Dog Care 101:
The Right Dog for You
In my family, we have owned dogs for about as long as I can remember. In fact, my first memory of owning a dog is when we, my Mom, Dad, and brothers, went to pick up a Cocker Spaniel from a family friend’s house way out in the country. As soon as we arrived, my Dad and older brother went into the fenced-in backyard to retrieve our new family member. “He got loose!”
I remember being confused. I was probably four or five at the time, just about to meet my very first dog and, no sooner than I had stepped out of the car, he ran away. So after the dog we went. My Dad had us hurry back into the car and we drove off after the runaway.
We drove for a little while until my Father spotted him swimming through a pond! (Mind you, I still had yet to even catch a glimpse of the pooch.) I watched my Dad stop the car, run to the far end of the pond, (where the dog was headed) pick him up as he got out of the water, and carry the mud covered fugitive back to the vehicle.
I will always remember that day and I will never forget all the hijinks that dog would get into, like the time he climbed out the window Onto the Roof! because we were playing outside without him. Through all life’s highs and lows I have been extremely blessed to always have a companion who was there for me no matter what, who loved me unconditionally.
I decided to create this list for anyone who is looking for a family member to make the good times better and the bad times a little easier.
#1 – The Right Dog For Your Lifestyle
For many, choosing a first dog is a daunting prospect. “What if I am only home at night?” and “Will my dog be able to fit into my busy schedule?” are common concerns brought up by many prospective owners, so you can take solace in the fact that you aren’t the only one out there asking these questions. Luckily there are many different options for those looking for a furry companion who will be there to greet you with hugs and kisses every time you walk in the door.
Adoption dogs are great for new owners, and often don’t require much training, But more on that later. *(link to adoption vs breeder section) For now, ask yourself how much time can I devote to dog care each day. You would be surprised how little you have to do to keep your dog happy, healthy, and safe. Don’t feel you have to become a full time pet parent, that is, unless you are getting a puppy. //insert hyperlink to page on puppies
Feeding your dog (Usually done once in the morning once at night) and making sure he always has water available should only take a few minutes a day but it is very important. If you share responsibilities with someone else, for instance, one of you is supposed to feed your dog breakfast, and the other is responsible for dinner, you should make sure to check with each other to make sure your dog is properly fed and watered. Remember, a hungry dog is an unhappy dog.
Choosing the right food for the right breed and age of your pup is very important for dog care, //link to page on dog foods. not only because bigger dogs need bigger food and smaller dogs need bite-sized chunks. Different dog foods are formulated for a variety of health reasons, for example, two of my dogs are prone to dry skin and the smaller one is just about as likely to throw up as she is to actually eat. The solution? A sensitive skin and stomach formula that I can give them both without having to worry about excessive itching or cleaning up the yucky puddle of half-digested puppy chow that my dog left right outside my door.
It is important to note that there are some brands of food to watch out for as they use poor-quality ingredients. Foods such as these should be avoided at all costs! Believe me, it’s not worth a vet bill down the line to save a few bucks now and then. Only purchasing foods that use meat as the first ingredient (Dogs are carnivores) is the best option, and, as more people are wising up to the bad dog food companies’ tricks, organic high-quality dog food is becoming much cheaper.
- Create a schedule of when to feed, water, and let the dog out.
- Always check the food before purchasing.
- Set aside some time each day to play with your dog (Tug of war is a personal favorite).
Being active is extremely crucial to building your overall health, happiness and success. The same is true for dogs. Nobody wants to get off the couch, you may be surprised, however, how many benefits there actually are to being more active. No, I am not saying go join a gym and purchase as much muscle milk as will fit in your car. I am saying that even ten minutes a day spend outside walking your dog can show huge improvements on general health and motivation.
“But walking a dog is hard! What if he tries to run away?”
It might surprise you how, with minimal training, you can get your dog to walk by your side, at your pace, and even get him to stay if you drop the leash (Though I wouldn’t recommend doing so). Remember, a little time investment now will save you many headaches in the future. A properly trained dog always has it’s owners interests at heart, so take the time to make sure your dog obeys and you will be amazed the things you can get him to do.
- Try adding your dog into preexisting exercises.
- Take your dog with you on runs.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of daily exercise for general dog care.
- Don’t push too hard, your dog knows its limits.
#2 – Mutt or Pure breed
Making a choice of what dog type to get is one of the most important decisions to make in your time as an owner. Let me start off by saying, there are no wrong answers. Sure, maybe a certain breed isn’t a good fit for you, but all dogs are different. Like humans, every dog has its own, unique personality. You may even giggle when you find out that Chihuahuas are one of the most vicious breeds. Now, pound for pound, the Chihuahua will do much less damage than, say, a Pit Bull, but you will find it easier to train a non-aggressive breed, than a terrifying ball of murder.
When it comes to recognizable, or popular dog breeds you usually don’t think of some mixed dog that is 1/6th Golden Retriever, 3/6ths Pomeranian, and 2/6th Cherokee (On it’s mothers’ side). No, you think of a pure bred Labrador, or an adorable little Corgi. That is not to say there aren’t some amazing mixed-breeds, they are just lesser known than their selectively-bred counterparts.
Being a pure breed is not some mysterious club that some dogs are allowed in while others are not. In fact, pure breed just means that the dogs parents shared certain characteristics that were collectively agreed constituted a specific breed or variety.
One upside to owning a pure breed is that people will recognize your dog instantly and associate certain traits or personality quirks. This can sometimes be a double-edged sword, however, when guests in your house act timid around your Rottweiler when you know perfectly well that he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Another word for purebred is inbred. Selective breeding can cause various health problems, therefore, it is important to check the general breed info on whatever dog you are considering. It’s okay, though, there is no such thing as a perfectly healthy dog. If this is a concern for you then a mixed breed may be the best option.
Click here for an article on the 11 best breeds for families with kids to get you started on your search.
The not-so-affectionately named mutts are the proverbial underdogs (get it?) of the dog care community. Mutt comes from the term “Muttonhead” which was used as a derogatory term similar to how you might call someone a “Meathead” today. How this term became the default for all mixed-breed dogs is unclear.
What constitutes a mixed breed or crossbreed dog is complicated. For our purposes we will define mixed breed as any dog who’s parents were not the same breed.
It seems like every dog food commercial has the same yellow lab enthusiastically running toward the food bowl. While this isn’t a bad thing, (labs are great dogs) 0wning a mixed puppy can bring you just as much (if not more) joy. Though I wholeheartedly recommend going out and getting a little mutt puppy there are a few things you may want to consider.
You may not know what you’re getting. When it comes to mixed breeds, a small downside is the inability to know what breeds they are crossed with. It is important for a variety of reasons, one of which being health. While mutts, given the same circumstances are generally healthier than their purebred counterparts, they are still prone to many of the same health issues. Say your dog is a mix between a Rottweiler and a German shepherd; the likelihood of your dog developing hip dysplasia (common in both breeds) will be the same, or higher, than a pure breed.
Don’t let this stop you from going out there and getting a mixed breed-cross breed-mutt (whatever you want to call it). They make great dogs and there are always plenty out there looking for a good home and a family to love.
#3 – Adoption Vs Breeder
There are plenty of ways to get your hands on a new furry friend. It usually boils down to one of two options, however: Adoption or a dog breeder. Many, when asked their preference will tell you that adoption is the best route, while others will disagree and refer you to a breeder they trust.
In the end it is all a matter of opinion. I have had good luck in both, and even have had great luck with a local, breed specific, rescue organization. It doesn’t really matter where you go as long as you find a new best friend as a result.
Adopting a dog that needs a home is one of the most rewarding things that a new owner can do, both for themselves, and the dog. You will find that rescue dogs are some of the happiest, most grateful pets you can have. They are usually just glad to be out of their cage where they spend a large portion of their time.
Adopted dogs are usually already potty trained and some even know commands taught to them by their previous owners. There are a few possible downsides, though. Some dogs came from terrible homes and are harder to train, and others, still, have irreparable mental damage caused by abandonment.
