Life as a dog owner is tough work. Yes, there will be endless cuddles, kisses and games to be played, but the fun can only happen if you look after your dog properly. There are many cases where people will choose to get a dog for the novelty of it without thinking through the responsibility of raising a pooch.
There are several actions that need to be taken before you welcome home a new canine friend. If you can commit to the five following steps, then you should be on-track to provide a dog with a loving home and a happy life.
Choose a breed of dog that suits your lifestyle
A part of making sure that your family is ready to have a dog is to choose a breed of dog that is suited to your lifestyle. There are many different dog breeds, so you need to consider what your current lifestyle is like. What kinds of changes are you willing to make? What changes can you simply not budge on?
Also, consider any special considerations of your family members and your home. Does anyone have any allergies? Do you have a yard for a dog to spend time in or will you take them to the park to stretch their legs? Can you dedicate time to house-train a puppy, or would an older, low-energy dog be a better fit?
Different sized dogs will suit different homes as well. If you have a large yard and enjoy going for walks, a larger dog will be perfectly suited to your home and lifestyle. However, if you live in a small apartment with no yard, a smaller or low-energy dog may be your best option.
Make your home dog-friendly
Many people think about getting a dog and rarely consider changing anything in the home. But, as well as making your home more comfortable for your new furry friend, a well-designed home can also make it safer for them.
Take a look around your home and look for any potential dangers or hazards. If you’re getting a puppy, your curious friend may look at any electrical cables and wires around the home and think they’re fun to chew on. Even medications and cleaning products can be fatal to your dog if they find them.
You may also want to consider adding pet-friendly features to your home. Built-in feeding bowls that blend into your kitchen, secret entrances just for your pet and beds that are hidden in plain sight will all help to create a special haven for your dog.
Remember, no matter what age your dog is and how much they’re trained, muddy paws and the occasional accident might happen. So, be prepared for any messes and choose dog-friendly furnishings that are durable yet easy on your budget.
Get pet insurance
We never want to think the worst will happen to our pets, but the fact is, accidents and illness can happen. Pet insurance is one way to have that extra peace of mind when owning a dog. This insurance covers essential medical costs in an emergency.
Depending on the type of cover you choose, your pet insurance can help cover the costs of regular healthcare such as teeth cleaning and worming, as well as major treatments when your pet is ill. Certain breeds of dog will also be susceptible to certain health problems, such as arthritis or hip dysplasia. Check on your breed of dog and research any potential health risks they may inherit.
From paralysis ticks to car accidents and serious illness, pet insurance means you can have the confidence to give your pet the best care they need.
Training your dog or puppy
Often considered but rarely implemented, obedience training should be on the top of your priority list for your new dog. Training will help your dog to be better behaved and will nurture a healthy human-animal relationship. Although some people see a dog as a friend, a part of being a responsible dog owner is making sure your dog is obedient and well-trained.
Training can either be completed by a specialist dog trainer in your local area, or you can train your dog yourself. A dog trainer, however, will have a lot of experience and the know-how to best train your dog in the shortest amount of time.
If you train your dog yourself, allow approximately 15-20 minutes of training time per day for formal training sessions. Each time you interact with your dog, they will be learning from you, so be sure to not let your dog get away with bad behaviour outside of training sessions. Remain calm and focus on teaching your dog commands such as “sit”, “come”, “down”, “stay” and “leave it”. Remember to give your dog plenty of time to learn and soon enough, you’ll improve your communication.
Commit to daily walks
Just like humans, all dogs require exercise to lead a healthy life. Even with a yard, a dog will rarely exercise on their own; which is when you, as a responsible dog owner, come in.
Dogs need a daily walk for both physical and mental stimulation. They love going outdoors for a chance to engage and smell the environment, as well as to have the chance to socialise with other people and dogs.
A lack of daily walks can lead to destructive chewing and digging, investigative behaviours such as searching through rubbish bins, unruliness and hyperactivity. Daily walks will have positive effects such as keeping your dog agile and limber, help them to build confidence, reduce digestive problems and keep their weight under control.
A happy and healthy addition to the family
Adding a dog companion to your home and family can be hugely rewarding. Although it may seem like a simple process, there is still a lot to consider when getting prepared for your new family member. With the right breed for your circumstances, a well-fitted home and some training, you’ll be able to give your dog the best chance at a happy and healthy life.