Man’s Best Friend: Nutrition, Behavior and Training

How to care for a dog

A guide on subjects ranging from breeding to feeding helps you to get the maximum enjoyment from man’s best friend.

Dog breeds for people who live in the city

Small breeds, such as toys, are generally well suited for someone who lives in a city apartment or travels a great deal. However, they can be quite noisy, and they don’t adapt well to small children.

Some of the most popular small breeds are the toy poodle, the chihuahua, the pug, and the Yorkshire terrier. If you prefer a slightly larger dog that adapts well to city life, a miniature poodle, cocker spaniel, Lhasa apso, or cairn terrier may be what you need.

See: What is the best way to pick a puppy from a litter?

The cost of owning a dog

Beyond the initial cost of the dog, which could range from a nominal fee at a shelter to hundreds of dollars at a breeder’s, you’ll have to buy dog food and some equipment, such as a collar and a leash. You’ll also have to pay license fees as well as the charges for regular veterinary examinations and shots.

Is a purebred dog more temperamental than a mixed-breed?

This is a kind of folk, animal-psychology notion, and it just isn’t true. Some dogs are crazy, some moody or grumpy, and some particular about what they eat, but it doesn’t matter whether they’re purebred or mongrels.

The best place to buy a dog

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line show dog and you want to make sure that genetic problems have been eliminated as much as possible, your best bet is a private breeder. Another possibility that’s attractive to real bargain hunters is the local animal shelter.

Choosing between a long-haired dog and a short-haired one

There are four main things to consider: the climate of the area you live in, how great its flea and tick problem is, the time you can spend grooming the dog, and the problems that can be caused by shedding. Naturally, a dog that’s adapted to cold climates will suffer in tropical climates.

Short-haired dogs have an advantage where fleas and ticks are concerned because they offer these parasites less protection from pesticides and other control methods. You should also base your decision on the amount of time you’re willing to spend grooming your dog. Finally, you should consider the amount of aggravation shedding might cause to your family.

How should I hold a puppy when I pick her up?

Support the puppy’s hind end with one hand and put the other hand under her chest. If you always try to support a pup’s hind end, the animal will feel more secure and be less inclined to squirm around and try to break free. Always be gentle with a puppy, and never try to pick her up by the scruff of the neck.

The best age to bring home a puppy

Between 8 and 12 weeks a puppy begins to be more interested in the outside world and is more likely to react well with and form strong attachments to people. That’s the best time to introduce the animal into your household.

Should I get a puppy if nobody is home during the day?

This isn’t a good idea. Without plenty of personal contacts early in life, a dog often grows up to become a very neurotic, troublesome pet. When a puppy is 8 weeks old, he’s learning some key lessons in socializing with people.

If the puppy doesn’t have a lot of interaction with humans during this time, he can become a real problem later on – constantly seeking attention, barking, destroying things, and so on. If you want a dog, why not consider an adult? There are usually plenty of well-adjusted, grown dogs at the animal shelter that would adapt well to your situation.

Should I take my child to pick out a new dog?

Yes, if the youngster is old enough – say, more than 5 years old. After all, you’ll want to see how the child and the dog interact to make sure you get a dog that isn’t afraid of children and will take to handling by a child.

Preparing for the puppy’s homecoming

Be sure you can spend plenty of time with the puppy while he’s getting used to his new home. The ideal time would be a long weekend or during your holiday.

Be sure to prepare a permanent place for the puppy to sleep and rest; most people prefer to use a small area in the kitchen or a large box. Keep in mind the fact that changes can be traumatic for a dog, and one of the ways a puppy responds to stress is to stop eating.

Don’t be surprised if the puppy doesn’t eat for the first day or so, but if this continues for more than 48 hours you should contact your vet. It’s also important to find out what the puppy has been fed and keep him on the same diet for at least the first couple of days. Later on, you can introduce new foods but if you change the diet too abruptly the puppy is apt to get diarrhea.

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How often should I feed my puppy?

From the age of 6 to 12 weeks, feed the puppy three times a day. After 12 weeks, cut back to twice a day until the dog is six months old. Then once a day.

Should I give my puppy milk?

It’s usually not a good idea because ordinary milk can cause diarrhea.

Can I feed my puppy eggs?

Yes. Eggs are especially good for the puppy’s coat. Give a small puppy an average of 3 eggs a week; 6 is fine for larger puppies. The egg can be cooked or raw, whichever the puppy prefers.

How much handling should a young puppy have?

Actually, it has been found that handling is very good for the puppy. But make sure you do it gently. Don’t force the puppy; handle him carefully and let him down when he’s tired of playing.

Should the puppy be allowed to explore the house?

It’s generally a good idea to let the puppy explore the house – but only under your supervision. Be sure to do this gradually and always when you’re there to keep an eye on things. The puppy should never be given free rein of the house at night. When you go to bed she should be confined to her sleeping area.

Is it okay to hit the puppy to discipline him when he’s in the wrong?

Generally speaking, no. This usually makes him very hand shy, and he’ll also learn to cower when you approach. The best way to discipline the puppy if you catch him in the act – eliminating in the house, chewing on something, tipping over the garbage, barking excessively, etc. – is simply to grab him by the scruff of the neck, shake him gently, and praise him when he decides to stop the bad behavior.

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How should I housebreak my new puppy?

One of the first rules of housebreaking is to feed your puppy at specific times. Don’t leave food out all the time. Your puppy will usually have a bowel movement about 15 minutes to half an hour after meals, and that’s when you should take her out for her walk.

