The time that you invest every day in taking care of your pooch will be rewarded with a wagging tail and doggie kisses. Here's a rundown of the basic tasks required on a regular basis to keep a dog in great shape and spirits.
Dog Care Checklist
Food & Water
Your dog needs proper nutrition every day to stay healthy. Select a high-quality dog food for your pooch and rather than relying on the suggested serving amount on the dog food package, ask your vet for advice concerning the proper amount of food to give your dog specifically. Split your dog's daily required food intake into two meals a day and try to keep an established schedule for feedings to keep it consistent. Again, talk to your vet if you have any questions. Your dog should always have access to water. Start with a fresh bowl of water in the morning and refresh it throughout the day when needed. You may have to change the water (not just refill it) should it become cloudy with dirt or bits of food. During the warmer summer months, she will need more water. Wash the food and water dishes daily.
Just like children, dogs need a potty break after meals – usually within 20 minutes after eating. That is in addition to letting her out in the morning when she wakes up, right before she goes to sleep and other bathroom breaks throughout the day. Let her do her business in a fenced in grass area or put her on a leash and take her for a walk. Remember to scoop the poop after she's done.
Exercise & Play
Daily walks and playtime not only keep your dog physically fit, but provide mental stimulation for your pooch (which is just as important to her overall health and happiness). Just how much physical activity your dog needs depends on breed, age, and health. The best time to find out how much time you must commit to walking and playing with your pooch is, ideally, BEFORE you bring her into your home. Once you have a four-legged family member, you must make it a priority to give her the proper amount of exercise -- whether you do this yourself, or by hiring a dog walker.
Show your pooch that you love her every day, as much as you can. Talking to her, petting her, playing with her and offering the occasional doggie treat will help keep her happy. It may just lighten your spirits, too. There is no set amount of time, but since dogs are social creatures, the more time you can spend with your dog the better. You can even squeeze in that time by just letting her sit by your feet when you're watching television or talk to her as you are cooking or folding laundry.
If you can, try to brush your pooch daily If that's not feasible, brush her thoroughly at least once a week -- though this is typically not enough for a long haired dog. If you have a long-haired breed and you can't brush her daily, you'll need to make more frequent appointments with a groomer. No need to worry about bathing her everyday or even every week. Unless she's a habitual mud-roller that likes to make friends with skunks or has very oily skin, you can usually keep the bathing to every few months. Visit a groomer to get out any stubborn mats in the hair, keep her nails trimmed, and to express her anal glands -- a job you'll probably NOT want to do yourself! You'll groomer will be able to let you know how often your dog should be taken in for an appointment, depending on her (and your) specific needs.
Dogs can sink their teeth into some interesting smelling stuff, on top of their regular doggie breath smell. Every three to seven days you should brush her teeth. This not only cleans them, it also helps reduce dental problems and maintains healthy teeth and gums. There is doggie toothpaste you can use or just mix up a paste of baking soda and water. Grab a kid's toothbrush or gauge pad to scrub those teeth.
By Susan Revermann
About the Author
Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.