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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dog Care:
Do's and Don'ts for First Time Owners

by Mark Nunez, DVM
© via Flickr
There are many questions new dog owners may have.  Here are a few common ones to get you started on the right foot.

DO bring your new puppy to a qualified veterinarian within 7 days of bringing her home. DON’T wait ‘till a problem occurs.  Dogs are programmed to mask pain and illness and they do a great job at it.  A good veterinarian will be able to sniff out (pun intended) diseases before they get out of hand.

DO feed a high quality diet to your dog.  The age-old adage “you are what you eat” applies to dogs as well.  Proper nutrition is one of the most important things you can provide for your dog to keep her happy and healthy.  

DO NOT change food abruptly.  An abrupt change in diet can lead to stomach and intestinal upset and diarrhea.  I don’t know about you, but I hate cleaning poo!  Hey, that rhymed!  Plus, the abdominal cramps that can accompany this issue aren’t very pleasant for our furry friends.

DO take an active role in socializing your puppy.  Find a reputable facility/organization that holds puppy classes and enroll.  This is best done before 14wks of age, but can still be very helpful after that time. DO NOT take your puppy to a dog park or a friend’s house for the purpose of socializing. Puppy classes are structured in a way to expose your dog to various types of stimuli in a CONTROLLED manner.  There is usually very little control in the dog park/friends house setting.

DO crate train your dog. Crates can serve as a source of comfort to your dog when you are away from home or if she needs to travel with you.  They can help to protect your dog and facilitate housetraining A crate is a simple way to prevent tragedies.  

DO NOT give your new dog, of any age, free reign of your house right away.  This can happen over time, but this freedom should be earned and gradual.

DO puppy proof your home.  Puppies are very playful and curious.  Even though they should never be out of your eyesight (for house training purposes), it is better to be safe than sorry.  

DO NOT assume that something will not be of interest to your new dog.  Anything and everything is fair game in the eyes of a new dog, especially if your scent is on it.

DO provide toys and environmental enrichment.  Dogs are very intelligent and need to have their minds stimulated.  There are MANY toys and puzzles that can help to keep your dog mentally sharp.  DO NOT assume that your dog is going to be a couch potato and has no interest in exercising her brain.

Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way not only to developing a great relationship with your new dog, but you will keep her safe and healthy as well.  Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment and/or ask questions.

© courtesy M. Nunez

Dr. Nunez is a practicing veterinarian while also assisting patients through The Balanced Canine blog and his own online veterinary pharmacy.


Finn said...

Dr. Nunez is our vet and we couldn't be more happy with him!

Assistant said...

Great list! I think owning a dog for the first time can be very intimidating so this list definitely helps. Its really just a learning experience, you need to know basics, but you will get to know your dog and what works.

I especially like the-DO NOT assume that something will not be of interest to your new dog. One of ours had an obsession with underwear. He would get them and hide or eat all the underwear. Another like wood legs of chairs... you'll be surprised what they go after


Pup Fan said...

Fantastic list... I'll definitely be passing this on when I have friends who get their first dog!

Melissa T. said...

I think it would be great if all new dog owners received this list.

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