The First-Time Owner’s Guide To Raising A Healthy And Happy Dog
Congratulations on your new dog! The next step is to learn and practice to become a responsible pet owner. As their pet parent, you’re responsible for raising your dog to be healthy and happy. To do that, you must provide them with all their needs—food, shelter, training, exercise, play, and your love and attention.
Dogs don’t require much as opposed to other more finicky pets, like hedgehogs or chameleons, (or you know, human babies), but they can be a handful, especially as puppies. If you’re a first-time owner, you need to know what you’re getting into to make sure that you raise your dog right.
Bringing a New Dog Home
Dogs are people too. As such, they’re also prone to feeling scared and anxious when they’re faced with something unfamiliar. How you take your new dog home can either be a positive experience or a traumatizing event that will scar them for life. Thus, the first step to raising a healthy and happy dog is to make them feel welcomed in their new home.
This doesn’t mean that you should invite all your friends and their pets to throw a welcome party for your new pooch. Avoid having huge and noisy gatherings at home while your dog gets acclimated to the place. At this time, what they need most are peace and quiet to feel safe and comfortable in their new home.
Prepare everyone in the family for the new dog. Getting a pet, especially a dog, should be a decision made by the whole family. Dogs may not need much, but they take a lot of work to raise, especially when they’re still growing up.
Everyone must be in favor of having a dog and be informed about how to properly raise them; otherwise, it will be difficult to manage the training and discipline of your new puppy. It’s extremely important that everyone plays by the agreed rules on how to raise the dogs, or they’ll be constantly testing your boundaries and get into trouble.
There are other essentials every dog owner needs to prepare before taking a new dog home. These things include pet food, a bed, a kennel, food and water bowls, toys, and treats, to name a few.
Choosing the Right Pet Food, Treats, and Toys
Food, treats, and toys—these three are never missing when you have a dog. You don’t need to be as discerning when selecting other pet essentials, but care and caution are absolutely vital when choosing these three.
Food and Diet
When choosing the right pet food for your new pup, consider the nutritional requirement based on their age. Most puppies start eating solid food at three weeks old, and by seven to eight weeks, they’re done weaning and are now completely reliant on puppy food. They will continue to eat puppy food until 18 to 24 months old.
Puppies have more extensive nutritional needs than adult dogs do, and puppy food can provide these essential nutrients. There are lots of good dog food brands to choose from. Do your research, and ask other dog owners, trainers, and your veterinarian for recommendations.
Try to narrow down the list to the best five, and get your puppy to try them one by one, following the proper way to switch your puppy’s food. Dogs have their own preferences too, so there will be a lot of trial and error involved in selecting the best puppy/dog food.
Treats are nearly as important as pet food. Dogs are incredibly responsive to positive reinforcement, and treats can help in training and conditioning young pups and adult dogs.
Doggy treats should be counted as part of your dog’s diet, but they can’t be used as replacement for pet food. That said, giving too many treats may cause obesity or oversupply in certain nutrients in your dog, so keep it moderate.
Watch out for additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors in treats, and avoid treats that are not 100 percent digestible.
Play is just as important to your dog as is sleeping or eating. Dogs need mental stimulation and exercise, and they can get both during playtime.
When you talk about play, toys are almost always essential. Toys provide dogs with entertainment, comfort, and an outlet for their energy. A good dog toy must be safe for dogs to chew on and durable but not too hard.
Training, Socialization, and Exercise
Training is necessary to raise a calm and well-adjusted dog. Dogs that aren’t properly trained tend to easily feel insecure and anxious, which results in negative in their general health. Puppies should start basic obedience training as early as seven to eight weeks old. And when they reach six months, they should begin formal dog training. During the long interval, you must continually reinforce the basic command, like “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Down.”
Between three and sixteen weeks is the critical time for puppies to socialize and to be exposed to as many things as possible. Proper socialization and desensitization at an early age lessen their likelihood of being aggressive, easily spooked, and insecure. In short, both will help them become happier and healthier dogs.
Like people, dogs need to stay active to be healthy. Without exercise, dogs can become overweight, develop physical conditions, and become aggressive. Some dogs need more exercise than others, depending on their breed and energy levels. You should be advised on how much exercise your dog needs. Too much can also be detrimental to their health.
There are several factors that can affect the health of your beloved pooch, but most owners and dog professionals will agree that proper diet, training, socialization, exercise, and playtime are essential to raise a happy and healthy dog.
It’s natural to make mistakes in the process, especially if it’s your first time owning a dog. The best that you can do is to arm yourself with knowledge, treats, and toys to deal with any situation that may arise. Being a good pet parent takes time and experience. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other more experienced dog owners, dog professionals, and your vet.