Dog Care Guide
Having a dog can be incredibly rewarding, but it comes with responsibility. It's up to you to ensure all your dog's needs are cared for, from food and exercise to entertainment and taking care of their "business". In return for your care and attention, your dog will reward you with boundless affection and loyalty.
This dog care guide provides you with an overview of all you'll need to create a welcoming home for your best furry friend. It reviews things to consider when feeding your dog, including special diets and the importance of dog treats. It also provides helpful tips on what can be one of the most challenging times in raising your dog: house training your puppy, including crate training and pad training.
Create a Welcoming Home
Dogs have the same needs we do—sleep, food, activity—and though it may seem your dog wants you to believe it's fine eating your food, sitting on your furniture and chewing on your running shoes, having the right amenities will keep your dog comfortable, healthy and out of trouble. Here are the things you will want to consider for your Fido-friendly home.
Dog Grooming Checklist
- Food Bowl
- Water Bowl
- Training Pads
- Yard Cleanup Accessories
- Wire or Plastic Pet Crate
- Dry Dog Food
- Wet Dog Food
- Puppy Food
- Flea & Tick Products
- Stain & Odour Remover
- Exercise Pen
- Baby Gates
- Nail Clippers
- Dental Treats
Feeding your Dog
Your dog's diet is one of the biggest contributors to its overall health. The best way to ensure your dog is eating a proper diet is to feed it a balanced dog food, and to be selective about feeding any table scraps. Some everyday foods, like chocolate and grapes, can even be toxic to dogs.
How your dog eats is also important. There's no best time to feed your dog, but setting up a consistent time and routine will help avoid digestive upset or accidents in the house.
Consult the chart on your dog food package to determine the right amount to serve, and measure each meal to make sure you are not overfeeding. Remember, keeping your dog lean and trim can help him live a longer, healthier life. Just like people, dogs' metabolisms can differ, so if your dog is gaining or losing weight, adjust your feeding to keep your dog at his ideal body condition. Your vet can help you to determine what this should be for your dog.
Remember, hydration is crucial for many body systems, and is essential to support health and well-being. Be sure to have a constant supply of fresh, clean water available to your dog at all times.
Special Feeding Needs
The right nutritional balance for your dog will depend on its size, weight and stage of development. Consider the following when selecting a food for your dog.
Do you have a new puppy?
- Consider a puppy diet, formulated to be rich in nourishment for rapidly growing dogs. Puppies need higher protein levels than adult dogs to develop strong, healthy bodies. Balanced levels of calcium and phosphorus are also essential to growing bones and teeth. Antioxidants can help build a healthy immune system to provide your puppy with added protection in their new environment.
- If your puppy will be more than 50 lbs. (22 kg) as an adult, look for a Large Breed Puppy formula. Slow and steady growth is crucial for the development of healthy larger puppies. Large breed formulas have protein and energy levels tailored to meet their special needs. Many are also enhanced with glucosamine or other nutrients that may help the bigger breeds develop healthy joints.
- See Puppy Food
Is your dog overweight?
- Consider a weight management formula, with nutrition more appropriate to heavier pets, versus just feeding less of a "regular" food. Weight management formulas typically contain all of the nutrients dogs need to stay strong and healthy, but with fewer calories to help with weight control. Look for products rich in protein that may help your dog to lose fat, not muscle.
- Remember your dog's food is only one part of managing weight. Be aware of the number of treats you feed your dog, and increase your dog's activity level with regular exercise.
Is your dog a senior?
- Healthy older dogs need diets rich in protein and antioxidants to nourish their immune systems. A food with appropriate levels of fat and calories will help older dogs maintain their ideal body weight, and may help to avoid “middle aged spread” when it is combined with proper exercise practices. Also look for food containing glucosamine, which can help joints to stay healthy. Good nutrition can help your dog stay healthy and active into his golden years.
Do you have concerns about healthy skin and coat?
- Your dog's skin and coat are composed primarily of protein, so a diet rich in this nutrient, combined with proper grooming practices, can help to keep your dog looking its finest. Fatty acids can also help your dog to really shine. Linoleic acid, found naturally in many ingredients including chicken and whole ground corn, is an essential for the development and maintenance of healthy skin and coat. Omega 3 fatty acids may play a supporting role in developing a radiant coat—look for fish ingredients, as they are the best source of this nutrient.
- If you have decided the time is right for a new diet, be sure to make the change slowly. To avoid digestive upset, transition your dog to the new diet by blending the new food with the current food over several days.
Treats are important
One of the greatest rewards that come from having a dog is seeing the joy on their face and the wag of their tail. Giving treats is one sure way of making your dog happy—but they also can play an important role in the daily care of your dog.
