Dogs are very social animals meaning they don’t like to be alone – but you should think carefully about the time and money needed to care for more than one dog. A single dog needs plenty of human company.
Can you spend enough time with your dog? They shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4 hours and giving them daily walks takes time. Training to ensure your dog behaves appropriately in public also takes time and patience.
Boredom can cause dogs to bark or be destructive in the house. If you go on holiday, you need to arrange for someone responsible to care for your dog.
You will need to feed your dog a healthy, balanced diet that meets all nutritional needs.
One of the best ways to achieve this is to feed according to ‘life stage’. This means feeding a different diet according to whether your dog is a puppy, adult or senior dog, because dogs of different ages have different nutrient requirements. For example, puppies need more calories in their food because they are so energetic.
Your dog will need constant access to fresh, clean water from a clean bowl.
Food and water bowls should be easy to clean. Stainless steel bowls, or heavy pottery ones are fine. It is important to throw out any uneaten food after your dog has finished eating to make sure it doesn’t go stale or mouldy. Replace bowls if they become chipped or cracked.
The human world can be confusing for dogs unless you teach them what you expect from them.
Dogs learn by associating actions with rewards. So if they do something, and something nice happens, they will do that thing again. This can be used to our advantage to train dogs.
The most effective, and kindest, training method, is called ‘positive reinforcement’ training. This means rewarding good behaviour with treats or praise until the dog has learned the task.
NEVER punish your dog. There will be mistakes, or ‘bad days’, but these are normal and must be ignored. Neither physical punishment (such as hitting) or verbal (shouting) is ever acceptable in training. Remember, dogs don’t know what you want them to do until they have learned from you. It’s your job to teach them in a way that they understand. They’re not being naughty, they just haven’t understood what you want yet. Punishment leads to fear and anxiety, and these are scientifically proven to slow down learning. Reward is always the way to get good success.
The law states that, when in a public place, a dog must wear a collar and identity tag showing the name and address of the owner. A collar should not be so loose that it can slip over a dog’s ears - but should be loose enough for you to fit two fingers underneath it.
Dogs need plenty of mental stimulation to be happy. To help provide this you should play with your dog regularly, using appropriate dog toys.