Always try to use the same door when you take the dog outside – that way, the dog will go there when she needs to be walked and can signal to you.

How can I get my puppy used to riding in a car so he won’t get sick every time?

Start with short trips. Don’t take the puppy with you when it’s hot or right after he has eaten, as this could upset his stomach.

Should I give my dog bones?

Yes, but you should take some precautions because bones can cause problems. Bones can splinter and cause internal damage by perforating the esophagus, the stomach or the small intestine, or by causing fecal impactions. Never give your dog poultry bones of any kind; they’re thin and hollow, and they break up into sharp, dangerous slivers.

Give a dog something really tough that he can gnaw on without making much headway. Watch his progress, and when he starts to break it open and splinter it, take it away and give him a new one.

How often should I brush my dog?

For the average dog, one that isn’t shedding too much or having skin problems, twice a week is usually enough. Remember that the need for brushing depends on the kind of coat the dog has.

My dog’s footpads have little cracks in them. Is this an injury?

Footpads, like most calluses, get occasional cracks and fissures. This is nothing to worry about as long as the cracks don’t extend all the way through the pad and you can’t see the pink flesh underneath.

If there is a deep break in the pad, it will need treatment because the dog has lost a natural barrier against infection. Wash the pad with an antiseptic solution and keep it bandaged until it has had a chance to heal (about a week or even a little longer). Change the bandage every second day.

What’s the best way to clean a dog’s ears?

Use cotton dipped in mineral oil and your fingertip. If the ear is particularly clogged with wax, you can get a solution from the vet that will break up the deposit. After a couple of days of this treatment, the ears can then be cleaned with cotton and mineral oil. Cotton swabs are not recommended for cleaning a dog’s ears because they can actually impact material further into the ear.

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Does a dog really need a kennel?

This is generally a good idea if the dog spends a lot of time outside. Make sure you have one that’s roomy. It should also be raised off the ground so that the floor doesn’t get too cold in the winter; insulation also helps keep the temperature in the house safe and comfortable.

A kennel can also help prevent heatstroke when the sun is hot. Remember to clean and disinfect the kennel regularly; about once a week is fine. Don’t put a rug or any kind of cloth in the kennel – this will only make cleaning harder and it will serve as a hideout for fleas.

How much exercise does a dog really need, and how soon should I start some kind of regular schedule?

You can begin a daily routine when the dog is 3 months old. A mature dog – 4 months to 10 years old – should be walked at least three times a day and allowed free exercise for 30 minutes or more a minimum of twice a week, no matter what the breed or size.

Little dogs can get this exercise inside a flat or house. It’s also a good idea to do as much running and playing on grass as you can. Pavement can be very damaging to a dog’s feet, especially with the kind of sprinting and stopping that goes along with most play.

Beyond companionship, what is a dog able to contribute to a child’s upbringing?

Having a dog is an excellent way to teach a child responsibility. Obviously, the child can also learn a great deal about respect for other living things by seeing, through close contact with a dog, that an animal has feelings too.

My children like to have the family dog sleep with them. Can this cause any medical problems?

There’s no special risk, as long as the dog is clean and well cared for.

We already have a dog and are expecting a baby. Can this be a problem?

To some extent, it depends on the temperament of the dog – but most grown dogs will tolerate children, and most people know their dog well enough to be able to predict whether the animal can adjust to having a child in the house. The combination of a very young child and a grown dog is usually safe because the dog is mature enough to behave calmly around the child.

What advice do you have for someone who’s trying to find a lost dog?

If the dog just wandered away, he probably hasn’t gone very far. Put up a few posters in the neighborhood, offering a reasonable reward. Include a good picture of the dog, if you have one. Also, check with the local animal shelter. Read the newspaper’s lost and found column, and place an ad there. Another possibility is the city dog pound; stop by periodically to see what animals they’ve picked up.

How often can I expect my female dog to go on heat?

The cycle occurs about twice a year. After the first heat, the cycles normally occur every six months, but some dogs may skip a heat. Irregular cycles generally involve missing a heat rather than having an extra one. It’s very unusual for a dog to have more than two heats in one year.

How can you tell when your dog is pregnant?

A vet can usually tell within the third or fourth week by palpating the dog’s abdomen. During the fifth or sixth week, the abdomen swells noticeably and the dog’s nipples enlarge.

See: What are the first signs of whelping?

After breeding takes place, how long is it until the puppies are born?

The gestation period for dogs is between 58 and 68 days, with the average being about 63 days. This is generally true regardless of the breed or the size of the dog.

What’s the best diet program for a pregnant dog?

Good nutrition is essential during pregnancy, and it’s excellent preventive medicine for insuring healthy puppies. The most important change in the dog’s diet, while she’s pregnant, is the need for extra protein.

Her requirement of protein will double, and her diet will have to be supplemented. You can add eggs to her usual meal, along with some powdered milk or cottage cheese, as well as additional dog food. Another crucial part of the diet is calcium, particularly during the last four weeks of gestation.

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Is it all right to give a pregnant dog worm medicine?

Absolutely not. In fact, it’s best not to give a pregnant dog any medication that hasn’t been cleared with your vet. Some wormers can be highly toxic to fetuses.

Should you wait for a dog to have her first heat before having her spayed?

No. This idea has become just as widespread as the notion that spaying stunts a dog’s development. Neither one is true. A dog’s maturity rate is unaffected by spaying, as long as it’s done after the dog is six months old.