- Follow local dog laws. Check your city’s laws to make sure you are compliant. Many areas have leash laws and require you to register your pet. Aside from avoiding fines by doing this, you’re helping your city stay safe and responsible by complying.
- Visit your vet regularly. Yearly visits to your vet are important to keep your dog properly vaccinated and to make sure he is in tip-top health. It’s always better to be proactive in preventative check-ups so you can catch potential problems before they are too serious. This should go without saying, but you also want to have your pets spayed or neutered.
- Make sure your dog is getting a proper diet. Check with your vet to make sure the dog food they receive contains good ingredients and proves enough nutrition to keep your pooch healthy. You’ll also want to make sure you’re feeding him the right amount for his size and lifestyle. Additionally, don’t give him too many treats, and no table scraps. Overweight pets can develop serious health problems.
- Keep your pet groomed. Not all breeds need regular haircuts, but all do need occasional baths, tooth brushings and nail trims.
- Socialize your pet. Playing with other dogs and taking basic obedience classes is a great way to start this out as a puppy. But even older dogs need to have some socialization so they can interact with other dogs and people safely. Plus, if you only have one dog in your house, it will be fun for him and provide positive stimulation to be around other pups and humans.
- Give your dog plenty of exercise. All pups need some amount of daily exercise to live happy, healthy lives. Some require more than others, but at minimum aim to take your dog on a daily walk and provide some play time, which provides mental stimulation too. If it’s too cold out to spend time outdoors, there are several things you can do indoors, such as working on learning new commands and tricks or giving him a toy where he has to work to get a treat.
- Work on training with your dog. All dogs should have some grasp of basic commands such as sit, stay and off, but most dogs are capable of many more. Some dogs will be naturals at agility training and others will enjoy learning unique tricks.
- Properly ID your dog. This includes having ID tags on your dog’s collar, as well as having him microchipped. This ensures if he ever gets lost or escapes, someone can help get him back to you. dogIDs offers several options for ID tags, and check with your local vet or animal rescue to find out how to get a microchip in your area. Check out some of our tags and find the right one for you!
- Pick up after your pet and properly dispose of his waste. Aside from preventing illness or worms, it also helps the environment. More reasons to pick up the poo are in this blog post.
- Plan for your pet’s care after you pass, such as creating a pet trust. You can find out more about how and why to do this in our blog post here.
What else would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!
About Amanda Huggett Hofland
Amanda Huggett Hofland works as a writer in Fargo, N.D., and volunteers at a local dog rescue. She and her husband own two cats named Captain and Little Girl and a goofy Boxer-mix dog named Brick. ... Add Amanda to your Google+ circles at https://plus.google.com/u/1/100395784410601424272/. You can also find her on Twitter @AmandaHofland.