Owning a dog or cat has many benefits, like reducing loneliness and stress, and encouraging you to get more exercise. It is heartwarming to have someone so happy to see you each night when you walk through the door after a hard day at work. But there are expectations on your side of the deal. Following are ten simple tips on how to be a good dog owner.
Do Your Research – Considering a new pet for your home? Before falling in love with the first pair of loving eyes that look back at you, it is important to consider what kind of dog is right for you and fits your lifestyle. If you have a busy life and someone is not at home most of the time, an energetic young dog or cat is not a good choice. It is not fair to the animal and your home and furnishings will surely suffer from your decision. An older dog or cat would be a much wiser choice. They don’t require constant attention and much lower maintenance. Type of dog is very important also. Does your lifestyle call out for a type of dog that requires less exercise, or one who is happiest out on a run with you?
Be A Good Host – Your new pet is now part of your family. Make them feel at home in their new environment. Though they may drink out of mud puddles, make sure the bowl in the house is always full of fresh clean water in a sanitary dish. Provide a sleeping area all their own, so they can snuggle up at feel at home. It may be a warm blanket or a special bed. Kitties love to sleep in cubby holes so they are not exposed.
Make sure they have ample access to potty areas and the ability to access them. If you work during the day, your dog will usually adjust to your schedule, but it may take a bit of learning on his part. Be forgiving in the process would you be able to adjust your habits overnight?
If you have a cat, keep the litter box clean and away from their eating area. Cats are very particular creatures and can display unwanted behaviors if the box is not attended to.
Provide A Safe Home- Just like childproofing your home, you need to do the same for your pet. Make sure there is nothing hazardous that they could eat. Foods that can be toxic are chocolate, candy or gum with Xylitol, toys that could be a choking hazard or household cleaners. Be mindful of chewing hazards especially if you have a youngster in the house. Puppies and kitties will chew on just about anything. Electrical cords can be lethal to your chewing pet. Outside make sure your fence doesn’t have holes your dog can escape through. Make sure all chemicals are out of pets reach. Antifreeze has a sweet flavor and is deadly poisonous to your pets and children. Be extremely vigilant with spills or open containers.
ID Tags – While a collar with your contact information is a necessity, your dog is probably lost because he somehow slipped that collar and is now loose somewhere with no way to get home. Microchipping your dog will solve this. This is a painless process performed by your vet. They just slip a tiny chip under your pet’s skin. The chip can contain any information that you want. If someone on the street finds your dog or cat wandering around, they won’t be able to read the chip, however, any shelter will be able to quickly scan your pet and reconnect them to their family. It is safe and inexpensive. Have it done next time you take your pet to the vet.
Exercise The Mind and Body – Funny how pets are just like us. Daily exercise and mental stimulation keeps your pet healthy and living longer. If you are a cat person, keep them occupied with kitty toys. Ever notice a cat can play with a box or a sack for hours – and they are free. If you are a dog person, get out the leash and go for a walk around the neighborhood. Or try playing fetch at the dog park. It is a great opportunity to get exercise and play with other dogs. It is also a natural way to properly socialize your dog. Adding fresh air and exercise will benefit the both of you. It is a win-win for man and beast.
Training – Dogs like to have a job and be part of a pack. If you do not exert yourself as the pack leader, they will take the job from you. After all, someone has to be the leader. One way to establish yourself as the head is to teach your dog basic commands and manners. There are many free articles and videos online, so you don’t need to invest a lot of money if you don’t want to. All it really takes is consistency and patience. Start with the basic commands of sit, stay. It will be so much fun, you will soon be expanding the commands and you will realize how truly smart your dog is.
Wash Their Dishes – Pet water and food bowls can collect and grow a lot of germs and bacteria pretty quick. It is easy to ignore them as they are on the floor and out of sight. Since your dog or cat can’t reach the sink and dish soap, they depend on you to help them stay healthy. It is ideal to wash their indoor food and water dishes as often as you wash yours. Outside dishes need the same attention. It just takes a moment and your pet will thank you for the fresh, clean water.
Grooming – Unless you have a short-haired dog or cat, regular grooming should be on your calendar. Just like us, they feel great when they walk out of the groomers, you can tell by their swagger, they know they are looking good. Plus, it keeps their hair from matting which can pull and be uncomfortable on your pets sensitive skin. A groomer will also expel the anal glands. This will help your pet be comfortable, and not something you may want to do yourself. Your long-haired cat will also benefit from getting groomed. Check the local directories to find someone who specializes in felines. Between grooming, visits be sure to brush your dog. It will help the bond between the two of you and keep their coat healthy.
Trim Nails – if you take your dog to the groomers, this will be part of their service. If you have a dog that doesn’t require regular grooming, this will be something that you will need to keep an eye on yourself. Dogs with curly dewclaws are of special concern. The claw can push into the paw pad if it is not trimmed regularly. This can be quite painful for your pup.
Regular Vet Checks – Animals are pretty good at hiding something is wrong until it may be too late. Having regular veterinary checks is a great way to help your pet live a longer and happier life. In between checkups looks for symptoms or behaviors that aren’t quite right such as lethargy, not eating or drinking or vomiting. Though this might be temporary, it is best to call the vet and have them checked out. Better safe than sorry. If you are worried about the cost, you might check out pet insurance to see if that may be a good option for you.