A dog can bring immeasurable joy into your life — and many unanswered questions. There are issues of its health, behavior and comfort that every pet owner must understand. To get you started, here’s some insight from Tracey Jensen, DVM, on how to keep your dog feeling happy and healthy for life.
1. How often should I bathe my dog?
Only when necessary, advises Dr. Jensen, co-owner of The Wellington Veterinary Clinic in Wellington, Colorado. “I recommend no more than once weekly. Use a dog-specific shampoo, which won’t strip natural oils that protect the skin.”
2. Should I take my puppy to kindergarten or my adult dog to obedience school?
“Absolutely!” says Dr. Jensen. “Puppy kindergarten and obedience training teaches dogs to obey commands, and interact well with other dogs and people.”
3. What food should I feed my puppy or dog?
A quality food made just for its age and size. “Small-breed, medium-breed and large-breed dogs grow at different rates and have different nutritional needs,” Dr. Jensen says.
4. What are some important questions I should ask my veterinarian?
- What vaccinations does my puppy or adult dog need, and on what schedule?
- How do I protect my dog from internal and external parasites?
- How often should I feed my dog, and what is the best kind of food for its size?
5. What’s the best time to take out the dog?
Puppies and newly adopted adult dogs usually need to eliminate after waking up from a nap, after a meal and post playtime. Take your dog outside after these activities, and reward with a treat.
6. How do I introduce my new dog to the pets already in my household?
Keep your current pets separated from your new addition for a few days. After your new dog is used to being in its room, put an expandable gate in the doorway or put your dog in its crate. Give your current pets access to the area. Let the pets smell and touch each other. Do this several times over a few days, then give the current pets access to the room with your new dog out of its crate. Supervise meetings and go back to through-the-gate/crate meetings if trouble arises.
7. What’s the best way to bond with my dog?
Spend as much time as possible with your dog during the first 16 weeks. Play and talk with it often, pet and snuggle with your dog frequently. This will lead to a strong, lifelong bond.
8. How do I dog-proof my home?
To make your home safe for your dog make sure to do the following:
- Securely store breakable objects.
- Hide or cover electrical cords; cover outlets with plastic plugs.
- Safely store household chemicals.
- Keep plants out of reach.
- Put away engine lubricants and other poisonous chemicals — especially antifreeze.
- Place an outdoor kennel where it provides sun and shelter. Be sure it’s large enough to comfortably accommodate your dog.