Treats specifically designed to help reduce plaque and tartar can improve your dog’s dental health. Chew treats can help protect your shoes and furniture by providing your dog with a healthy outlet for their natural instinct to chew. When training your dog, small treats can provide a reward, reinforce learning and improve the bond the two of you share. Treats are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and flavours, so you can be sure to find something he will love.
Don't be afraid to spoil your pet, but remember that treats should be accounted for in your dog's total daily calorie and fat intake. Read the package for nutritional guidelines, and account for that when determining the dog’s daily food requirements. Treats should account for no more than 10% of daily diet.
- See Dog Treats
Housetraining your Dog
As your puppy becomes part of the family, there are a few important things he'll need to learn. Pad training will teach your puppy an appropriate place to go to the washroom when he can't make it outside. Crate training will teach your puppy he has a place of his very own where he can always feel safe and secure.
When puppies are young, they don't have full control over their bladder and bowels. Pad training is a step to teach your dog clean behaviour when he is too young to be trained to go outside.
Puppies can hold their bladder for about 1 hour for each month of age. This means a 3-month-old puppy shouldn’t be expected to hold his bladder for more than 3 hours at a time. Training your puppy to use paper or a training pad will give him the opportunity to relieve himself if you are unable to take him outside. Training pads use an attractant to encourage the puppy to eliminate on the pad to protect your carpet and flooring, and contain odour-inhibitors and absorbent polymers to make clean-up simple.
Pad training can be a good solution before your puppy is vaccinated and able to be taken outside. It is also an alternative for a small dog, if you live in a high-rise apartment or if you have difficulty taking your puppy outside regularly. Remember that your dog will still need routine outdoor exercise to stay healthy. Pads are also useful if you need to be away from your home for the day, or for adult dogs that can no longer hold their bladder and need an indoor location for elimination.
Steps to pad training success
Pad training can start immediately when you bring your puppy home. Unfold and place the pad on the floor with the tissue side up and plastic side down. Make sure the pad is always available to your pet and away from his bed and food.
Place your pet on the pad or near the pad so he can smell the pad’s scent. When your pet relieves himself on the pad, reward him for his success. If your pet relieves himself elsewhere, bring him back to the pad as soon as possible. Repeat this process often to train your pet to automatically relieve himself on the pad. Once the puppy is consistently using pads and is 5 months of age or older, move it closer to the door—about 1 foot per day until the pad is outside and no longer needed.
Experts recommend crate training as an effective behavioural tool. The "crate"is a wire or plastic pet home that becomes your puppy's own space where he feels protected and comfortable. Your puppy will learn this special place is for eating and sleeping in, but not for eliminating. Crate training your puppy can also avoid destructive behaviour such as chewing and barking.
Your puppy's crate should be placed in the living area with the family and provide lots of visibility and ventilation, just like a baby in a playpen. Over time, your puppy will teach himself to seek security and comfort from his home. Start from early puppyhood and have the puppy sleep and rest in his home.
When introducing your puppy to his crate, allow him to come and go on his own at first—don’t use force or shut the door. Take it slowly. Once he is unafraid and comfortable, simply restrain him at the door with your hand for a few minutes, then gradually increase the time you hold him in his crate, and be sure to praise him. Then begin to restrain by closing the door and continue to praise lavishly.
Your puppy's natural instinct will be to keep his home clean. There should not be enough room in the crate to allow elimination in one end and sleeping in the other. A divider panel can temporarily reduce the living space while your puppy is young and can be removed as he grows.
Take your puppy out of his crate after meals, before bedtime and first thing in the morning when elimination is likely to occur. This gets your puppy on a schedule. Take him out, teach him the route to the pad and eventually the route to the door, and praise him when he successfully eliminates in the appropriate location. You are teaching him a routine that will stay with him the rest of his life.
An exercise pen can also help you set up an enclosed area for pad training while crate training. In most homes, the kitchen is an ideal location to set up this space during this phase of his development. By penning the dog in an area where he will still be part of everyday household life, you'll help the dog establish a bond with family members. You will also want the area to be easily cleaned in case of accidents.
Place your puppy’s crate in one end of the pen with the door open. Put food and water dishes next to his crate along with a few safe hard rubber or nylon chew toys. Place the training pads at the other end of the pen, as far away from his eating and sleeping area as possible.
To help your puppy through his housetraining period, as he gets older, stick to pad training only when you cannot be home. Follow the crate training method at all times and he may housetrain himself, even though he is in his pen.
- See Dog Crates