Basic Dog Care
What is basic dog care, and is it enough? To me, basic dog care is feeding your dog and letting her out to go potty. That's simply not enough. Dogs take a lot of work. Depending on his breed, his size, and his temperament, your dog will need different things. But every dog deserves lots of love and attention, basic health care, not to mention the extra care he needs if he's sick or injured. She needs bathing and brushing, basic obedience training, daily exercise, a warm, dry place to sleep, and lots of toys. If that sounds like she's being spoiled, she's not. You'd give a child every one of these things, wouldn't you? Well, your dog deserves the same. Now, don't get me wrong, I know your dog is a pet, an animal, and though my daughters might not think so, my children do come first!
My daughters tell me I spoil the dog, that I don't make her behave, that I never get mad at her. Well, part of that is true. I don't really think she's that spoiled; I think I take good care of her and give her lots of attention. I have teenage daughters; they'd never want that amount of attention! I do make her behave; but she's a dog. If we come home and find that she's eaten something of ours, well, she's a dog; we need to be sure we've put away things we don't want her to have.
Our Adopted Dog Sydney
We adopted our Newfie/Lab Sydney when she was two and a half from a no-kill shelter. She was so cute, very sweet, and very boring! The people at N.O.A.H, the dog adoption agency told us her owners gave her away because she was too big. I don't get that. She's half Newfoundland, half Labrador Retriever. When you get a dog that's made up of those two breeds, you know she's going to be big!
That's why I highly recommend doing your research before adopting a dog. Do you really want a dog? Do you understand the commitment and work involved? Do you understand that this animal will be part of your life for a very long time, for as long as she lives? Do you know how long that is? Check out my my dog age page! Do you understand what basic dog care involves?
That's Sydney; isn't she cute!?
A Lifetime Commitment: are you prepared for a dog?
You may have your dog for 15 years or more! How old are you? How old will you be in 15 years? Are you getting the dog for your kids? How old will they be in 15 years? Will they still even be living with you? If so, then they're very young right now. They won't be a lot of help, and if they won't be living with you in 15 years, then they won't be giving you any help. You have to adopt a dog thinking you will be the primary care giver; you have to want the dog.
Though I adore dogs, it took me a long time before I was ready to adopt a dog. I was a single mom with two young children, worked full time, and owned a home. My youngest daughter has always loved dogs; her face lit up every time she saw a dog. She wanted one so badly. So did my other daughter. They both insisted we get one. NO WAY! There was just no way I was going to take on a dog under those circumstances. I was away from home too much and when I got home, I had too much to do. I was always exhausted. And, I knew I would be the primary care giver of the dog. The poor dog would get basic dog care! That's just not fair; it's not enough.
So let's look at what it takes to give more than just basic dog care and whether you're prepared.
A Dog and Your Lifestyle
Where do you live? In a house? In an apartment? Do you have a yard? A fenced yard? Do you own your home? If not, will your landlord allow a dog? Do you plan on living there forever? If not, are you willing to move the dog with you?
Are you married with children? Will your spouse help with more than basic dog care? Maybe you're single. What happens if you meet someone who doesn't like dogs? That's an easy one for me - he goes; the dog stays!
Costs of Owning a Dog
Can you afford a dog? First of all, there's the expense of the adoption - probably a minimum of $90, as you are paying for a dog that's had it's shots and has been spayed or neutered. Then there's the cost of simple things like a collar and leash, bowls for food and water; dogs must be licensed - $17 to $47; if
spayed or neutered $6 to $27, (see the spay and neuter page) depending on the part of the country in which you live.
(Some parts of the country have what is known as an Intact Animal Permit. You may obtain an Intact Animal Permit if you are a member of a pure blood dog club, or have gone through a responsible pet ownership class). You'll need to check with the laws in your area.
There are other parts of the country where shelters won't allow you to adopt a dog unless it's been spayed or neutered.
Unexpected medical expenses can be hundreds of dollars.
Dog medical care including yearly exams and vaccinations are also costly. Again, you'll need to check your area for veterinary fees.
There are fees for grooming. I bathe my dog at home. To take her in for a bath and grooming could cost $25 to $50.
Toys: I have a dog that needs a BIG bone to chew. That alone could cost $6 to $9. I have to say that I find most of her balls when I'm walking her! There's a tennis court near home and there are always lots of stray balls. She likes squeak toys; $5 to $10 each, but they last a long time. You don't have to buy toys, but you will! They don't have to cost a lot. Shop around for good prices. Your dog will need something of its own to chew, especially as a puppy.
How about a dog bed? Or will you need to crate your dog; again, depending on the size of your dog, the cost will vary. They could cost up to $200 for a large crate.
Food - about $30 a month, one of the most basic dog care items. It can be more costly of course depending on the brand of food, but make sure the first five ingredients do not include corn.
Do You Have Time for a Dog?
Do you have the time for a dog, to really take good care of a dog, or will you only be able to give basic dog care? If you work full time, are you too tired to play with, or walk your dog when you get home? Will someone else help you, a spouse or child? For me, working a part time job away from home, while working part time in my home works well. It's why I finally decided we could have a dog; I quit my full time job where I was away from home 10 to 12 hours a day.
Taking good care of a dog takes a lot of time. A small dog will take less time. They may not need less exercise, but they need less room. You can throw the ball around your house if it's raining outside. It's been good for me to have a dog. I get more exercise. I take lots of walks in all kinds of weather. Sydney and I have found all sorts of new, fun places to walk. It's a social thing too. People with dogs love to talk to you about their dogs; kind of like how people love to talk about their kids.
