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9 Rules for Basic Dog Care

By Valentina Bellicova

Bringing a dog into your life, is just like adding a new family member. Bringing up doggie may not be the same as bringing up baby, but remarkably some basics are similar.

1. The Dog House Give your dog a home - literally. Make sure that somewhere in your house there is a home for your dog. It can be a separate small room or a corner of the family room, but it should be designated as his space. Some people put a dog crate lined with soft, washable bedding in a separate part of the house to which the dog can retire when the family does. Having his own "house" within the house, gives him a sense of security. If an extra room is not available, put his bed in a nice corner of the family room. Some families designate a soft chair for their pet - I'm not too keen on this as it's not practical to keep it clean.

If you have a fenced in back yard get an outdoor doghouse for those times when you may want to have your dog outside - particularly during the non-winter months. A dog house provides shelter from the rain or the hot noonday sun. Do not however, make a practice of leaving your dog out all the time. Dogs are social animals and love being with their humans.

2. Dress Right At the very least your dog will need a collar, a lead and an ID tag. I have seen some really smart looking lead and collar sets and when I see dogs out on walks. Judging from the way they strut you'd think that they are aware of their appearance! You will get an ID tag when you license your dog, but I really like the customized ones - they add to your dog's appearance and are not at all costly.

If you live in a cold winter climate and doggie is short haired, he will be a much happier camper with a nice dog coat or sweater. Those windy Chicago winters can be just as hard on your pet as they are on you. Dress well.

3. Get a Vet A vet is as important for your dog as a doctor is for you. When you get a puppy most vaccinations will already have been given by the breeder but it's a good idea to introduce your puppy to his vet as soon as possible. Regular checkups will keep your dog healthy and if you travel with your dog, you may need to get regular booster shots. Select your vet with care.

4. Spay or Neuter. Did you know that spaying or neutering your dog actually promotes better health, a longer life and reduces problem behavior such as biting or running away? Check with your vet as to when to schedule this routine surgical procedure for your puppy. If you are adopting an adult dog there is not wait time necessary. Do your part in reducing pet overpopulation

5. Chef not necessary - a good diet is. In the country where I grew up there were no pet stores or prepared pet foods then, so mom became the dog chef and cooked for our dogs. Rice was the basic and she would put various meats or fish and even veggies into a big pot and cook it for several hours.

Today it is not necessary to cook for our dogs. Choose a good nutritious diet for your dog. There are many good national brands that you can purchase at any good pet store. Small, boutique style manufacturers are also on the increase. Fresh ingredients, shorter shelf life, no preservatives are some of the benefits of buying a localized brand. Again, check with your vet.

Be sure there is always fresh water available.

6. Doggie School. A well mannered trained dog is a pleasure to hold and to behold. If your own training efforts are not paying off, take your pooch to a local trainer. Select several to interview. Ask which method of training they use (some training methods may be harsh) and as always, ask for references or check with the local shelter for names of reputable trainers in your area.

7. Daily Walkies Exercise regularly. Depending on the breed and size of your dog, the amount of daily exercise will vary - clearly a greyhound will need a lot more exercise than say a St. Bernard. Both are big dogs but their exercise needs differ. Walking your dog is a dual benefit - its as good for you as it is for him. If yours is a small dog taking him everywhere in its posh carrier does not qualify as exercise. Be sure to put him down on the pavement or grass and let him walk!

8. Control Remember this cardinal rule: off property, on lead. I can think of only two exceptions: doggie parks and a deserted country side.

9. Last but not least, be patient. Your new dog needs time to learn how to live in his new surroundings, how to behave with his new family, what is acceptable behavior. Your new family member will give you unconditional love and loyalty - give him a good start with love and loyalty from you!

About the Author: Valentina Bellicova is a world traveller, an author and a public speaker. An ardent student of life she observes how every human is bettered for having enjoyed the company of a dog in their life. To subscribe to her newsletter BooBoo Speaks! log on to

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