Taking on a dog is a big responsibility that can last for 10 – 15years, as such it is important that you fully consider your circumstances and think ahead.
All dogs need appropriate food, clean drinking water, comfortable shelter, veterinary treatment, exercise, training and affection to be provided by their owners.
Can you provide all of these for the foreseeable future?
We recommend that all dog owners take out adequate pet insurance to cover unforeseen medical bills – veterinary treatment can quickly become very expensive if your dog should have an accident or illness.
In addition to the unforeseen costs, annual vaccinations, worming and flea treatments are an important cost to consider when getting a dog. These treatments are important to protect your dog from deadly illnesses such as Leptospirosis and Parvorirus, and the horrible effects that parasites can have on your dog’s wellbeing.
There are other routine veterinary treatments that your dog is likely to need, many of which are not usually covered by insurance policies – these include things like routine dental treatments. Keeping your dog’s teeth clean with appropriate bones, chews and regular brushing can help to avoid the need for surgical intervention.
We recommend that all dogs are neutered to protect them from common illnesses such as testicular, mammary or ovarian cancer and the often fatal womb infection pyometra that strikes down 1 in 3 unspayed bitches. Neutering reduces or completely eradicates the risk of many of these common health complaints. It also removes the risk of your dog becoming a parent and adding to the many thousands of dogs that die unwanted in our pounds every year due to overpopulation.
Keeping your Dog Safe
We recommend that all dogs are microchipped and the details kept up to date, this way your dog can be returned to you if he/she becomes lost.
As required by law, dogs should wear an identification tag with the owner’s name, address and contact details on. This is also another means by which your dog can be brought home to you, should he/she wander off.
The law requires that all dogs are under control at all times, this means that your dog should always be either on a lead or reliably under control if you let it off the lead in an appropriate space.
You should never allow your dog to frighten or intimidate a member of the public, even if you think your dog is just being friendly, the other person may not see it that way. By law, you can be prosecuted if your dog injures someone or they have ‘reasonable apprehension’ that it may do so.
Respect other dogs’ space – not all dogs want your dog to say hello! They may be on a lead because they are sick or frail, being trained, or are frightened of (or aggressive to) other dogs. Always check with the other owner before allowing dogs to greet and respect the dogs’ body language – this way, many dog fights could be avoided.
Training your Dog
All dogs require on-going training to make them into well-balanced members of society. Good dog training doesn’t start and end with a dog training class and should become part of your everyday routine for the entire life of the dog.
Dogs essentially want to please their owners and work best when they are able to understand from you what they get right (so they can do it again!). Rewarding your dog with its favourite toy, a treat or just lots of praise when it has got something right will help to build a strong working relationship built on trust.
Training your dog and making them use their brains is also a good way of using up some of their excess energy. A tired dog is usually a happy dog, so if your dog is well exercised and mentally stimulated through training, you will find that your dog is more relaxed at home.
You can find a list of accredited dog trainers here
Association of Pet Dog Trainers http://www.apdt.co.uk/
If you really enjoy dog training, why not consider if your dog would enjoy dog sports? There are many activities out there for dogs and owners to enjoy together including:
Flyball – a fun, fast competitive sport for dogs that love to fetch tennis balls!
Agility – A skilled sport where dog and handler communication are put to the test over a series of obstacles.
Treiball (or ‘Push Ball’) – One for the wannabe sheepdogs or footballers! Train your dog to push a large inflatable ball into a goal and compete against others.
Rally-O – A combination of traditional obedience training and aspects of agility. Test yourself and your dog around a series of tasks and obstacles.
Obedience – The most traditional form of dog training, whether beginner classes to help with the foundations of ‘sit and stay’ or higher level competition, obedience training is one of the core parts of all training activities.
Heelwork to Music – ‘Dancing’ with your dog to music, an activity based on a series of tricks and obedience exercises set to a soundtrack.Ashley and Pudsey (Britain’s Got Talent) and Mary Ray are the most famous examples of this activity.
Working Trials – a competitive sport that tests many canine skills – obedience and control, intelligence and independence, searching and tracking, agility and fitness.
Canicross (running with dogs) – Fancy picking up your running shoes and getting fit with your dog?Canicross is fast growing in popularity throughout the UK and is a great way of exercising yourself and your pooch at the same time.
There are now a number of organised races where you can compete with your dog.
Bikejor or Scootering – Fast, furious sports for the most athletic of dogs! Your dog runs in a harness attached to your bike or scooter with the aim of you completing a cross country course together.
Before beginning to take part in any dog sport, it is advisable to have your dog checked by a vet to ensure it is fit and healthy enough to participate.
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