Getting or having a dog is one of the most exciting parts of many people's lives. Dogs are a great source of happiness, entertainment, and satisfaction for many dog parents.
But are you treating your dog right? Are you doing dog parenting the way you are supposed to?
Many dog parents, new and old, are concerned about their pet parenting styles, and whether their fur babies are getting the best treatment they can provide.
We understand having dogs can sometimes be overwhelming. But fret not!
This dog parents guide will help you every step of the way in making sure you are doing dog parenting the best you can.
We begin with things to do before you get a dog. Then we move on to the things you should pay attention to after you welcome your dog into your home.
Things to Do BEFORE You Get a Dog:
1. How to Choose the Right Dog Breed
Many factors come into consideration while choosing the right dog for you. You have to consider their size, activity level, age, history (in case of older shelter adoptions), and training requirements. These vary from breed to breed.
Similarly, you also have to consider the size of your home, your family members' preferences, and the layout of your house.
2. Preparing Your Home
As a new dog parent, you must ensure everything is in place before your dog enters your home. These include basic things like a cozy bed, leash, harness, and a collar with their name on it.
Other things to get would be food and water bowls, good quality dog food suitable for your breed, toys, treats, and grooming supplies.
But preparing your home includes more than just getting things. It also entails getting rid of a few things.
Household items like plants toxic for dogs, cleaning agents, detergents, toxic food items, etc., should be kept at places out of the dog's reach.
3. Training and Schedules Discussion
Training is essential for dogs' and dog parents' healthy lives. However, training activities and intensity should be set according to how compliant your dog's breed is.
Basic things like toilet training, housetraining, and command training should be a priority for any dog.
After these are decided, fix a schedule. If you live with your family, discuss and include them in the plan and determine who does what.
4. Find a Good Vet
Every dog, young or senior, new or old, deserves good healthcare. As a dog parent, you, too, should aspire to provide your pup with the best care possible.
To that end, locate a good vet in your area and make them your go-to dog advisor. The vet will also help you set up your house and training schedules.
Here are some tips when choosing a vet:
- Make an in-person visit to the vet's practice to check location, cleanliness
- Check for online reviews of the vet and clinic if available
- Observe how they connect with your dog and if your pooch feels comfortable with them
- Get recommendations from other dog parents around you
- Check the pricing
Things to Keep In Mind AFTER You Bring Your Dog Home:
Behavior and Training
5. First Day with Your New Dog
Dogs suffer from anxiety in new environments, just like humans. So, when you first bring your dog home, have everyone they will be living with around. Then, on a leash, let your pooch explore and approach everyone there, as this is better than each human approaching the dog.
With each new interaction, provide treats for positive reinforcement. Also, watch out for signs of aggression and distress — wagging tails are good, still tails are not.
Take a similar approach in introducing your new dog to other pets, if you have any, and exploring the rest of the house.
Socialization in dogs means learning how to behave around family members, strangers, and other animals. It is a necessary part of dog parenting and applies both to puppies and older dogs.
Socialization includes familiarizing your dog with different social situations (traveling, visiting other people's homes) and environmental conditions (noises, smells, tastes, and other pets).
It would be best if you also got them to be comfortable when being petted by strangers — this will help with visits to the vet and groomers.
7. Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement training instills good habits in your dog through rewards for good behavior. This can include giving them treats, verbal praise, or petting.
With time and enough repetition, your dog will start linking good behaviors with rewards. This process will take time, so have patience.
However, positive reinforcement does not mean punishment for destructive behaviors. Punishment would be counter-productive to positive reinforcement.
8. Begin Training as Soon as Your Dog Enters the House
A new dog's training should begin the moment they enter your home. You must start teaching your new dog the dos and don'ts as soon as they enter your home through voice commands and other reward mechanisms.
Your new pooch has to understand that they are in a loving environment. But, you should also make it clear that you are the leader and they are the follower — this helps in teaching obedience.
For obedience training, use these tips:
- Do not let them sleep with you in your bed. Instead, provide them with their own cozy place to retreat to for comfort and safety.
- Do not reward unwanted behavior.
- Seek puppy or dog training classes if needed.
Housetraining (or toilet training) entails teaching your dog how and where to do their deeds. This entails picking a spot for them to do their deeds.
The success of housetraining depends on repetition, consistency, and rewards.
Be patient, and when mistakes happen, do not punish them. Instead, take them to the designated spot, let them continue, and reward them afterward.
If you did not catch them in the act, clean the waste and ensure the place does not smell like their waste. Only the designated area should smell like it, so your dog understands where to go.
10. Crate Training
Crate training is not a must, but it is highly recommended. It is a way of training your puppy or senior dog where to stay when left unsupervised.
Crate training also teaches your dog to "hold it" until you come back, thus leading to less mess.
Here are some tips for crate training:
- Pick a crate that's neither too big nor too small
- Pick a quiet place in the house to place the crate
- Ignore inappropriate behavior
- Be observant and consistent in your training
- Never use the crate to punish your dog or lock them in
11. Training Your Dog to Come Back
Recall skills is one of the most valuable skills to teach your dog. It allows them more freedom and gives you more peace of mind.
But how do you teach your dog to return when you call them?
Here are some steps for recall training:
- Introduce your dog to the sound you will use for recall
- Gradually increase distance
- Add distractions like noise and toys
- Use high-value rewards like tasty treats or their favorite toys
- Be consistent and reward generously
- Don't associate recall with negative consequences (like putting them on a leash or immediately leaving for home)
12. Avoid Prolonged Isolation
Separation anxiety is a major issue among dogs, especially in puppies and new dogs. It is a distress a dog shows when they are left alone and unable to comfort themselves.
Being left alone for a long time away from their parents causes separation anxiety. To avoid this and other issues like destructive chewing and depression, try not to leave your new dog alone for a long time.
13. Provide Things to Chew On
If you have to leave your dog on its own, use dog chew toys and treats to keep their mind engaged. Chewing on dog toys and edible dog treats, like our Tibetan Dog Chews, seem to have a soothing effect on dogs. It can help curb separation anxiety and destructive chewing.
In detail: How Dog Chews Might Help with Dog Anxiety
14. Fix a Feeding Schedule
A feeding schedule is one of the first things you should decide after getting a dog. Your vet, too, might guide you through this decision.
Puppies are generally recommended three meals a day; adult and senior dogs are to be fed twice daily.
A girl feeding a dog in a steel bowl
If you adopted your dog from a shelter and plan on feeding them different food than what they ate before, make the transition as smooth as possible. Slowly increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food. This helps avoid stomach issues.
15. How to Choose the Right Food for Your Dog
Choosing the right food for your dog can be an overwhelming task because of all the choices out there. But it does not have to be.
Here are some tips to help you choose a good dog food:
- Look for the AAFCO statement under the ingredients list
- Do not dwell on the ingredients; instead, research the manufacturer and decide
- Consult your vet about age and breed-specific food needs
- Pay attention to these factors: grain-free diets, raw meat-based diets, vegan and vegetarian diets, and calorie count
Treats are another essential in a dog's day-to-day life. You can choose between manufactured dog treats (biscuits and our Tibetan Crunchy Cheese Puffs) or natural treats like carrots, apples, bananas, cucumbers, strawberries, etc.
You should use treats for training and positive reinforcement. However, if you are using manufactured treats, use them sparingly and make sure they do not disturb your dog's calorie intake.
17. Food Dangers
As with humans, many foods are dangerous to dogs. Some items are choking hazards, some cause digestive disruptions, and some are toxic.
Raw meat, chocolates, grapes, onions, and garlic are some of the most common foods toxic to dogs. Please read our detailed blog to learn about other items dogs can eat and what they cannot.
In depth: 33 Things Dogs Can Eat and 19 They Should Avoid
18. Exercise for Puppies
While puppies have a lot of energy, they do not have the same stamina levels. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain a balance in activity while exercising a new puppy.
Use these tips to start puppy exercise:
- Start with shorter play sessions and increase the length over time
- Be careful of their safety
- Mind the puppy's breed, as different breeds have different exercise requirements
- Ensure you are the one initiating exercise and not your dog; this prevents them from being overdemanding and hyperactive
19. Exercise for Adult Dogs
For adult dogs, exercise requirements depend heavily on their breed and the lifestyle they are accustomed to. For example, flat-faced breeds and giant breeds require less exercise than sporting, herding, and working breeds of dogs.
However, as a general rule, you can allow adult dogs around 30 minutes of playtime each day.
20. Exercise for Senior Dogs
Dog parents must be more careful about senior dogs as they have unique exercise needs. Old dogs need exercise each day for a long and healthy life.
But, as they have less stamina than younger dogs, their playtime has to be divided into shorter periods throughout the day. You should also engage them in low-impact activities and monitor their weight over time.
In depth: Dog Exercise 101: Training Essentials Every Pet Parent Should Know
21. Mental Stimulation
Like physical exercise, mental stimulation can also help dogs maintain good health. Spending mental energy on beneficial activities results in a happy dog.
Further, it also helps prevent them from engaging in undesirable activities like destructive chewing and anxiety.
Invest in good quality chew toys and treats to keep your dog mentally stimulated. You can also engage them in obedience and skills training.
Toys are essential for dogs as they help their teething, keep them occupied, and curb anxiety and depression. You can provide your dog with various kinds of toys — chew toys, tug toys, interactive toys, and comfort toys are some of them.
In detail: What Are the Best Chews for Dogs? — A Dog Parent’s Guide
While getting toys for your dog, make sure to get a bunch. Then, when they get bored with one, replace it with another.
Keep in mind that not all dog toys are made equal. There can be issues such as the color wearing off, toys breaking into smaller pieces, and choking hazards. Some dog chew toys like rawhide chews and bully sticks can even cause digestive issues.
Try our long-lasting yak bones and antlers if you prefer an edible alternative to these toys.
23. Grooming, Nail Trimming, and Ear Cleaning
All dogs deserve to look and feel their best. And for that, grooming is essential.
How often your dog might need grooming will depend on their breed. For instance, breeds with longer or tangled fur require more frequent bathing and brushing than breeds with shorter hair.
The grooming frequency will also depend on how outdoorsy your dog is.
While bathing your dog, only use made-for-dogs shampoo. Please do not use a shampoo made for humans, as it can cause skin irritation and a host of other issues.
In dogs, nail trimming is usually done in 4-6 weeks. You can use either nail clippers or nail grinders, depending on which one your dog prefers more.
Ear cleaning, too, is essential as a dirty ear canal can lead to many health issues like hearing loss and pain. Use a cotton ball to clean your pets' ears, and only use medically-approved cleaning solutions if you have to.
In depth: How Often Should You Groom Your Dog?
24. Wellness Care Schedule
Setting a schedule for your dog's grooming, nail trimming, and ear cleaning is the best way to ensure their overall health.
For the first time, it might be better to go to a professional dog groomer who will provide tips on grooming your dog at home.
25. Vaccinations and Preventatives
Vaccinations are important for dogs to keep their immune system strong and active. They are vital to puppies, senior dogs, and immuno-compromised dogs.
There are two types of dog vaccines:
Similarly, preventatives are medications dogs should regularly take to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
Please consult your vet about vaccinations, preventatives, and schedules as soon as you welcome your dog into your home.
26. Spaying and Neutering
Spaying/neutering your dog can help with many things, like controlling the population of homeless pets, reducing health risks such as cancer, and your dog's behavior.
While most dog spays and neuters are done within six and nine months of age, you will be better off consulting your vet about it.
27. Dental Health
Dogs, too, suffer from dental diseases like tartar and plaque buildup. Over time, these buildups lead to pain, inflammation, and tooth decay.
To prevent these, you should brush your dog's teeth regularly, preferably daily. You can also use products like our yak cheese dog chews, as these, too, can prevent plaque and tartar buildup.
As for the toothpaste, you should use pet-specific toothpaste as they do not contain artificial sweeteners.
28. Microchipping and Pet Insurance
Microchipping is a great way to increase the likelihood of reuniting with your dog in case they ever get lost. They are more foolproof than collars or ID tags.
The only thing to remember is to keep the microchip record up to date with your latest contact information if you move often.
As for pet insurance, it is a personal decision. However, pet insurance can save you thousands in medical costs if your dog gets sick.
Common Problems and Seeking Help
29. Common Problems
As dogs are curious animals, they will inevitably ingest something inappropriate. In these times, they might show some signs of distress.
Some distress signals in dogs are:
- Not eating/loss of appetite
- Not urinating
30. Seeking Help
While it might not be a severe issue every time something like this happens, it is always better to be safe. Therefore, if your dog displays any of these symptoms, consult your vet immediately.
Dog care is a big responsibility. If not handled well, it can cause you and your dog much distress. Being aware about the above-mentioned subjects will go a long way in ensuring the best life for your dogs.
We hope this guide helps you get a good start on your dog parenting journey. If you like this dog parent guide, share it with your family and friends to spread awareness about this important subject.
Stay tuned to our blogs for more in-depth articles on dog parenting.