Does this mean you shouldn’t adopt a dog? No way! Adopted dogs make amazing loyal companions, who, if you give them the chance, will give you all the love they have to offer.
As I described above, my first dog was a rescued Cocker Spaniel. A family friend rescued him from a family who kept him in a cage, outside, and rarely interacted with him. This sounds sad, (because it is) but I shudder to think what his life would have been like if we hadn’t decided to take him in.
Important note for families with small children: Never leave your child unsupervised, with an adopted dog. The main issue with rescue dogs is, you often don’t know what kind of home they came from previously. While your dog may seem undisturbed by a child’s play, it could take it as unwanted aggression and snap unexpectedly.
Now, why should you get your dog from a breeder? Raising your dog from puppyhood is the ideal way to make sure you have full control of their training, health, and happiness from the very beginning. Finding a reputable breeder in your area //link// is an important first step into finding what will be your very first dog.
Some breeders may not be available in your area. If you have your heart set on a certain breed, you may want to consider expanding your search to local cities.
There are a few breeds that may be illegal in your area, so it is important to check your local and state laws regarding the possession of your particular dog.
Important note about breeders: Never purchase a dog from a disreputable breeder. here’s a link to a great article on 10 Signs of a Bad Breeder.
My Personal Experience
My first and second dogs were rescued and adopted respectively, so when my first dog; Max, passed away, we were devastated. After eleven years of care, and love he was just gone….
About six months later my mom suggested we get a new dog. Though we knew that another dog could never fill the hole that Maximillion Pegasus Montgomery, comment if you get the reference, had left, we thought that at least having a new playmate for our second dog, Savanna, would help us heal.
That is when I suggested we get a puppy. I had always wanted a playful little newborn puppy to raise and train, and I knew this was the perfect opportunity! That is when we picked up Ella, a newly born, recently weaned puppy, from a local reputable breeder we found on craigslist, who placed the ad Shweenie puppies for sale. She has been in our family ever since and while she can, sometimes, be a moody little fluff ball, I wouldn’t trade her for the world.
#4 – Understanding Your Strengths
What are you good at? Where can you make improvements? These are both great questions to ask yourself before deciding the kind of dog you want in your home forever. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be perfect to own a dog, (I know I’m not) but it is good to know what you are looking for in a pet.
One of the most prevalent problems when it comes to dog care is owners who are too impatient. Once you decide to teach your dog a new trick, you must stick with it otherwise your dog may become confused and misunderstand you altogether. If you have a problem with patience, don’t fret just yet. Try looking for an intelligent dog whose breed is known for picking up on training more easily.
On the other hand, if patience is a strong suit of yours; consider a breed that may take a little more time to properly train, but has all the other attributes you desire in a pup.
If you have a problem getting off the couch to walk your dog every single day (though it is recommended) try looking for a lower energy dog. Maybe that doesn’t work, if so, try to find an energetic dog that will force you away from that Game of Thrones marathon and into the real world.
suppose you have the opposite problem and find yourself with a surplus of energy; consider a dog who can match your motivation to be active. You don’t have to run a marathon every day, but getting out there and making use of your youthful spirit can improve the lives of both you and your dog.
#5 – Welcoming Your New Family Member
Before you take your new lovable fur monster home, it’s time to make sure you have everything you need to turn your house into a home that is suitable, welcoming, and, most importantly, safe.
Always have plenty of toys available, (try not to go overboard) so your dog stays stimulated. Make sure they have the right amount of food and plenty of water. Remember, dog care is all about finding out what is best for you and your new dog.
Puppies are destructive. They will chew up laptop cords, your new shoes, and just about anything they can sink their teeth into. You have been warned.
- Baby proof your house. If a baby can get to it, so can a dog.
- Make sure they cant get into the trash.
- Look into crating your dog when you are away
This guide is meant to help you get started finding the perfect dog for you. If it did, be sure to sign up for our email list and like us on social media!
Liked the article? Any helpful dog care tips to add? Subscribe to ThePawsHub Email list or drop a comment below, any feedback is incredibly helpful.