Over 33% of Americans considered adopting a dog during the lockdown. After all, puppies are fluffy, playful, and make great companions. Besides, learning how to take care of a dog seems easy at first. It’s all fun and games until you get one and realize you’re not ready for the responsibility. 

Canines have different needs, and being aware of them is crucial for keeping your pet healthy and happy. That’s why you need to know the following:

How to Provide a Well-balanced Diet

Nutrient-rich meals are an essential part of dog care. But with so much choice on the market, picking pet food can get overwhelming. That’s why it’s best to research based on your dog’s age, health, breed, and activity level. 

In terms of price, go for mid-range products. Your pet doesn’t need expensive, exotic ingredients. That said, stay away from super cheap food if you can, as its price is almost always at the expense of nutrient value.

If you still struggle to decide, ask your vet for advice. They’ll provide you with all the dog care information you need. But let’s take a quick look at the most popular pet food choices. 

Nutritious Meals or What Do I Need for a Dog Diet

Most pet owners opt for a dry food diet. It’s easy to store, cost-effective, and usually well-balanced. 

Remember that the first ingredient should always be meat. Additionally, it would be best if it also includes organ meat, bones, and vegetables. Try to avoid filler ingredients, like grains and rice, as dogs don’t need them.   

Cooked Food

If you have the time, you can try to cook for your dog. Fresh poultry, lamb, fish, carrots, and bones can be highly beneficial for their health

However, preparing food for dogs is not an easy task. Many recipes online don’t meet your pet’s nutritional needs, and some even contain harmful ingredients like onions, chocolate, and raisins. 

To prepare a healthy meal for your dog, ask your vet for a recipe. Alternatively, you could buy ready-made cooked food from trusted providers. 

Raw Food

This dog diet mainly includes various meat, bones, organ meat, egg whites, vegetables, and some safe fruit. Caring for a dog by providing nutritionally dense raw food is claimed to boost their energy levels, improve dental health and fur.

That said, the diet has its risks. Raw meat carries a high chance of contamination with harmful bacteria like Clostridium and Listeria. That’s why you should always source the meat from trusted providers, who test it for contamination before it hits the market.

Another issue with learning how to take care of a dog on a raw diet is that it’s hard to create a balanced meal. So, you can opt for companies that specialize in preparing healthy and complete raw menus. 

Whatever food type you choose for your dog, make sure it has a high meat protein content and little to no filler ingredients. Also, don’t forget to hydrate your pet. Their bowl should always be filled with clean water.

pug puppy eating a bone treat in the garden

How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Health

Sadly, since dogs don’t speak human, they can’t tell us when they feel bad. It’s our responsibility as owners to learn how to take care of a dog and its health.  

Regular Vet Visits

Check-ups can help detect and prevent early illness. That’s why it’s important to find a reliable and knowledgeable vet — check for reviews online or ask other dog owners for recommendations. A vet will be your main dog care guide, so choose wisely.

Regular visits also establish a positive dog-vet relationship, which helps with unpleasant check-ups. 

Vaccinations

The best way to protect your dog from getting sick is to vaccinate them. That can prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases like Kennel cough, Rabies, Canine distemper, or Canine hepatitis. 

In their first year, puppies need several vaccinations to prepare their immune systems for fighting diseases. The C3 and C5 vaccines protect against a combination of the most common dog diseases.

Pills Against Fleas and Ticks

These pests are a very common threat to dogs and could be quite dangerous. They carry deadly diseases like Lyme, Murine typhus, and Anaplasmosis. Many of them can be transferred to humans, so preventing our pets from catching them is an essential part of dog care. 

You can protect your furry buddy from such nasty creatures in different ways. Pills are the easiest choice. But good luck persuading some dogs to take them. Some recommended alternatives in such cases are flea medication applied on the back of the neck or specialized flea collars. 

Examine Your Dog’s Feces

As gross as that sounds, basic dog care includes checking your pet’s feces. Look out for these four things:

  • Color: It should be brown. Bear in mind that artificial coloring in your dog’s food affects the color.  
  • Consistency: Soft and moist, but it should also keep its shape and be easy to pick up. 
  • Shape: The ideal poop should be in the form of a log.
  • Size: Proportional to the amount of food they consume.

If your pet’s poop looks abnormal, you can try to alter their diet to see if it will improve. Consider adding some fiber for dogs. But first, be sure to talk to your vet.

Consider Neutering/Spaying Your Dog

Desexed dogs have fewer problems with mammary cancers and prostate or testicular diseases. Spaying also eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancies. Also, it can reduce aggression against other male dogs.

Sometimes caring for a dog means making hard decisions. Desexing can slow your pet’s metabolism, which could lead to obesity. Additionally, it might increase the risk for specific types of cancer.

An important part of how to care for a dog is walking them at least twice a day.

Keeping Your Pet in Good Shape

Regular exercise ensures a healthy weight and an energetic, happy dog. Keep in mind that, depending on the breed, pets need a different amount of daily physical activity. Some, like the Border Collie, require lots of running and games to keep them in shape. Others, like Bulldogs, not so much. 

Try to provide your furry pal with exercise for at least one hour a day by running, hiking, swimming, or training. Daily activity improves dogs’ immune systems, reduces destructive behaviors, like barking and chewing on furniture, and strengthens the bond between you.

Walks

An important part of how to care for a dog is walking them at least twice a day. Optimally, this will be around 30 minutes after feeding, so the dog can go to the toilet outside. 

In the beginning, walking your dog can be a bit challenging. Puppies are either super afraid of every little thing outside or want to explore the whole world as fast as possible. Invest in a nice humane dog collar and leash, and spend time teaching your dog how to walk properly next to you.

Playtime 

Toys should be on your list of dog necessities, especially if you’re looking after a pup that wants to play all the time. Take your furball to the shop and allow them to choose whatever they like. 

Fetch might be the most popular dog game, but it’s not the only one. Here are three more ideas:

  • Canines have an incredible sense of smell. Challenge your pet by hiding a toy around in the house and asking them to find it. Then, reward your dog with a treat to show them they’ve done well. 
  • Dogs love hide-and-seek as much as children. Tell them to sit down, then hide and wait for them to find you. It’s fun for both you and your dog.
  • Create obstacle courses for a great way to combine exercise and playtime.  

Learning Commands

Your dog’s brain needs exercise, too. Learning also makes them more obedient and keeps boredom at bay. A good dog caring tip is to start with common dog commands like “sit,” “no,” and “release.”

It’s highly important to reward your four-legged friend when they successfully execute a command. Never hit or shout at your dog. It’ll only cause stress and aggression that will ruin your friendship.

Creating a Comfortable Setting for a Dog

We all know that cats spend most of their lives sleeping. But did you know that dogs also nap a lot? Up to 14 hours a day. So, it’s essential to provide your furry friend with a comfortable and quiet place to enjoy their Zzz-s. 

Crate Training

Many dog owners swear by it. It’s one of the best dog caring tips and an excellent way to teach your puppy independence and responsibility. Additionally, the crate becomes a haven where they can rest and retreat if overwhelmed. 

Crate training can be tricky and time-consuming, but in the end, it’s worth it. Just be patient and never use the crate as punishment.

Bedding

A good night’s sleep is as important to your pooch as it is to you. That’s why they need a comfy bed. 

When choosing a bed for your pet, it’s essential to consider several things:

  • Does it support your dog’s joints?
  • Is it easy to clean?
  • Is it the right size?   
belgian shepherd puppy in a comfy bed

The Importance of Pet Socialization

Dog caring can be tiresome, but it’s crucial to train your dog to feel comfortable outside. If you don’t introduce your furry pal to other dogs from a young age, you might find walks in the park challenging. Even a calm dog can start barking or biting other dogs.  

First, socialize with your puppy daily. If you want your pup to love and respect you, you have to spend time with them. It’s vital to bond by:

  • Playing games
  • Training 
  • Petting and hugging
  • Taking them with you when going out

Don’t isolate your dog. Loneliness can make them depressed and antisocial.

How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Hygiene

Grooming is an essential part of dog maintenance. It keeps their fur shiny, tangle-free and saves you from their bad breath. Also, it’s a great bonding experience.

Nails 

If your dog’s nails become too long, that can hurt their paws and hamper their gait. That’s why they should be clipped regularly. That’s also how to prevent them from scratching any wooden flooring at home.

Hair Brushing

Basic dog care includes looking after your dog’s fur. Brushing keeps it tangle and dander-free. Also, it eases shedding. 

Washing

How often you should wash your furry pal depends on their breed. Generally, what dogs need is a warm bubbly bath once a month.

