They are our best friends. They are always there when we need them. They give all their love and loyalty, play around and bring joy to their owners’ lives. Yet, as tempting as it may sound, befriending a dog for a personal companion is not for everyone and it should be done only after careful consideration, both for yours and the dog’s sake. Here are five important points that every dog owner-to-be should review and understand before heading to the nearest pet store, shelter or professional breeder and finding their future best friend.
1. Buying a pet is a big responsibility
Sounds like a no-brainer, but the truth is that there are a lot of people who buy pets and end up giving them back, because they haven’t thought about all the care they have to give to their new friends. Pets can be fun and lovable, but along with that comes the responsibility for taking good care of them – vaccines, good nutrition, walks, baths and insect-preventing treatments are important for the good health not only of your pet, but also yourself.
You should definitely consult a veterinarian to make sure that all necessary vaccines are administered on time, every time. Then, make sure to visit the vet regularly for checkups and to make sure that your pet is and stays healthy.
Nutrition is another important factor to consider for the healthy life of your dog. It is generally known that dogs have different dietary needs during the different stages of their lives. They should receive an appropriate, corresponding to their breed, weight and lifestyle, amount of nutrients to preserve their healthy growth. When young and small, puppies need more nutrients and vitamins to ensure a stable growth.
Also, the puppies of bigger breeds need more calcium to prevent Developmental Orthopedic Disease (DOD) when they grow up. Experts advise that larger breeds should eat low-calorie food, because they have a higher tendency to struggle with obesity issues during the mature years of their lives. Smaller breeds are more energetic and require a higher concentration of nutrients.
You should make sure to provide the right amount of water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for the specific needs of your pet. Of course, you should play it safe and consult a vet or a pet nutritionist for advise.
Walks and good exercise is something that every dog owner should provide their pet. Make sure to take your time and let your dog have a good amount of healthy exercise and walks to ensure their happy existence. And when going out, especially during summer time, make sure to have given a proper tick and flea preventing treatment to your dog as insects could carry severe and even deadly diseases that could be harmful to both of you.
2. Choosing the right breed is important
It is important to know which breed would be the perfect addition to your lifestyle. Choosing the right breed would make both you and your dog’s life easier and happier. To make the best decision, you should consider the environment you live in. Generally, big breeds are recommended for house owners where the dog could run freely in the backyard. Smaller, more decorative breeds are preferred by people living in apartments and small condos. If there are kids in the household, you should also discuss your intentions with them and consider their preferences. Make sure you talk to the children and understand what they want and need before buying a pet. Some breeds are more energetic than others, which could easily scare a child. Before making a final decision, you have to make sure that the relationship is going to work. Consider the furniture as well. It is recommendable to designate an appropriate space for your new companion for the first few weeks. This will protect your furniture that could be broken or ruined by the untrained young puppy until it gets used to the new atmosphere.
Training is essential in order to enjoy a safe, clear and stress-free relationship with your dog. It should begin as early as possible by developing some basic habits in the dog such as where to go to the bathroom and how to calm down and show respect to the owner. There are many training camps in our area where your could receive advice or you could have your dog trained by a professional.
Once it learns how to act and be docile, understanding and respectful, you both could live in perfect harmony, enjoying each other’s affection. If you want to educate your dog, there are a number of books and web sites that can give you tips or steer you to a professional dog trainer. One of the most popular professionals in this field is non other than Cesar Millan from the hit TV show “The Dog Whisperer” (on the National Geographic Channel). His web site (“The Dog Whisperer,” www.cesarmillaninc.com) offers great tips on how to work on your relationship with your pet.
4. Vacation time – for you or for them
Before getting a dog, you should remember that there would be times when you could be away from your four-legged friend. If you’re planning on going on vacation, there’s always a chance that you might not be able to take your pet with you. You should consider who would take care of it during that time. Perhaps you could give your dog to a trusted family member or a friend. Another option is finding a specialized pet hotel or even a camp where your dog could have some quality vacation time on its own. Either way, it is always good to have a plan for those occasions when you can’t be together.
5. Social life and breeding
Good, well-rounded social life is a must for most breeds. Going for walks, your dog could meet other dogs and play with them, but it is important to know and be prepared how to act in such situations. It is generally known that not all breeds would like each other when they meet (although some experts disagree on this). Preventing a fight could be as dangerous to the dogs, as it could be to their owners. You should learn which breeds would easily make friends with your dog and try to avoid contact with the ones that possibly won’t get along with your best friend so well. Experts also recommend that a dog should breed at least once in its lifetime. Sounds easier than it is. This mission is time consuming and requires an additional research on its own. Also, you should discuss all the details of the affair with the other dog’s owner so you’re both clear on how to handle the process and what to do with the puppies later. It is also important to remember that breeding could sometimes be a difficult process and might require the presence of a veterinarian or another specialist to monitor the act.
After diligently researching and considering all your options, it’s always a good idea to talk to a veterinarian, a professional trainer, friends that already have a dog or, better yet, all of the above, to make sure that you are making the right decision for both your future best friend and for yourself. By giving all the appropriate care and love, you can be sure that you would receive the same back from your chosen companion.