The New Pet Parent Guide: How to Keep Your Dog Happy and Healthy
Nothing can match the joy that comes with having a four-legged friend. But caring for a dog can create unexpected challenges for those who are unaccustomed to the experience. That’s why we’ve created the following guide for new pet parents. Use this information to provide the very best care for your tail-wagging buddy.
How Do Dogs See the World around Them?
The first step to being a successful dog owner is knowing how your pet sees the world. Here are some insight into the canine mind:
- Dogs are pack-oriented animals – – they cannot thrive unless they’re part of a group. This is an instinct carried over from their wolf ancestors, and it means that your dog must feel welcomed and cherished in your home.
- A dog’s sense of disgust is almost nonexistent – – which is why your pooch may do terrible things like eating its own vomit, humping your leg, or rolling around in the remains of an animal carcass. The dog was never born that knew the meaning of shame.
- Dogs typically see you as one of their own, only bigger and stronger – – in their mind you’re the alpha male or female, and their job is to stay on your good side.
Now let’s apply these insights to how you care for your new friend.
Providing Love and Companionship
Besides food, water, and shelter, your dog craves your affection and approval more than anything in the world. So give it what it wants. Pet it often, greet it when you come home, and perhaps cuddle up with it at night. Figure out where it likes to be scratched and do so; most dogs prefer a gentle scratch on their belly or along their spine.
Walking your dog is essential for its mental and physical well-being, unless it has a big yard in which to romp and play. Training a dog to walk on a leash is a complex topic, one we’ll save for another post. You’ll find plenty of great resources online and from your local pet trainer. Learn more about dog insurance, cat insurance, and our policies here!
Applying Correction When Needed
Sometimes discipline is necessary to keep your pooch from wrecking your home or annoying your neighbors. Here are some tactics that are proven to work without inflicting harm:
- Say “no” or “bad” using a warning tone — this will get your dog’s attention right away.
- Take away the dog’s toys – – refuse to return them until your pet shows remorse for its misdeeds.
- Remove the source of temptation – – for example, let’s say that your dog has a bad habit of leaping up on the kitchen counter to steal your dinner. Your best course of action may be to push the food further away from the counter’s edge. Or you might want to stick it in the microwave until you’re ready to eat.
- Create a time-out zone – – take your pup to the pre-established quiet zone and order it to stay put for the time being. It will associate the location with your disapproval and amend its behavior accordingly.
- Ignore the dog altogether – – this is a short-term tactic that may cause your pup to calm down and behave. However, it can inflict emotional damage when extended over the long term, so use it rarely.
If all this sounds like the way you would treat a baby, then you understand the basic idea. Your dog is essentially a fur-covered child; it relies on you to teach it right from wrong.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy for the Long Haul
Like humans, dogs need regular medical care if they’re to enjoy long, happy lives. But visiting a vet’s office is never high on a canine’s list of favorite activities. So what can you do?
The first step is to choose your vet with care. Make sure you’re comfortable with the doctor and staff. Choose a location that’s close to your home, with a minimum amount of road traffic if possible. After all, you don’t want your new friend to our hear you shouting insults at the other motorists!
We’ve already discussed your dog’s need for regular exercise. Nutrition is just as important. Choose a well-regarded dog food brand, preferably one recommended by your vet. You may want to purchase foods that are designed for your type of dog, such as formulas for puppies or older animals.
An occasional goodie is a great way to show your dog some extra love. Calming treats for dogs are an especially good choice. They will help to keep its mood on an even keel while reinforcing its sense of trust and loyalty. Not only will this make your dog a better pet, it will make you a better pet owner.
Summing It All up
Owning a dog is a wonderful adventure, one which can provide you with some of the most fulfilling moments of your life. Use the information in this post to forge a loving and long-term relationship with your new friend. That way, you can look forward to many happy years together.