Our guide to making your home dog friendly
Dogs make great pets, as long as they are properly cared for in a suitable home. All owners have a responsibility to look after their pet under the terms of the Animal Welfare Act. So how do you make sure your dog is happy and healthy?
Dogs like to explore, so it’s a good idea to dog proof your home in order to make it more pet-friendly.
You can start by keeping wiring and electricals out of reach, as well as choking hazards, dangerous objects and cleaning products.
Outside space is important for your dog – even more so if you have more than one - as your pet needs somewhere to go to the toilet and quickly stretch its legs.
But keep in mind that the garden can be a dangerous place for dogs, with poisonous substances such as slug pellets, rodent killers and even toxic plants.
The conservatory might seem a great home for a dog, but you should never keep a dog in a conservatory. On sunny days, it’s a bit like leaving your pet in the car as the temperature could soar to dangerous levels.
Dog food and drink
Your pet should have constant access to clean drinking water as it can become ill very quickly if it is dehydrated.
It should also be fed at least once a day, with the appropriate and correct amount of food. Dogs shouldn’t eat human food. Chocolate is particularly bad for dogs, as are onions, grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants.
Also, try to limit the treats, however much your dog begs. An overweight dog is not a healthy or happy dog.
A dog is required by law to wear a collar that displays the owner’s name and address when it is in a public place. Under the new micro-chipping law, all dogs and puppies must be micro-chipped and registered by the age of eight weeks (BlueCross, 2018).
Experts recommend that your dog has somewhere quiet to rest and sleep. It’s worth choosing a bed that can easily be cleaned to control pet hair, fleas and dirt.
It’s a good idea to take your pet’s sleeping style into consideration when choosing a bed
- whether they sprawl, curl up or lean against something while they sleep. If your dog likes to spread out, measure your dog and add 6-12 inches to give your pet pooch more room (Buddy Rest, 2018).
You might even want to give your dog a couple of options – a cosy box bed for the winter, for example, and a lighter bed for the summer months.
Ideally, no adult dog should be left alone for more than four hours (Petcube, 2019). If it’s unavoidable, try to arrange for a trusted friend or neighbour to pop round and, if possible, take the dog for a walk.
Some dog owners can watch their pet from work with a pet camera, others leave the radio on as the human voices can offer the dog reassurance. The RSPCA also advises owners to leave a light on if they do not expect to be back until after dark.
Walking your dog
According to PDSA Paw Report, 2018, 89,000 dogs are never walked. If your dog isn’t active, it will quickly put on weight and its health could suffer. You should therefore aim to take your pet for a walk at least once a day.
Taking your dog to a park or a wood to run off the lead is a great opportunity for it to get some real exercise. Watch your dog carefully though as some dogs will eat rocks and sticks that can get caught in the digestive tract or cause choking.
It’s important to have an appropriate pet insurance policy to cover your dogs for any illnesses, ailments and accidents.
When at home, dog toys are a good way to stimulate and occupy your dog. Your pet should also have something to chew on when it’s quiet, perhaps in its basket.
Take care with chews and toys though as they can also disintegrate and end up in your dog’s tummy. Look instead for special chews at the pet store.
Babies and children
Be careful with your dog around babies and children. Babies make sudden and unfamiliar movements or sounds which can cause your dog to snap. Children, too, do not always understand that a dog does not want to be hugged or kissed – or have its tail pulled.
There is no reason why a dog cannot live perfectly happily with children, but you need to carefully manage the introductions - and never leave a baby or young child alone with a dog.
If your dog displays behavioural problems, such as chewing random objects, persistent barking or inappropriate toileting then it might be suffering from separation anxiety or boredom or something could be lacking in their diet. So it’s worth investigating the causes. Note that puppies will also chew when they are teething.
Animal organisations offer lots of information about teaching your dog to cope with separation anxiety, or you could call in a qualified behaviour expert if the problem persists.
The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) accredits Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourists (CCAB) and its website has lots of information: (www.asab.org). Alternatively, there’s the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) at www.apbc.org.uk
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