Care of the pet dog

 

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Selecting a dog

There are numerous breeds of dogs, big and small, long and short hair and so on and selecting one of them is a matter of preferences.. However the most common pet dog is the mixed breed and they make great companions. After all it is the personality that makes a dog... Quite often your best bet is on the dog who selects you. Get history of parents or previous home. Examine the dog for overall appearance and disposition. Make sure he is alert, friendly and free of obvious problems such as limping, skin lesions, discharge from eyes or nose and bad odor. Whichever dog you select, make sure you can provide it's needs ( space, exercise, feeding etc.). 

Selecting an older dog

In some cases an older housebroken dog might not be a bad choice. If the dog has history of a good home and problem free personality, he will make an excellent pet. Very likely you will save some trouble of training and cleanups. 

Selecting a puppy

Raising a  puppy is a joyful and fascinating experience, but it is a lot of work (damage repair and control, cleanup, training and veterinary care). You have to be ready for this.

The purebred dog

With a purebred dog you make a choice of the breed you like (Size, disposition, inclination, coat, qualities and problems). Often you will be able to know the parents and the family history and most breeders will offer some guarantees. Some lines will have a certain strength (i.e. size, color, disposition) and some specialize in show qualities. 

A new dog at home

It is a good idea to read literature if this is your first dog. The more you know, the easier it gets. Designate contained areas in the house and yard, designated puppy area helps to supervise the puppy and reduces damage and soiling allover the house. Make your home puppy and dog safe. Remember that puppies are like toddlers, they taste everything. Have poisons, plants, small object and garbage out of reach. Get food dishes (stainless steel, glass or ceramic), chew toys (Nylabones, Knuckle bones), leashes and collars. Set an appointment with the veterinarian to have your dog checked within 72 hours. Its a good idea to check a stool sample for parasites as well. Enroll the dog/puppy to class in your area.

The first few days are not going to be easy. Dogs take time to adapt to the new place. Puppies will cry at night and sometimes develop diarrhea. It is a good idea to keep the dog on the same food he is used to. Take time to be with your new dog to secure him  and develop your bond, allow family time for socializing. Be patient and establish norms gradually (feeding, training, walks, play time etc,).

Life with the pet dog

Feeding

Puppies should be fed three to four times a day until about six months of age. Then they can have two meals a day. Puppy formulated food should be used until about one year of age. Always use a well known brand of food. Most known brands are nutritionally adequate. Some companies have different formulation for breed sizes which may offer better nutrition. Toy breeds should be fed at least four to five times a day in the first four months of age and should be kept warm as they tend to run out of energy fast. Adult dogs should be fed once or twice a day and should not be fed at night. Fresh water should be available at all times. 

Treats are to be given with moderation. Avoid rawhides and toys that can be torn to produce large pieces with sharp edges. Avoid small size balls or objects that fit in the dog's. Avoid table food.

Activities

Walks- Plan on at least two walks a day, preferably after feeding. Many dogs love outdoor activity and if you have a fenced yard, your dog would love it. Recreational activities, playing, swimming, hiking and hunting are also appreciated.

Training- Dog school, obedience and agility classes will help you train your dog and are highly recommended. If you can't enroll to classes, you will have to work on training by yourself. Get books about training and learn the basics.  Basic training is essential to any dog and without it dog ownership becomes a nightmare.

House breaking- We do not recommend paper training unless for toy breeds. Also avoid training for paper and  for out doors at the same time. Choose an outside elimination area. Start taking the puppy to eliminate in the area at wakeup time, after feeding, after activity, after naps and before bed time. Praise the puppy upon elimination and you can also give him a treat. If the puppy has accidents and you catch him in the act, say no, pick him up and take him out. If you discover the accident after the fact, place him outside and clean it up. The puppy can not associate the elimination and your reaction unless they happen at the same time. Be patient and continue with positive reinforcement.

Grooming- Your dog will need grooming at regular intervals. Long coats require more grooming. Many dogs require daily brushing. The more you brush, the less hair you will have around the house. Do not bathe too often, the skin and coat have protective oils which are eliminated with the bath. Too frequent bathing may cause skin problems. Start nail trimming early and let the dog get used to the procedure. Dogs often have low tolerance to foot manipulation and if they are not used to nail trimming, it may become a very difficult task.

 

Veterinary care

The veterinarian is the primary source of expertise regarding your pet dog. You should get all of your pet care questions answered by your veterinarian. Make it a rule of thumb to follow the instructions and the advice you are given and to ask everything you need to know.

At your first puppy visit, your veterinarian will get the medical and vaccination history, check your puppy, discuss the pet dog care and maybe vaccinate and worm the puppy. You will then get a follow-up visit and vaccination plan tailored to your puppy's special needs. 

Your doctor will discuss  with you reproduction health issues and if appropriate spay or neuter surgeries.

Remember that after the puppy's initial care, he will need a yearly visit, vaccination and a fecal exam. In most states dogs receive preventative heartworm medication and are tested for the disease one a year. The yearly visit is the best way to keep pets healthy and to ensure early detection of problems, before they become serious. Your veterinarian is your partner in the mission of caring for your dog. Good and consistent communication is the corner stone of excellent pet care and you should discuss all your pet care issues with your veterinarian at any time. 

Emergencies

Emergencies happen and you must be prepared for them. Keep a watchful eye on problems such as:

Normal values of dogs are:

 temperature 101-102
 heart rate 70-160
 respirations 10-30

Your veterinarian will offer you emergency care either directly or through referral to a near by specialized emergency clinic.

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