Teeth Hygiene

Here’s how to take care of a dog and its teeth:

  • Brush them after every meal.
  • Choose a special dog brush that is comfortable to use and a paste that’s both effective and delicious for your dog.
  • Use a correct teeth brushing technique.
  • Give your furry pal dental treats.
  • Get some chewable toys.
  • Go to a professional for cleaning and plaque removal.

Licensing and Chipping

In many countries, a dog owner is required by law to license their pet. Your dog needs to have their license positioned on their collar. That’s how you can find your pet if it’s lost

The licensing cost depends on the duration and country, but it’s generally around $45.

Microchipping your dog is another way of tracking a lost pet. The chip itself is no bigger than a grain of rice and carries a scannable identification number. Besides, it’s not an invasive procedure, and it increases your chances of finding your dog by 50%

How to Respect Your Dog

Treating your dog with respect and love will establish a strong and lasting bond between you. That’s why you should never shout, hurt, or isolate your dog.

Respect your pet’s basic needs. Don’t starve or leave them without water. Additionally, your dog needs to go to the toilet outside at least twice a day. Puppies will need it even more often until they learn not to do their business at home.

Taking Care of a Spayed/Neutered Dog

In the first 24 hours after desexing, your dog might feel disoriented and depressed. Position their bed in a quiet room and don’t let other pets or children bother them during the recovery period. 

Also, restrict your dog’s exercise for at least seven days after surgery, or their stitches might open. You might want to consider asking your vet about a food recommendation for desexed dogs. 

How to Take Care of a Pregnant Dog

A dog’s pregnancy usually takes around 62–64 days. For most of that time, you shouldn’t give your pet more food than usual. That said, in the last weeks, you could slowly start increasing the portions until they’re up to 50% larger than normal.

Exercise also shouldn’t be altered in the first several weeks. By the end of the pregnancy, though, you should restrict your dog to shorter walks and allow more rest time.

How to Take Care of a Dog in Heat

Dogs’ heat cycles consist of several stages. The essential one is the estrus, as your dog can become pregnant then. It usually happens twice a year for smaller breeds and once a year for bigger and giant ones.

Proper dog care and plenty of attention are vital during these times:

  • Keep your pet comfortable. Hug her more and spend time with her often. 
  • Give your dog a nice comforting toy to snuggle with.
  • Don’t scold her if she bleeds on the carpet.
  • Take her on more walks, as she might need to go to the toilet often.
dog in the living room

How to Take Care of a Dog in an Apartment

Keeping a dog in a small space can be challenging. Canines love being active, and your flat might not be enough for that. So, you should:

  • Exercise your dog more: Take them on long walks and spend time playing with them often.
  • Provide plenty of toys: Your friend can easily get bored in a small space, so we recommend having an exciting variety of things to play with.
  • Open your curtains: Dogs love observing the outside world, and this simple trick will keep them occupied for a while.

What’s the Cost of Owning a Dog?

A dog owner can spend an average of $1400 on their dog annually. But the sum largely depends on your pet’s breed and needs.

Dog Caring Tips:

  • Be patient. Don’t expect that the dog will understand what you want from them right away. It requires patience and lots of treats. 
  • Don’t overfeed. Dog obesity is turning into a pressing issue.
  • Have a 24/7 emergency vet available.
  • Keep your cleaning detergents locked away from your dog. You could also go through the complete pet safety guide.
  • Accompany your dog to meals. As pack animals, canines naturally seek communal experiences. 

Conclusion

Having a dog might seem easy at first glance, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You need to be ready for responsibility and devotion

Regular vet check-ups, proper nutrition, daily exercise, and socializing are only a few of the many obligations in caring for your dog. Keep in mind that some dogs, if they’re pregnant, spayed, or in heat, have special needs and require extra care. 

So, before adopting or buying a pet, consider your financial situation and if you’ll have enough time and patience to take care of a new family member. 

Hopefully, we helped you learn the basics of how to take care of a dog, and you’ll share many adventures with your four-legged friend. 

Previous articleMini Poodle Guide — Personality and Common Health Issues
Next articleCan Dogs Eat Asparagus? Benefits & Side Effects
Miglena loves spending time with friends and talking about science over a glass of wine. Born and raised in a small town, she’s always been surrounded by animals. Cats, dogs, chickens, cows, and goats have all been her companions from an early age. Her passion for the animal kingdom became even stronger after she went to study microbiology in Scotland. Miglena’s love for writing, combined with her curiosity, makes her a valuable member of the pawsome advice team.