Some dogs are delightful to be around. They sit by their owners sides. They fetch balls and stay quiet and provide lots of love and companionship. Other dogs run around as if their tails were on fire, get into everything, and cause nothing but trouble. What’s the difference? Are they bad dogs? I think not. Dogs are like computers – you get back what you put in.
So how can you have a happy, well-trained, satisfying dog rather than a holy terror?
Here are a few tips to guide you on your way:
1. Choose a healthy dog: Be sure the dog you are acquiring for your family is healthy. Have your vet check him or her out in advance whenever possible. If this is not possible, look for signs of good health: bright eyes, cold moist nose, lively alert personality, no deformities or signs of weakness, no wounds or skin problems. Of course, very often, your dog picks you by walking up to you on the street, fleas and all – but that’s another article!
2. Maintain your dog’s health: Feed a good, established brand of food. There are lots of trendy, new brands on the market these days, but I firmly believe you should stick with a well-known, well-established brand. You can avoid a lot of health problems and save a lot of money at the vet by investing a bit in a high quality dog food. I use Purina Dog Chow. Many people and many vets like more expensive brands such as Science Diet. Talk it over with your vet to decide which brand is best for your pet. Of course, keep your dog vaccinated and have him neutered for better behavior and a longer life!
3. Attend to your dog’s comfort and emotional needs: Your dog will need certain equipment to be comfortable and happy. He will need his own food and water dishes, a bed that is the right size and of a good enough quality to keep him warm and dry, and some toys to keep him occupied. Your dogs’ dishes should be big enough for him to use comfortably and sturdy/heavy enough not to tip over. His bed should be big enough that he can stretch out comfortably without coming in contact with the cold, hard floor. His toys should be suited to his size and his temperament. Enthusiastic chewers like big, tough, rugged toys. Terriers like sturdy toys that they can shake and “kill” over and over again. Some smaller dogs like stuffed toys to cuddle. Know your dog to know what kind of toy he needs.
4. Keep your dog clean and comfortable: A well-groomed dog is more pleasant to be around and will naturally get more socializing. This is a great benefit, in that a dog who attracts people’s positive attention will not always be vying for it! Bathe your dog as needed with a mild shampoo. Brush him regularly according to his need. A collie will naturally need a lot more brushing than an American Bulldog. Wipe a short-haired dog down with a damp cloth frequently to keep his coat clean, shiny, and smelling fresh.
5. Keep your dog active and social: Take your dog on walks. Enter him in obedience and agility classes. Take him to the dog park. Be sure that you have a good, sturdy training collar and leash so that you will have good control over your dog at all times. Be sure to take him out every day to give him an opportunity to be around other people and dogs so that he will stay friendly and enthusiastic and will know how to behave around others.
By following these 5 tips, you should be on your way to having a healthy, happy, well-adjusted best friend who can accompany you anywhere.