38 percent of Americans have at least one dog as part of their family. As a pet owner, there is much you can do to enhance their happiness, health, and wellbeing.
This includes meeting your dog’s basic needs and improving their lifestyle. There are certain responsibilities and techniques that every dog owner should follow.
Here are nine key tips for how to care for a dog to keep it healthy and happy.
1. Ensure a Balanced Diet
Feeding your pet a proper diet is one of the most important aspects of dog care. You should establish a consistent feeding schedule based on the age of your dog. Puppies eat more frequently, while adult dogs have two meals a day.
It’s best to choose a dog food with whole and healthy ingredients, from a quality brand. Look for food high in protein with other essential vitamins and minerals included.
Always check for brand recalls on dog treats and food. According to the FDA, there are now health cautions over giving your dog grain-free food. So be sure to do your research on the best products for your dog’s lifestyle.
You should also avoid foods that can be harmful to pets. This includes chocolate, grapes, or other unhealthy table scraps. Be sure your dog always has plenty of fresh water available.
2. Create an Exercise Routine
Consistent exercise is another important part of how to take care of a dog. Physical activity is good for their health and lowers the risk of heart disease and obesity. Owning a dog also helps to strengthen your heart health and prolong your life.
Take your dog for daily walks around the neighborhood to get their energy out. Some breeds are more high-energy than others and will need more stimulation. You can always hire a dog walker if you have a busy work schedule.
Another idea is to visit a local park where your dog can run free. Play fetch or frisbee with them. This also offers good socialization with other dogs, especially if you only own one pet.
3. Provide Basic Training
Other key dog caring tips include training your dog at a young age. This makes your dog more obedient and well-behaved. Start by teaching them basic commands, like sit and stay.
Younger dogs should also get properly house-trained. They should learn to use the bathroom outside. Teach your dog not to chew on furniture or baby toys.
Professional training classes can help more stubborn dogs. You can try using treats to help teach them as well.
4. Maintain Their Health
Annual vet checkups are a must when owning a dog. These visits ensure your pup is in good health and they are up to date on vaccines.
Your dog should be on preventative medications for heartworm, fleas, and ticks as well. Any dog care guide will also recommend de-worming treatments for puppies.
You may need more frequent vet visits for older dogs. Seniors are more likely to get heart and kidney disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Identifying certain conditions early on could help to prevent arthritis.
Always bring your pet to see the vet if you notice any sudden changes to their condition. This includes changes in their eating habits or weight.
5. Be Consistent with Grooming Habits
Proper grooming habits are an essential part of how to care for a dog. Most dog breeds should get groomed about once a month.
Grooming helps to remove matted fur and reduce shedding. Dogs should get bathed and have their nails trimmed.
Cleaning their ears and brushing their teeth are other healthy grooming habits. Check their paws for signs of dryness or cracking as well. This tends to happen more in the winter months.
6. Practice Proper Pet Safety
After getting your dog, you’ll want to get them registered and licensed with the city you live in. Having your dog wear an identification tag is another key safety tip.
Some owners prefer to microchip their dogs in case they ever run away. You should spay or neuter your dog at the right age if you’re not planning to breed your pet.
It’s also important not to give your dog toys that they can break apart and choke on. Offer them a safe place to run around outside. This includes fencing your yard, installing an electric fence, or using a tie-off.
7. Enhance Their Comfort Level
Dogs need a comfortable living environment. Give them a dog bed, blanket, and plenty of safe toys to play with.
Always leave the house at a comfortable temperature when you’re away from home. Avoid leaving your dog outside when the temperature is too cold or hot. Provide a well-sized crate for younger dogs who cannot have free reign of the house.
Dogs will sometimes get anxiety during a big life transition. This includes moving, having a baby, or getting a new puppy. Be sure to give your dog extra attention during this time to help guide them through the change.
You also want to ensure proper care for your dog when traveling for business or leisure. Choose a trusted and reputable doggy daycare with a boarding facility. You can also have a friend or family member house sit to watch your dog.
8. Bring Your Dog out and About
Dogs should get plenty of socialization and experience new adventures. Most dogs love going for car rides, with the window rolled down at a safe distance. So, take them to a pet-friendly store, like Petco, TJ Maxx, or Home Depot.
Another idea for taking care of a dog is to bring them along for outdoor activities. Take them with you to go hiking or swimming. Many restaurants with outdoor seating allow pet owners to bring their dogs.
9. Show Them Affection
One of the easiest ways to care for your dog is to nurture and bond with them. Show them plenty of love and reward them when they are good.
Dogs love getting pets, belly rubs, and massages. Ensure you play with your pet enough to keep them well-entertained.
Pay attention to your dog’s behaviors as well. Look for any signs that they may be acting out. A destructive dog could be a signal that something may be wrong.
How to Care for a Dog to Ensure Their Health and Happiness
These tips will help you learn how to care for a dog the right way. Being a dog owner is about more than only meeting their basic needs. Pets need plenty of love, attention, obedience, and exercise.
Looking for more ways to enhance your dog’s livelihood? Check out My Pet Needs That and our pet section of our blog for more advice.