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Dogs and Puppies

Hints & Tips

Welcoming a canine companion into your household can be very rewarding whether you choose a puppy or an older dog. With the right amount of love and attention they will soon live up to their name as man's best friend!

To many, owning a dog is like having a child. Remember with all the joys and fun that you will undoubtedly have are the added responsibilities and pitfalls! Like most things in life, being well prepared for the new arrival is essential.

We aim to give you some insight into what to expect from your new dog and how to go about bringing him/her up to be happy and healthy.

For more detailed information there is a vast array of books that are available that give advice on rearing dogs and being a responsible owner. Your vet will also have a wealth of knowledge, so don't forget them in your quest for information.

A Dog or a Puppy?

It can be very tempting to choose a puppy rather than an older dog, but they are not always the ideal choice. A puppy will need its vaccinations and if you do not wish to breed from them they should be neutered or spayed. A puppy will also require more mealtimes a day than an older dog, and adequate play time, training and constant supervision, especially when they are very young. However, many people like having a pet from when they are young as they can watch them grow and train them from the beginning.

It can be a fantastic experience owning a puppy, but older dogs also need loving homes and there are many that need re-homing in the UK. It can be highly rewarding choosing an older dog from a rescue organisation or a previous owner, and one who would like that second chance at life. Choosing to re-home an older dog does have its advantages. They are more likely to be toilet-trained and already accustomed to people, so you will form a bond in no time.

If you decide upon a puppy, remember that being taken from their mother may be a very traumatic experience. It is essential that in the early days you devote as much time to your puppy as possible. Your puppy needs to feel safe and reassured within their new 'pack' i.e. your family. Place your puppy's bed somewhere near to the family in a warm, quiet place and get your puppy to rest in their warm, cosy bed during the day when their new family is nearby. By doing this your puppy will feel safe and secure in their bed at night when they are alone. Hopefully, this will keep the crying and door scratching to a minimum!

Puppies need regular, small feeds normally four times a day. Ideally, this should be done after your own meals so that your puppy learns their place in the 'pack' hierarchy. Place your puppy's feeding bowls in a quiet spot. Try to ensure that your puppy is not disturbed while they are eating.

Puppies need a balanced, nutritious diet. This will help ensure they develop a strong immune system, good digestion, a healthy skin and coat, and become all-round lively dogs. You will already be aware of the huge number of different dog foods available. Many manufacturers are now developing food specifically for puppies, with higher protein, vitamin, mineral and calorie levels - just what fast growing puppies need!

Breed, Personality and Size

Choosing a breed of dog that will be compatible with your lifestyle is of utmost importance to both you and your new dog. Make sure you have enough time to take your dog for walks and play with them. Dogs are loyal, loving companions and giving them love and attention will enhance the bond between you.

You need to decide whether you would like a pedigree, crossbreed or mixed breed dog. There are many registered pedigree breeds and doing your research into them will help you to find a breed with which you could be compatible. Many people enjoy owning crossbreed or mixed breed dogs, as their appearance and behaviour is not as easily predictable as with a pedigree, and they will have their own unique personality traits! A crossbreed dog is one where both parents are pedigree but of different breeds. A mixed breed dog is where the breeds of both parent dogs may be unknown.

Don't forget that size is an important factor when choosing a dog. If you have a good-sized garden and a spacious house then you would be more suited to have a larger dog than someone living in a flat with little outdoor space. There are many breeds of dogs with vast differences in size, so you can be sure that there is a breed out there that will be suited to you!

Devoting your love and time to your new dog or puppy will be priceless. It will help them to feel settled and secure in your home and to strengthen your bond.