So you’ve decided to expand your family and welcome a furry friend into your home. There are so many benefits to having a dog from the emotional to the physical and social. Evidence has shown that having a dog can decrease your blood pressure and reduce stress and can improve your physical health as when you exercise the dog, you exercise yourself! Having man’s best friend in your home can also help you relax and take your mind off the worries of your day as well as support those suffering from depression. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to not to smile when you get the welcome a dog gives you when you get home from work! Now, having said all this, owning a dog is a huge responsibility and before those paws tap their way into your home there are a few fundamentals that need to be considered.
Choosing a breed
Selecting a breed of dog that is right for you and your lifestyle is the most important decision you will make. So many people make mistake of choosing a cute puppy because it’s their ‘favourite’ breed type. This decision is usually based on looks rather than whether you and your family have the time to devote to ensuring the dog’s needs are fulfilled. Researching your breed is essential. There is no point in buying a dog that needs hours of exercise when you work full time and have young children to care for. A quick walk around the block will not suffice and you may not be surprised when your unfulfilled pooch decides to let you know he’s unhappy by chewing your furniture or anything else that he finds. If you decide to adopt a dog from a rehoming centre then the staff will assess you, your family and lifestyle and this will guide them to match you with the perfect dog.
Who does what?
It may sound obvious but making decisions about where the responsibilities of care sit before you bring your pup home is a good idea. If the family sit down and discuss the rules then it will clarify what is expected of each. Rules for activities such as dog training, picking up poo in the garden, walking and playing with the dog, trips to the vet, buying the food and where the dog should sleep should be decided so the task of caring for the family dog is a family responsibility. Children especially can benefit from learning the responsibility of caring for another living thing other than themselves.
What to buy
Apart from the usual things such as a collar, lead and harness, a crate can be a useful tool for training and for providing a safe refuge for your puppy so it’s worth considering what size you will need and where it will go in your house. You will need to buy a comfy bed and a blanket or two, as well as a baby gate to prevent your new pooch from going anywhere in the house where he could harm himself or perhaps get into mischief! You will definitely need to get some quality non-toxic dog toys and highly recommended are food dispensing toys such as Kongs which will enrich your dog’s life when you are not around to entertain him.
Other essentials to consider
Whether you opt to do it yourself or you decide to go to an official class, dog training is essential. You need to know that you can confidently walk with other dogs and people without your dog behaving badly. Be aware that your dog’s behaviour is entirely your responsibility and therefore ensuring good polite and safe behaviour around others is vital. Registering with a reliable vet is something else you will need to do. Remember you will need to find a vet that is local to you in case of emergencies and of course recommendations from friends or family will help you find a vet you are happy with. Veterinary services don’t come cheap so another consideration is health insurance for your dog. Although insurance policies will not cover for annual checks and jabs, they will give you the peace of mind that whatever happens to your dog, you will not be put in the awful situation of making a decision about your dog’s health based on the size of your bank balance.
Keeping your dog safe
Keeping your dog safe on their walk can raise other concerns for the new dog owner. Letting your dog run around off lead for the first time can certainly be a scary moment, what if they don’t come back? What if they see a rabbit and run off? And with dog theft on the rise, you might understand those who don’t want to let their dog off the lead. Nothing can replace the release of energy a dog will feel by the off lead experience so you could consider a tracking device. They come in many forms but most come in the form of a collar shaped GPS device such as iSee:MyPet where it can track your dog’s location on an app for your mobile phone anywhere there is a phone signal or Wi-Fi. As with this particular model and with other devices, geo-tracking also allows you to set a zones (such as your garden) and you will receive a signal when your pet walks in and out of that zone so you can keep an eye on your dog’s whereabouts at all times.