Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Your puppy's first year and a half in your home will shape the dog he will be as an adult, both in temperament and physical health. Ideally, your new puppy will come to you at the age of eight weeks or older. He should have already received a series of vaccinations for parvovirus, parainfluenza, and distemper, and an initial deworming if necessary. He should be well weaned onto dry puppy food (or whatever his regular diet is going to be), and not fearful or nervous.
Start a file for your dog's information, such as his health records, place of origin, and physical description. You will find that it will come in handy throughout your dog's life.
Puppies grow incredibly fast during their first year and a half, so it's no surprise that they use up their bodies' resources quicker than an adult dog would. A growing puppy needs a dog food that has a protein content of at least 28%, and a fat content of 10% or greater (but not more than 18%).
Selecting a Puppy Food:
I'll bet you thought this part would be easy! What your puppy needs from a dog food will vary according to his size as an adult, and as he grows, his overall activity level as a breed.
* What kind of food should I feed my dog?
* Reading Dog Food Labels
* The Dog Food Database of Ingredients and Analysis
If later on, you feel the need to change your dog's usual food, you will need to make the switch to a different food gradually in order to avoid any gastroinestinal unpleasantness.
Giving your puppy a healthy start in life will enable him to grow to his full potential. This includes not only regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations, but also making sure his environment is appropriate for a puppy with no self-control, and danger-free. By selecting a veterinarian that you feel comfortable with, you can help ensure that your dog's medical needs will be met.
Typical Puppy Misbehavior:
Puppies are curious, rambunctious, and full of mischief. What they are not, however, is spiteful. If your puppy seems to be doing things in a vengeful manner (chewing your books and shoes, or urinating in the same spot every single day), there is almost always a solid explanation for it.
A healthy, balanced diet is fundamental. Research food companies that pledge to use high-quality ingredients instead of fillers. Then, choose a quality diet that your pet enjoys. Spending lots of money on a holistic, top-of-the-line diet is useless if Fido won’t eat it. Many companies provide samples you can try without buying a whole bag. Others offer a money-back guarantee if your dog does not like the food. If you choose to provide a homemade diet, discuss the ingredients with your veterinarian first to be sure they are right for your dog. Then, make small batches until you are sure your dog actually likes it.
Once you have found an appetizing diet, watch how your dog responds over the first several weeks. A drop in energy level or a dull hair coat may warrant a diet change. If you do change your pet’s food, always do so gradually to avoid gastrointestinal upset or food aversion. Consult your veterinarian for nutritional advice, especially if you notice any changes in your pet’s health. Always be sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
Home – More Than Just a Shelter
Dogs are pack animals – they are not content when excluded from the family unit. Though some circumstances may require dogs to live outside, most dogs will thrive in a primarily indoor environment. Your dog should have an area of the house dedicated as his own space, such as a kennel, crate or bed. This teaches your dog to have respect for his own space and, in turn, yours. Set down ground rules, enforce off-limit areas of the house, and welcome your dog into permissible areas.
If your dog spends time outdoors, provide access to a doggie door or a temperature-controlled doghouse. Never leave your dog unattended outside without shelter, especially during very hot or cold weather, as this can result in severe health consequences.
Keep your dog healthy with regular exercise and preventive veterinary care. Establish an exercise routine, even if it is just a stroll around the block each morning. Depending on your dog’s breed, more exercise may be necessary, but don’t overdo it. Visit your veterinarian at least once or twice a year for a wellness check-up. Potential problems are often identified before your dog actually shows signs of illness.
Every dog needs basic grooming, such as bathing and nail trimming. Some dogs even need regular haircuts. Find a reputable groomer, or learn to groom your dog at home. Then, establish a grooming regimen and stick with it.
Nurturing Your Dog
Dogs thrive on structure and discipline, and training is paramount to your dog’s quality of life. Choose a training program and follow through. You may prefer to join a training class with a professional instructor. Alternatively, you may wish to learn about dog training on your own. Either way, establish yourself as the boss, reinforce good behavior, and humanely correct misbehavior. Be consistent and you will see positive results.
Maintaining the human-canine bond is vital. Set aside time for you and your dog. Petting your dog, playing with toys, talking to him, or taking him for rides in the car are some ways to strengthen and preserve this bond.
Following the guidelines for your dog’s basic needs sets the foundation for a long, happy life with your dog. Dog ownership should not be a chore, but an experience that enriches your life and that of your dog. If you can keep that tail wagging, you will be happier, too.