Syd and me on our walk one snowy day.
Dogs are Messy!
If you're fussy about dog hair, dog slobber, or a smelly dog, you need to give great consideration to whether you want a dog, and what kind of dog you want. I could vacuum every day. I don't, but I could! Some dogs slobber lots; some shed lots; some smell worse than others.
Oh, and don't forget the yard. Shoveling poo won't be one of the more fun tasks, and the bigger the dog, the bigger the mess. Don't forget the plastic bag when you go for walks. You must pick up after your pet! Just another thing to think about when giving basic dog care - it's not so basic!
Train Your Dog
You must be willing to do some training. You can take your dog to obedience classes; (that's another cost!). It's probably a good idea though, especially if you've never had experience training a dog; or you can read some books, or buy training tapes. But you should learn some basic training techniques. Dogs do need to know that you are in charge.
At Amazing Mutts Dog Training there are articles and tips on all things related to dogs. They also offer positive training sessions to residents of Corona, California and surrounding areas.
When we first got Sydney, she was extremely stubborn. If we were out walking and she knew we were heading home, but didn't want to go, she'd simply sit down in the middle of the road and not move. The first time she did this, I was worried that she was hurt. She wasn't moving! And she weighed close to 70 pounds! I couldn't move her. I soon learned that she was just being stubborn. It took a while for me to teach her, and for her to learn, that I was in charge! I was the alpha dog!
This dog needed more than basic dog care, as it appeared she had been given. She needed some discipline! It just didn't seem that her previous owners had give her much more than the very basics.
Traveling with Your Dog
Where will you leave your dog when you are out of town or on vacation? Will you board her, or will someone come and stay with her? Can you take her with you? It's probably easier to travel with a small dog, but my dog's big, and I take her with me as many places as I can. Even on over night trips if we go someplace in the car, and if the hotel allows dogs. More and more hotels are becoming dog friendly, but it's another thing you have to consider when you travel. Do you have a car that will accommodate a large dog?
That's Sydney relaxing in the hotel room on one of our weekend trips.
Our Adopted Dog; Her Life with us
Unfortunately, Sydney really didn't know how to play when we first got her. She was rather boring. And she was a holy terror on leash when she saw another dog. You see, the people at the shelter where we adopted her told me that she didn't like other dogs and needed to always be on a leash. She apparently had lived with a dog, but didn't like other dogs. She was not social. It turned out that her owners hadn't trained her to be social. This is extremely important. Dogs need to be exposed to all sorts of situations in order to be well socialized.
I got the feeling that Sydney had been given basic dog care, and that's it. She didn't play; she went berserk when she came upon another dog, and she just was kind of aloof. She was so sweet, though. Very gentle and actually rather timid around our cat. She'd probably be friendly, but the cat wasn't too thrilled about her. Today they still pretty much do their own thing. The cat tolerates her, that's it. But she has never tried to hurt the cat, although she will run and grab a toy that she thinks that cat is getting too close to. I keep telling her the cat doesn't want her toys!
Anyway, whenever we came upon another dog, Syd would get very aggressive and try to go after the dog. I really developed some muscles holding on to her! She's pulled me down grassy hills and knocked me to my knees. And of course, every time I saw a dog, I'd get tense, which I'm sure didn't help her. Finally, a male friend of mine said he was going to take her for a walk and take her off leash. As soon as she was off leash, she was SO MUCH better. Since then, I take her off leash every chance I get. She gets along fine with other dogs.
She loves going to the dog park and is only aggressive if another dog is aggressive first. She's very good with small dogs, even if they are aggressive; she'll just ignore them. She makes friends and loves to run with and chase other dogs. We've met other dog owners and their dogs who walk at the same places we do and she plays very well with them.
Sydney is a Newfoundland and Lab mix, so she should love swimming and fetching, right? Well, that's what I kept hoping. She loves water, as long as it's not too deep! She definitely loves splashing, mostly in puddles. She loves to just plop herself down in any body of water. And actually she has gotten better about swimming. She will swim if my daughters go in the water with her, and lately she's been swimming by herself at the dog park. For about 20 to 30 seconds!
She'll also fetch a tennis ball, but not for too long. Mostly she likes taking other dog's balls away from them. She prances around looking quite proud of herself. She loves chasing and being chased by other dogs. She was quite slow when we first got her. I don't think she ever got to get out and run. That's really so unfair to her. She needs to run. She's a big dog. Now we get out and exercise almost every day, (yes, there are days I just don't get to it); she is great around other dogs; and she knows how to run and play! She's quite a changed dog. Plus she's very good with small children, which is very nice. A small child's face is right at her face level which could make you nervous, but she's always been great around kids. She's a lot more fun than she was when we first got her. She's been a positive addition to our family and I think she's a much happier dog.
There's just so much to think about when thinking about whether you're prepared for a dog! Being a good dog owner means more than just giving basic dog care. So be sure you give it lots of thought. Think about what type of dog will best suit your lifestyle. A dog is a lifetime commitment. Give your dog the love and attention it deserves and she will love you right back. My dog makes me laugh when I'm sad; gives me comfort when I'm sick, takes me to places I would have never gone, and adds tons of joy to my life.
Of course your dog needs basic dog care, but she needs so much more. Choose the right dog and you and she will share a lifetime of love and happiness.
That's Syd with her shades on! She's not boring anymore!
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