10 Simple Ways to Have a Happy, Healthy Dog
I. Choose the Right Breed
Dogs are like people. They all have different personalities. Some are laid back and quiet and easy to spend time with. Others are studies in perpetual motion! There are a lot of things that come together to make the difference in behavior from one dog to another. Two important factors are heritage and training.
The only thing you can do about heritage is pick a dog breed that is suitable to your personality, lifestyle and needs. Before you get a dog, you should take some time online and with books figuring out what kind of dog will really suit you and your family best. Visit your local shelter often to get an idea of what types of dogs appeal to you and suit you best.
Working Dogs Like to be Useful!
II. Only Choose a Working Dog if You Have a Job for It!
Lots of people make the mistake of getting a dog because they saw one like it in a movie or on TV. Don’t do this! Remember that dogs in show business are high-energy and smart. They have to be to learn to do all the things they do and to actually go to a job every day. You do not want a dog that needs a job as a house pet.
This goes for heelers, terriers and pointers, too. These 3 breeds are high energy and specifically bred to herd sheep, kill rats and mice, and hunt birds (respectively).
If you don’t have a job for this type of dog, don‘t get this type of dog!
No one will be happy!
III. Choose a Reasonably Healthy, Well-Adjusted Dog
Once you have decided on a type of dog, be sure to look for a healthy dog, and be sure to look for it at your local shelter or rescue. Don’t support the puppy mill industry by purchasing a dog from a store or even from a breeder. Pet overpopulation is a big problem and thousands upon thousands of nice dogs and cats are put to death every year for want of a home.
Avoid a getting dog with obvious injuries or lameness unless you know how to care for the condition and are willing and able to do so. Look for bright eyes, reasonably clean ears, and a moist, cool nose. Be sure the coat and skin are in reasonably good shape.
Look for a steady energy level. You want a dog that is alert and attentive without being excessively energetic. When choosing a dog at a shelter, it may be difficult to distinguish hyperactivity from sheer excitement at having some attention.Take your time. Spend time with the dogs you are interested in. Give them time to calm down a bit before you make your choice.
Healthy Chewing Means Clean Teeth!
IV. You Are What You Eat Applies to Dogs, Too!
If you feed your dog correctly, you will not have high vet bills. Don’t feed some cheapie knock-off brand. Feed your dog the right amount of an established brand of dry dog food. This doesn’t have to be an expensive designer brand. A tried and true brand like Purina Dog Chow, fed consistently is a good choice.
Canned dog food is optional and should only be given in small amounts, if at all, because it can cause tooth decay. Occasional dry treats such as Milk Bones and dental chews will help keep your dog entertained and cut down on plaque on his teeth.
Even very nice dog houses should be set under shelter and shade!
V. House Your Dog Properly
We have dogs primarily because they are constant and loyal friends and companions. If you plan to chain your dog up in the back yard with a wooden or plastic house and a bucket of water and take some food out there once a day, don’t get a dog.
Even if you have your dog for security reasons, he will be better at defending you and your loved ones if he is happy, healthy, and devoted to you. If you don’t plan on treating your dog as a friend and companion, don’t get one.
To be comfortable, your dog needs good food, clean water, a comfortable bed and solid shelter from the elements. If you do not plan on letting your dog in your house (you should think twice about getting a dog) at least provide a solid outbuilding, enclosed porch, or garage to give good shelter from rain, wind, sleet, snow and the sun.
Use Sturdy Tip-Proof Dishes
A Good Dog Bed Doesn't Have to be Elaborate!
IV. Invest in the Right Equipment
Be sure your dog has good, heavy dishes that cannot be tipped over. This is especially true of water. Plenty of fresh, clean water should always be available to your dog. The only exception would be during crating, and then only for relatively short periods of time.
Provide a comfortable bed that is big enough for your dog. He should be able to lie down comfortably with no body part hanging over the edges. When you give your dog a comfortable, warm place to sleep, you extend his life and protect him from problems such as arthritis.
Invest in Sturdy Toys for Big Dogs!
and Soft Toys for Little Dogs!
VII. Keep Your Dog Active & Occupied!
Give your dog good toys to play with. Do not give him shoes or other household items because this will teach him to chew shoes and household items. Invest in strong, high-quality dog toys such as Kongs and Nylabones for big, tough dogs. These toys will withstand the most enthusiastic chewers.
Little dogs may like stuffed toys or other soft toys and may not tear them up. Try a few different things with your little dog to find out exactly what suits him best.
Remember to get interactive toys like balls and Frisbees, too. Don’t get tug-of-war toys. Playing tug-of-war with your dog encourages dominance issues. Your dog needs to simply accept that you are in charge!
Invest in Good Grooming Tools
VIII. Cleanliness is Next to Dogly-ness
Since your dog will be your friend and companion, you will want him to be nice and clean! The amount you bathe your dog will vary depending upon the dog. Some little dogs that get a lot of handling, sit on laps, sleep in bed with their person and so on, need to be bathed once a week and brushed every day.
Some big, smooth coated dogs are fine to be wiped down with a damp wash cloth once a week and never brushed. On the other hand, some short haired, oily dogs (such as Bassett Hounds) need a thorough bath at least once a month to keep down odors.
Most dogs can be bathed effectively with baby shampoo and (if needed) rinsed with a detangler intended for babies. Some dogs that tend to have skin problems (such as Bassett Hounds or Cocker Spaniels) may need special, medicated shampoos and conditioners.
Of course, if fleas and ticks are a problem, you will want to use a shampoo that will address this. Consult your vet to find out what the best shampoo for your dog would be.
Obedience Training is the Best Investment!
IX. Dogs are Social Animals
If you don’t take your dog out for regular exercise, you are missing a great opportunity. Having a best friend who likes to be active is a good way to stay active yourself. Be sure to take your dog out for a walk or run on-leash at least once a day.
If you have trouble controlling your dog on-leash, get yourself and your dog into an obedience class. You will enjoy your dog more, and he will enjoy his life more, if he is socialized and well-behaved.
Your Shelter Dog Will Already Be Spayed or Neutered!
X. Have Your Dog Spayed or Neutered!
There is no reason to keep an intact dog. There are far too many unwanted pets in the world today. This is a situation that must be gotten under control, and if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Your dog will be happier and a more satisfying pet if he or she is neutered or spayed. He or she will be less likely to wander and fight and will be easier to house train. You will extend your dog’s life and eliminate the risk of health problems related to reproduction.