What to feed your dog is best determined by your pet's veterinarian, as proper nutrition may vary depending on breed, age, health and other factors. Good quality commercial dog food can be purchased at any pet supply store. Generic food does not typically provide a well-balanced healthy diet. The amount of food recommended for the size of your dog will be listed on the dog food label. Ask your veterinarian for a list of recommended foods since some types of food intended for humans can cause illness in dogs. Be sure your pet has plenty of cool, clean, fresh water.
Your dog will need a warm, quiet place to rest. Training crates are ideal for this purpose. You may purchase a dog bed or simply make him a resting area on a blanket in a quiet part of the house. Having his own special place to retreat is very important.
If your dog will be spending a lot of time outside, he will need shelter from the sun and rain. Bedding will need to be laundered more frequently. Outdoor dogs are exposed to ticks, fleas, and other parasites. Plan to spend more on veterinary bills if your dog spends a lot of time outside. Ideally, an outdoor dog should have the benefit of a fenced yard to protect him from getting lost and becoming a nuisance to neighbors.
Learn about Dog Tethering.
The proper way to lift a puppy or small dog is by placing your hand under its chest while supporting the hind legs with your other hand.
Walking your dog on a leash is safest for him and the best way to ensure he does not run away from you or into traffic. When traveling by car, be sure your pet is always in a carrier.
The saying, "let sleeping dogs lie," is a good one to remember. Do not disturb your pet when it is sleeping.
When you adopt a dog from Lee County Domestic Animal Services, it will receive its first set of shots and a test for heartworms if it is 6 months old or older. It is the owner's responsibility to see that regular veterinary care is maintained. Your veterinarian will vaccinate your dog according to an age appropriate schedule. This will include a rabies vaccination when your dog is 3 to 4 months of age. Dogs must be vaccinated for rabies by the age of 4 months.
Adult dogs also require scheduled vaccinations. Your veterinarian will determine the diseases for which your pet is at risk, such as distemper, hepatitis, parvoviral enteritis, parainfluenza/bordetella, leptospirosis and rabies.
Dogs are susceptible to heartworms, which are contracted from mosquitoes. It is important that your dog receives monthly preventive medication against heartworm disease. It is also important to protect your pet from fleas and ticks. In addition to your veterinarian's phone number, you should keep an emergency number handy.
Dogs and puppies adopted from Lee County Domestic Animal Services are spayed or neutered as part of the adoption fee. In the United States, approximately 4 million pets are euthanized each year because there are not enough homes for them. Urge your friends to spay or neuter their pets to avoid contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. Spaying and neutering also decrease an animal's chance of developing several types of cancer. You will see fewer veterinary bills with a healthier pet. Spaying and neutering also help prevent behavior problems.
<Bookmark>Cleaning, Grooming, and Identification
How often you bathe your dog will depend on the breed and type of fur. Some breeds need frequent bathing while others will require fewer baths. Ask your veterinarian what is recommended for your particular pet. When it is necessary to bathe your dog, be sure you use a shampoo made for dogs. Other types may irritate their skin.
Regardless of how often you bathe your dog, frequent brushing is necessary to reduce shedding and prevent matting or knotting of the fur. This is a good time to check for fleas and ticks.
Your dog's nails should be checked weekly and trimmed monthly. Cut only the white part of the nail. Never cut into the pink area where the veins are located! It is possible to cause damage by trimming the nails too close to the quick. Your veterinarian or an experienced groomer can demonstrate the proper method.
While it is recommended that you keep your dog inside or confined to a fenced-in yard, dogs do sometimes escape through an open door or jump or dig under a fence. It is very important that you purchase a collar with an identification tag. Animals may also be implanted with a microchip ID. This microchip is about the size of a piece of rice and is implanted between the shoulder blades by injection. The procedure is quick and relatively painless. However, its benefits are enormous. Even if your pet has no identification tag or if the tag is lost, a scanner can read the microchip number. Lee County Domestic Animal Services implants Avid chips. The microchip can identify you as the owner through its database even if your pet leaves Lee County or the State of Florida.
<Bookmark>Training and Behavior
All dogs will benefit by learning basic commands -- Sit, Stay, Come, Down, Heel, Off, and Leave It -- from an obedience class. The time and expense invested in this will have its rewards throughout your dog's lifetime. Your veterinarian or the shelter may make some recommendations for available classes.
Unacceptable behavior should never be rewarded with positive attention. Consistency and timing are everything in training. Punishment has almost no effect, except perhaps to teach your dog fear. Never hit your dog! Reward your dog for obedient behavior with a hug, a favorite toy, a walk outside or occasionally a special food treat. A loud, firm "No" should be the response to a disobedient dog. Do not play with him as long as he acts inappropriately.
Dogs are pack animals and as such do not like to be left alone. This trait also causes puppies to easily bond with members of a new human pack or family. In each pack there will be a leader. Your dog should never be ahead of any member of the family in pack order. This can lead to aggressive and dominant behavior.
Dogs are also denning creatures. They feel secure in small tight places. For this reason, crate-training, as a method of housebreaking, works quite well. You may obtain more information on crate-training from the shelter.