As a new dog owner, getting some good dog care tips is essential to mastering how to become a fantastic dog parent. Your dog’s care should always be a top priority. It’s your responsibility to make sure this loving pup lives a happy and healthy life, and that you can provide for them and be attuned to their needs. Dogs are a big responsibility, but the unconditional love, affection, companionship and loyalty that you get in return always make it worth it.
The most important dog care tips include everything from training your dog, understanding their genetic health risks, and providing them with a healthy diet - all the way to ensuring they have plenty of toys and are getting the daily walks they need. In this guide, we take you through everything you need to know about caring for your dog so that you can master dog care, be a great dog parent, and have a wonderful relationship with your dog.
Below are 10 of the best dog care tips to keep in mind when you become a dog parent:
1. Train Your Dog (And Keep on Top of it)
Training your dog is a crucial component of dog care, because it helps you bond with your dog and communicate with your dog better, while also helping keep both you and your dog safe. For example, your dog can’t as safely socialize if untrained.
There are professional dog training businesses you can use to train your dog, often referred to as ‘puppy kindergarten’. Training your dog starts from the day you get your dog. The first two weeks are a period of time where you should allow your dog to settle in, and you can start with light training, such as teaching them to sit. After the two weeks have passed, you can go into more advanced training.
Training isn’t just for when dogs are puppies. Commands need to be reinforced throughout their entire life, and you can teach an old dog new tricks. Reinforcing training keeps it fresh in their minds and helps keep your dog engaged and listening. Plus, it’s great mental exercise. Maintaining their training (for example by rewarding good behavior) is a dog care tip that every dog parent should be on top of.
2. Give Your Dog Plenty of Exercise For The Best Dog Care
Your dog needs to be given time to run around, exercise and play every day. This exercise period should last between 30 minutes and at least two hours (depending on the breed of dog you have). Physical exercise is important for their well-being and health, but it’s not the only kind of exercise they need.
Dogs also benefit from mental exercise, which is where you play games together, give them treat-based puzzles to solve, or teach them new tricks (or reinforce the old ones). It is just as important as physical exercise, especially in high-energy breeds.
3. Feed Them a Healthy Diet
Just like humans, a balanced and healthy diet is very important for dogs. Make sure they get all the nutrition they need from their chosen food and keep any human snacks (that aren’t toxic to dogs) as a very rare treat. There’s nothing wrong with a french fry every now and then, but it can’t be every day. If feeding them raw, ensure it is a nutritionally complete recipe.
4. Make Sure They Get Enough Love and Attention
Dogs need your love and attention, and shouldn’t be neglected. They are social animals that struggle with isolation and being alone. Dogs should not be alone regularly for more than six hours per day, and they need plenty of time with you playing, cuddling, or just being around you.
If they don’t get enough attention, they can become very depressed and withdrawn. It can also lead to issues with socializing - which means another dog care tip is to let them play with other dogs to learn social skills and have fun socializing.
5. Take Them to the Vet For Regular Check-Ups
Regular vet check-ups for dogs are another important dog care tip. You should take them at least once per year for a general health check to ensure everything is as it should be. One of the best ways to do this is to link it in with their annual vaccinations. Good dog owners make sure their dog’s health is always in check.
6. Ensure They Have ID Tags When Walking Them
ID tags are a legal requirement in most places, but it also keeps your dog safe if they get lost. It means whoever finds them can call you to let you know. However, there are two important things to remember about dog tags:
Never put your dog’s real name on the tag because then anyone can claim your dog is theirs and effectively steal your dog. Secondly, never put your address on the tag because it can be used later for casing places to rob. It might seem paranoid, but it’s essential for your safety (and theirs).
7. Give Them Plenty of Toys
Dogs need toys because it gives them something to do and helps prevent boredom. Soft toys, hard chew toys, and uncooked bones are excellent things to keep them occupied and let them have fun. Just stay away from rawhide as it’s not only processed using harmful chemicals but the shards have been known to cut the inside of the throat and stomach.
It’s usually best to get your dog toys from a proper pet store, because that way you’ll know the toy is safe for dogs.
Some dog toys are even good for their teeth!
8. Treat Your Dog Regularly for Worms and Fleas
Worm and flea treatment is essential for your dog’s health. Usually, flea treatment is given to a dog monthly, while worming tablets are given every three months. There are oral options that contain treatment for both, but research has shown that this can be potentially harmful to dogs and so it is best to stick to the traditional methods (topical for fleas, tablet for worms). Dog care is often about understanding what your dog is at risk for, and staying on top of it.
9. Take Care of Their Teeth
Dental health for dogs is very important, and your dog’s teeth should be checked out as part of their annual health check.
You can get pet dental insurance and advice from professionals on how to care for your dog’s teeth. You can also brush your dog’s teeth.
You can also give your dog dental sticks to chew and make sure they have uncooked bones to gnaw on as this will help remove plaque and keep their mouths in good health.
10. Spay and Neuter (When They are the Right Age)
Spaying and neutering are important because it helps prevent unwanted puppies (and as we know, unplanned or unwanted litters of puppies contributes to the number of abandoned dogs out there.) Spaying and neutering can also be beneficial to your dog’s health, as the lack of testicles or a uterus prevents related cancers.
It’s not going to fix any behavioral issues, that’s a myth, but it is important that you wait until they have matured fully before you do it. For years, vets would neuter at six months of age, but research has shown that doing this can stunt a dog’s growth because their plates don’t finish fusing until 18-24 months, and their bodies don’t finish developing until this age either.
Therefore, you should wait until your dog is at least two years old before getting them spayed or neutered.
11. Get Your Dog a DNA Test to Understand Their Traits and Health Risks
One of the best dog care tips is to get your dog a dog DNA test, for example from CirclePAW.
These dog DNA tests can help you take care of your dog better by helping you understand your dog better. Through DNA insights, you can understand possible nutritional needs your dog has, potential cancers or diseases they might be genetically at risk of developing, and certain behavioral traits you might want to know about to improve your relationship with them.
Get to know your dog better with the CirclePAW DNA Test for Dogs. Sign up now to be notified the moment our CirclePaw DNA test for dogs becomes available.
We know you’re going to be the best dog parent possible, because you wouldn’t have made the big decision to get a dog if you didn’t have the time or capacity to properly care for your dog.
We hope the advice we’ve given has been able to help you feel more confident about being a dog parent, and given you some important pointers.
Your dog deserves the best care you can give them, and this dog care guide is just some of the most important ways to care for your dog, but you’ll discover many more ways to care for them, such as how they like to be groomed and whether or not they like to cuddle.
Good luck on your journey to pet ownership, and never feel ashamed of needing to call a vet for advice over something that might seem silly to you or for calling in a dog trainer. We all need help sometimes, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
FDA, Fact Sheet for Pet Owners and Veterinarians about Potential Adverse Events Associated with Isoxazoline Flea and Tick Products:
AKC, What Is the Best Age to Neuter or Spay Your Dog?: