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Dog Care 101

 


If you are looking for a long term relationship with a high maintenance partner, then a dog is the pet for you. Once you’ve done your research and hopefully considered adopting, then you need to start with the basics.
 
Here are a few things critical to a happy dog and sane owner, in order of importance.
 

Exercise

All dogs need exercise. Medium to large dogs and teenage dogs typically have more energy than the average Olympic athlete. So get those walking shoes out and get walking. Even puppies like short, gentle walks. Ideally, you should walk your dogs twice a day but the more the merrier.
 
Beyond walking, they also like to play. Granted senior dogs are less inclined to chase a ball and fetch, but my 11 year old Sheeri can still be lured into a game of chase when the wind is right. However, different dogs like different games so do your research and try a few things. Doggy games usually fall into these categories; fetching, chasing, tugging, searching.

 

Training

It would seem obvious but most people seem to believe dogs understand English, or Cantonese or whatever it is they speak. However, they don’t. You have to teach them what your words mean, so be patient and above all consistent. Hand signals are a great reinforcer and useful for when your pooch is old and deaf. Ideally, your dog should come when called and know the basics of sit, down and stay. They should also learn to walk nicely on a leash.

 

Socialization

Dogs need non human company. Another dog is great but even a cat will suffice. In all my years, I think it is only the dog which can become confused enough to think it’s a human. And sometimes, it’s a sad thing to see. They also need to learn acceptable canine conduct and how to read the body language of other dogs or one day you may be faced with an insecure or aggressive dog.

 

Species Appropriate Food

Dogs are by nature omnivorous and can, if absolutely necessary even be vegetarian. However, for optimum health, I still believe a diet rich in animal nutrients is best. As this can be a volatile topic, I will merely say that owners should do what they think is best but remember that great food is no replacement for exercise, training and socialization.

 

What About Affection?

When I put the leash on, I stroke my dogs. When I train them, I pat them for a job well done. When I feed, I often feed a few morsels from my hand first. So I guess affection suffuses everything I do with them.

 

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Alicia Horsley

Alicia Horsley is the owner of Pet Epicure, which is more than just a pet boutique and luxury cat boarding facility. They are devoted and passionate animal lovers, believing in responsible & ethical pet ownership and breeding, raw feeding, helping abandoned animals, education and disseminating information.

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