The first thing to think about is what size, what breed, will it suit the whole family and more importantly will you have the time. It's also worth remembering that certain breeds are predisposed to certain hereditary and congenital conditions so this is something you may want to look into further. Once you have decided on these things what other things are there to think about?`
Depending on what age dog you get will depend on which life stage diet you will require.
For puppies it is critical to choose the correct food during the first year of life to promote healthy development. Over feeding a puppy will lead to adult obesity so you must follow the feeding guide.
Adult dogs require a maintenance diet and there are several tailor made types available from Regular, Light, Performance, Sensitive Skin and so on. You'll need to choose the correct diet for your dogs life style.
For senior dogs you will need to provide a senior diet, this takes into consideration the aging process of the dog and adjusts the nutritional requirements accordingly.
The choice of feeding wet or dry food is up to you, dry tends to promote better dental care but you will notice that the dog will drink more water - this is normal.
Make sure that you are feeding a good quality complete food and always follow the recommended feeding guide. Over feeding leads to obesity and onto further health problems that will reduce life expectancy.
This is an initial course of two injections two weeks apart, followed by yearly boosters. Vaccines cover the main diseases which are: Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Parvo. These diseases are fatal so make sure you keep vaccines up to date. More information about vaccines can be found on our vaccination page.
Legislation states that dogs must wear a collar and identification tag when out in public, this must show the name and contact details of the owner. It is also worth considering Microchipping in case the dog escapes from the garden without its collar.
Training And Exercise
There are various ways to train a dog, from going through the four basic steps of sit, stay, come and heal in the home environment to attending dog training classes which will give you more support and advise.
Training a dog at any age requires consistency in what you say and do, patience and correction of inappropriate behaviour immediately; but remember to always praise when the dog is right. Make sure that you have rules and a routine that all the family follows.
Regular exercise prevents boredom, teaches social skills and more importantly prevents obesity (there's that word again). Provide sensible toys that wont' get chewed up and accidentally swallowed; and if your considering a puppy then puppy proof your house, remove anything it may be able to chew on as this will lessen the chances of a foreign body and therefore an operation to retrieve it.
Puppy house training begins on the first day of arrival. Routine is a must. Take you puppy out as soon as it wakes up in the morning, after naps, immediately after meals and drinking, and just before bedtime. Training pads can be used in the house, spread them out on the floor and gradually reduce the covered area every couple of days moving it closer to the outside door. Puppies rarely make it through the night without the need to relieve themselves.
Worm, flea and tick prevention are good personal hygiene routines to have. Not only do they lead towards health problems for dogs if not treated, but also they can cause health problems in humans. The frequency of treatment will depend on your dogs life style.
When it comes to puppies most are born with roundworm therefore it is very important to start a worming regime as soon as the puppy is old enough. If left untreated it will lead to poor development and a life threatening intestinal blockage.
Make a point of regularly checking your dog from head to toe. By grooming your animal on a regular basis you will make yourself familiar with any thing that is abnormal and by doing this will also get the dog used to being handled. Remember long haired breeds will require more frequent grooming then short haired breeds.
Dental care is important to all animals and should be encouraged from an early age on a regular basis, this is to help reduce dental disease and loss of teeth in the years to come. The build up of tartar encourages bacteria to pass across from the gums into the blood stream spreading further infection around the body. Always use a toothpaste specially designed for animals as human products cause digestive upsets as they are not designed to be ingested.
This reduces the risks of certain types of cancer in both male and female dogs, as well as unwanted litters. Males can be castrated from 6 months of age and females spayed 3 months after they have finished their first season. More information can be found on our neutering page.
Dogs cost money on a regular basis whether it be food, worm or flea treatment, vaccinations, bowls, toys, bedding etc... But what about unexpected vet bills due to illness or an accident. This is where pet insurance comes in and it's worth looking into the right policy. More information can be found on our pet insurance page.
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