dog. In fact, many toys can be harmful to heavy chewers.
Chew toys if torn apart and swallowed can be a major cause of obstruction of the stomach or intestines in dogs. This can make a dog sick and occasionally requires surgical intervention. To avoid any mishaps, playtime — indoors and outdoors — should always be supervised.
Getting enough exercise is as important for your pup as it is for you
Dogs and humans need roughly the same amount of exercise every day: 30 minutes minimum. Dogs should also be allowed to roam around, using their legs and exploring for a couple of hours per day. Activities that stretch their mind as well as their body are highly recommended.
If you’ve been meaning to improve your exercise regime, let your furry little friend help. It’s a great way to reinforce good habits and help your dog thrive.
Not all dogs travel well
As a general rule, most dogs really love driving in a car. However, some will actually get motion sick. Not only does this make your pooch uncomfortable during the ride, but it could cause them to vomit on your upholstery, leading to a miserable trip for both of you.
To avoid nausea, feed your dog at least two hours before getting in the car. If your dog still exhibits motion sickness symptoms, your vet may prescribe some medication to make travelling easier.
Additionally, flying can be hard on some dogs. Airlines have created so many restrictions and guidelines for flying with pets that it can make your dog very anxious. Consider leaving your dog with a friend when you’re taking a long trip or speaking to your vet about how you can make them more comfortable on the trip.
Related: 10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy
Dogs get scared and anxious too
Human and canine emotions are surprisingly similar, even though they tend to exhibit them in very different ways. When you’re scared or anxious, you might quietly observe a situation, schooling your features so that the people around you don’t know what’s going on inside. Dogs don’t show such restraint.
In many cases, a scared or anxious dog will whine and bark. They might also exhibit stubborn behavior like refusing to go for a walk. Unfortunately, if you force your dog to do something they don’t want to do on a regular basis, it can result in aggressive behaviors like biting or scratching that are hard to cure and can cause problematic situations.
Learning how to manage your dog in these situations can help you avoid serious problems in the future while ensuring that they’re happy and comfortable at all times.