What to Learn Before You Get a Dog
Getting your first dog is exciting, but it’s also a big responsibility. It’s well worth making sure you know some of the challenges you’ll face and responsibilities you’ll have to take on to be a good dog owner (and the owner of a good dog!). Taking on a dog without a realistic understanding of the challenges you’ll face will make it harder and you’ll be less prepared. Today we’re taking a look at some of those things you need to know.
Common Health Problems
If you’re going to take on care of a pet, you need to know some of the common health problems they’re prey to. If you find it hard to deal with issues like vomiting, diarrhea dogs might be a difficult pet to care for, as they can be prone to upset stomachs. Whether they’ve eaten something on a walk that disagrees with them, you’ve changed their food recently, or sometimes for no reason you can work out, dogs will need to purge their digestive system.
Fortunately, most of the time these issues will resolve themselves without the need for a trip to the vet. You can simply keep your dog hydrated with fresh water and nourished with small, regular meals of easily digestible food like boiled chicken and rice (it’s not a good idea to withhold food, even from a vomiting dog) and expect them to recover within 24-72 hours – though you shouldn’t hesitate to call the vet if it takes longer, or other symptoms worry you.
As your dog ages the risk grows of other health problems – arthritis, cataracts and even cancer. Read up on the breed you’re interested and learn specifically what they’re at risk of, so you can be ready to spot the early warning signs.
Your dog will need regular exercise, come rain or shine. If you don’t walk them, then there’s the risk of obesity, but also behavioral problems. Walks provide exercise, stimulation and socialisation, and your dog can get frustrated without all these.
Too much walking can also be a problem – especially for puppies. When your dog is still growing, walking them too much can affect their musculo-skeletal development. Look up how far is an appropriate walk for your dog at its specific time of life, and make sure you can provide what it really needs.
Whether you’re at home or out on a walk your dog is going to need a lot of your attention, especially in the early days. They’re curious (and hungry) animals and sometimes have little sense of what is safe for them. Many puppies chew or lick stones and may swallow them, will investigate plastic dropped in the street, and are drawn to discarded takeaway boxes which could contain chicken bones that can shatter into sharp pieces.
You’ll need to be vigilant, aware of where your dog’s attention is, what’s in its mouth and where it’s exploring in the park. Training can help keep your dog closer to you, and ensure it drops what it’s chewing on command, but you need to do your part and make sure you’re keeping your dog safe from its own curiosity!