How to care for a dog
There are a number of factors that will influence your dog’s health and wellbeing needs, especially their breed and age. It is therefore important that everything from their nutritional requirements to exercise and grooming, are considered with their particular characteristics in mind. However, there are a number of things that all dogs need to ensure they are healthy and well adjusted members of the family.
All dogs require exercise, but the amount and type varies with their age, size and breed.
Puppies are very receptive to their environment, and negative experiences will have a lasting effect. The behavioural development of a puppy has several phases including the socialisation period, which starts from four weeks and goes up to 14 weeks.
The fear period lies within this socialisation period, so any trauma occurring during this time may have lasting, negative consequences. Therefore, it is important to pay careful attention to a puppy’s environmental experiences from day one.
As with exercise, nutritional needs change as your puppy grows. At the outset, puppies will require several small meals a day, gradually reducing to one or two. Equally, the size and breed of your dog will influence its nutritional requirements as some dogs have different digestive tolerances to others. Dogs should always have access to water, and it’s important not to overfeed them.
If you're unsure about how much they should be fed, or how their growth stages will impact this, ask your vet for advice. They will be able to provide guidance for optimal growth and help to avoid obesity and strain on developing joints.
Ultimately, food has to supply energy, but it also has to build and maintain the body’s cells, helping to prevent digestive, skin, dental, joint and age-related problems. A nutritious food, meeting the demands of health nutrition, will combine just the right amounts of nutrients.
Grooming and health
Regular grooming is a good habit to get into. It will help support the health of your puppy’s skin and coat, as well as improving the bond between you. It will also ensure that you are more likely to detect any abnormalities such as external parasites, skin disorders or areas of discomfort at an early stage. Most dogs are happy to be groomed if they become used to it at an early age, but it is never too late to start!
Good behaviour and obedience need to start early. Your training programme must start as early as possible, at an age when your puppy naturally has an excellent capacity for learning.
For your comfort, and other people’s, your dog must understand some basic rules of life. Don’t hesitate to call in professional help with your dog training. There are many dog clubs or puppy schools which can help you with your mission.
There can be a lot of information to take on board when you first get a puppy, including all of the initial things it needs to ensure its physical and emotional health, but starting in the right way will make everything easier for you and your dog moving forward, and if you are ever in doubt your vet should be able to offer advice and support.