If you had a dog while you were growing up, it's fairly likely that you learned about at least some of the main responsibilities that come with taking care of a dog. It's almost inevitable that your parents would have taught you that you would need to feed, walk, and clean them often to best ensure that the dog’s health was in good shape.
It would be more difficult to grow up in this setting and not learn the basics, though even those that grew up with the dog are certainly unaware less obvious dog necessities.
This article will outline everything that dog owners need to know about raising a happy, healthy pup that includes tips from beginner information to less discussed necessities.
A Wholesome Home Above All Else
Providing a good home for your pet may seem like an obvious first step, but it is often the hardest for new pet owners to properly assess.
There are a lot of ideas that go into determining whether your home can accommodate the presence of a dog, that your lifestyle doesn’t interfere with their wellbeing, and that you are fully capable to care for a dog overall. Having a home that can cater to the needs of a dog is an important, though overlooked step of the process of dog ownership because the desire to care for a dog outweighs the reality of caring for one. Dogs need a lot of space to roam, play, and sleep and shouldn’t be brought into overly cramped spaces.
That doesn’t mean you’ll need an extravagant, expansive space, but your living space should be large enough that a dog of any size won’t add space strain. Dogs will also need appropriate outdoor access and is an important consideration for the wellbeing of any dog. It's also important to know whether your lifestyle and work schedule are fit for having a dog. If you’re working longer hours and you’re hardly home even when not working, this can lead to serious impacts to a dog’s health.
Finally, make sure that you are ready to accept taking on this new responsibility. A dog can be your absolute best friend and nurturing that relationship involves dedicating significant time to their wellbeing.
However, if you’re currently not in a place to care for a dog and yourself simultaneously, there’s no harm in taking some time for yourself instead. Waiting until you’re fully ready for such a commitment are crucial for raising a healthy dog.
Nutrition & Exercise are Essential
Between the different breeds of dogs, there are a few differences in nutritional and activity needs. For nutrition, smaller dogs and larger dogs cannot eat the same foods despite having similar ingredients.
PetBarn has more detailed information about this, but the main idea is that the kibble is smaller for smaller dogs to protect their jaws and gastrointestinal integrity, while kibble for larger dogs is less energy dense to promote proper growth of their muscles and bones.
Plus, there are different considerations to take into account as dogs age, regardless of their breed. Though the diet will be mostly the same for older dogs, it will focus on having less fats, proteins, and carbs to conserve their health.
Exercise is incredibly diverse among breeds of dog. It's well known that larger dogs, specifically Siberian huskies, German shepherds, and golden retrievers, rely on frequent exercise through walks and rigorous playtime. This should be heavily associated with how well you can care for a dog – if you won’t be incredibly active, it's best not to begin caring for a dog that needs frequent activity.
If you’re committed, there are plenty of resources that can help you care for your dog throughout the year to keep them happy and in shape. The Dog People actually provide a great examination of exercise equipment that (while more useful during winter due to freezing temperatures) can be used year-round to train your dog, maintain their health, and bond with them through playing.
They also provide a great explanation on why dogs need exercise that boils down to expending energy, having fun, and improving their overall health while staving off bad behavior.
Grooming is About More Than Just Appearances
It's always good to see a dog that looks great due to a thorough grooming. Their coat shines, it's smooth and fluffy, and even smells good. However, there’s a lot more that goes along with grooming your dog than meets the eye.
Keeping your dog well-groomed is essential for maintaining their physical health because it can help their skin breathe by removing excess/damaged hair and reducing the among of grease on their skin. There are no benefits to the oils/grease found on dogs – it is simply a by-product of their coat’s growth and generally ends up blocking their pores. When this happens, different skin problems can arise and cause great discomfort.
Additionally, brushing/washing their hair can help you become familiar with what their natural state looks like. Once you’ve got this down, you’ll be able to quickly know what is/isn’t right while examining their skin and coat, which could potentially save them from future issues with bugs (usually tics).
Dogs can be a wonderful companion in your life and you can bring just as much joy to them as they do to you. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand some of the basic dog necessities, how to maintain your dog’s health, and what some of the essential pieces are for taking care of a dog.