Updated: Apr 23
Taking care of your dog is so much more than just food, water and a back yard. To properly care for your dog, you need to consider the many variables with your pet, such as breed requirements, grooming needs, exercise needs and their own behaviour. Below are some tips on how you can care for your dog.
Exercising your dog
Physical activity is just as important for our pets as it is for us. Making sure your dog has enough exercise is just as important as making sure they have food and water, no matter what breed they are.
Below you’ll find a few things to help you exercise your dog safely.
Make time for a fitness check up
When you’re starting up at the gym, you wouldn’t immediately run 10km. It is the same with your pet. If your dog is obese or overweight, it is best to consult your vet before you start an exercise program, especially is your dog is older or has a pre-existing condition.
Keeping cool when exercising
When exercising your dog, it is vital that they don’t overheat. Some breeds in particular do not cope well when overexerted, while others will continue working no matter the heat. To make sure your dog doesn’t overheat, exercise at night during summer, or incorporate water into play such as hoses or rivers. If your dog does show signs of heat exhaustion, such as panting heavily and incessantly, salivating excessively, collapse, brick red gums or heavy breathing, stop exercising and start cooling your dog immediately then seek the advice of your local vet straight away.
Breeds to keep an extra close eye on
Some dog breeds struggle to keep cool, even on normal days, so it’s best to avoid intensely exercising these dogs at all during summer. Dog breeds at high risk of heat stress include the brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds like French bulldogs, British bulldogs and pugs.
Exercise is not an alternative to walks
While playing in the backyard with your dog does keep them active, it does not replace the enjoyment of a walk for your dog. Walking allows your dog to sniff and explore, stretching their other senses as well as their legs.
Grooming your dog
Keeping your dog well-groomed is an important responsibility as a pet owner. Grooming your dog is more than just brushing, it keeps your dog healthy and happy. Below are some ways you can care for your dog’s grooming needs.
All dogs need regular brushing to keep their coats clean, even short-haired dogs. Brushing helps manage shedding and promote healthy skin, and must be done weekly or even daily for medium and long-haired breeds to stop their fur from matting or tangling.
Most dogs generally only need a bath once a month, based on their daily activities that is. When your dog needs a bath, it’s important to use a shampoo designed for pets. Apply the shampoo with your hands, and rub through their coat, massaging gently as to not irritate their skin.
Indoor dogs may require their nails to be trimmed, as dogs who walk on hard surfaces or concrete paths wear their nails down and don’t need them trimmed. It is important to check your dog’s nails to make sure they are not overgrown, and when doing so pay particular attention to the dew claws located higher up on your dog’s forelimb paw. Nail trimming is a job that needs to be done carefully as it is very easy to hurt a dog if you trim too closely. The ‘quick’ of the nail is where the nerves and vessels are located if the nail is cut too short and the quick is trimmed it will start to bleed. Many veterinarians, veterinary nurses and groomers can trim your dog’s nails for you if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.
Dog breeds that don’t shed hair such as Maltese, Shih Tzus, Poodles and associated crosses have non-shedding coats that require regular grooming when their fur grows long. It is a good idea to trim the fur of these breeds, especially in warmer months, so their fur doesn’t matt or tangle.
Caring for your pet extends beyond just maintenance. To properly care for your pet, you need to understand their nature to properly train them. Below is some general advice about how to handle some of the common behavioural problems in dogs.
Barking is a normal way that dogs communicate with others. Dogs bark to get attention, during play, hunting, herding, territorial defence, threatening displays and fearful and anxious situations. Understanding why your dog is barking is essential to controlling their problem-barking.
It’s important to remember that aggression is a normal behaviour expressed by dogs in a wide variety of situations. If you are concerned about the aggressive behaviour of your dog, or if your dog seems to be abnormally aggressive, consult your vet.
This is often a sign of ineffective training, but it can occasionally be due to a neurochemical abnormality. To determine the best treatment for your dog, you should consult your vet.
Dogs do tend to have a destructive nature, and this can be normal during play. However, if your dog is being overly destructive, there can be a number of causes such as boredom, inadequate exercise, investigation of environment, anxiety, fear or phobia. Often, these behaviours can be relatively easy to rectify, however, if the problem continues to persist consult your vet.
Problems with toilet training in dogs can be caused by simple things like ineffective or inconsistent training. However, there can be underlying behavioural problems causing the issue such as anxieties, fears and phobias or medical condition. Consult your vet if you have any concerns.