Looking after and caring for your dog

The accessories you will need

These are the things that you will need to look after your dog.

The dog’s collar and leash: To source the right size of dog collar to fit your dog you will have to measure its neck and add five centimetres to its neck size. Always make sure that the dog collar fits properly and that it is not too tight. The leash should have a cotton or leather lining and should come with a safety catch. In terms of the length of the leash, the best length for walking and training your dog is between a meter and a half and two meters.

The dog’s kennel or carry-case: This can either be a plastic or metal grille kennel or carry-case and should be big enough so that your dog can stand up and turn around inside. However, it shouldn’t be too big as this could result in the dog using one end of the carry-case to urinate or defecate in and the other end to sleep in. If the dog is from a large breed of dogs you may have to use an adjustable dog kennel or carry-case, so that it can be adapted to suit the dog as it grows and gets older. This is especially important if your dog is still a puppy, as this is when it will grow most quickly. Buy a larger dog kennel or carry-case when required. For the dog’s safety, its carry-case should have sufficient ventilation holes, but these holes should be small enough to ensure that the dog cannot put its head or paws through the holes. The door-grille should close securely so that there is no chance of the dog opening it accidentally while inside. You can put a blanket or a cushion inside for the dog to lie on provided that this is made of safe and easy to clean materials. Do not give your dog food or water inside the dog kennel or carry-case, as this may lead to it doing the toilet inside. It may be a good idea, however, to let your dog have its favourite toy to bite on when it’s inside. A dog kennel or carry-case should never be used as a place where your dog is sent as a punishment.

The dog’s nametag: This should be fastened to the dog’s collar and should include its name, along with your own name and address and telephone number. If your dog ever gets lost, a nametag may be crucial in getting it back.

Microchip: This is the best way of identifying your dog. Implanting this identification system involves no discomfort for the dog and is permanent (it will never get lost, unlike a nametag) and can be easily read using a hand-held scanner. Similarly, you could tattoo your dog for identification purposes, although these days the microchip system is a more popular alternative.

Water and food bowls: Ideally, water and food bowls should be made of stainless steel, as many dogs are allergic to plastic. These bowls should be easy to clean, because you will have to clean them out every day, and they should be held in place by some kind of support structure or else be heavy enough so that the dog cannot overturn them easily.

Grooming kit: Apart from shampoos or other doggie hygiene products, it’s important for you to have the appropriate grooming kit for your dog. This includes the right brushes and combs, as these may vary depending on the type of coat your dog has. You should also have a flea comb.

A suitable space for your dog

Dogs need to have a space of their own in the house, a fixed spot where they can sleep, rest etc., which you should choose and prepare before your dog comes to its new home. It is also important to decide where it is going to eat, and which parts of the house it will be allowed to go into and which parts have to be closed off to it by putting locks on the doors for example.

If you have a house with an outdoor area (garden, terrace, etc.), in addition to what has already been mentioned, you should also:

  • Install, wherever possible a special dog flap for it to use, so it can come in and out whenever it wants to.
  • Make sure it has a doghouse and get it a good quality doggie bed to lie on.
  • If you have a house with a garden where it might be able to escape or run away, and run the risk of getting hurt or injured, surround the garden with wire fencing that gives off a tiny electric shock; this will discourage it from getting too close to it.

Your role and the dog’s habits

Dogs are pack animals that are controlled by the presence of a pack leader. It is important that from the very beginning you are clear on what stance to take in relation to your dog. This leader is a superior member of their pack and is the dog that gives the orders. All the other dogs in the pack take on a submissive role before the pack leader. This is the relationship that, as the dog’s owner, you should foster in order to get the dog to obey you and so you can train it properly. Do not confuse this dominant posture with a violent or aggressive approach towards the dog; never try to train your dog by means of violence as this will have no lasting positive effect on the dog and it will relate to you in terms of the same hostility.

You can deal with it from this superior position in various ways such as setting rules and times for eating, playing etc. Being the creatures of habit that they are, dogs need to have a set time for things (grooming, eating, playing) and you should stick to this same time every day. A dog’s full development and happiness will depend on it having a healthy and regular routine. You should take command from the very beginning, so always walk in front of your dog and always lead the way, starting off before it, etc., and never give in if it begs for food.  Let it move around the house at leisure, although keep a constant eye on it and don’t let it get away with doing things that it shouldn’t do. Tell it “no” when it does something it shouldn’t or whenever it tries to. And on the other hand, don’t forget to reward it whenever it does something good or when it obeys your command.

Preventing accidents around the house

Although it is almost impossible to avoid all forms of domestic accidents, it is possible for you to take some safety precautions to reduce risks as much as possible:

  • Never leave your dog unattended (not even for short periods of time) especially outdoors; there is the risk of it running off, or causing damage.
  • Keep all doors and window that it might be able to reach firmly closed and don’t let it go near balconies or terraced areas on upper floors of tall buildings. When you close doors leading to other rooms, make sure that your dog hasn’t been left inside accidentally.
  • Make sure that detergents, bleach, paints, solvents, fertilizers, disinfectants, mothballs, poison and liquid antifreeze are all kept in places that your dog cannot reach.
  • Make sure that the toilet seat lid is always kept down, as your dog could drink from the toilet bowl or play with the water in the toilet bowl, drink the toilet cleaner or disinfectant, or get injured if the toilet seat lid falls on it.
  • Elastic bands could also be a source of serious injury, as your dog could swallow them and this may lead to digestive problems, or, worse still, it could choke if it gets the elastic band tangled around something.
  • There are a series of household plants such as azalea, daphnia, dieffenbachia, ivy, iris, narcissus, oleander, mistletoe, poinsettia, potato plant, rhododendron, tobacco plant, tulips, fig trees and yew trees that are poisonous to dogs, so keep them well out of their reach.
  • Do not give your dog any form of medication without first checking with your vet, and medication should never be left within your dog’s reach.
  • Small objects such as buttons, bottle tops or pieces of toys should be kept well away from your dog and more so in the case of pointed or sharp objects such as nails, paperclips, safety pins, etc. These could cause injuries to the dog’s mouth or internal organs if it bites into them or swallows them.

Electrical appliances are especially hazardous, so it would be a good idea to unplug electrical cables that may be within your dog’s reach, given that if it were to bite through them, it could be burnt, electrocuted or may even start a fire. It is also a good idea to cover up plugs that are not being used and not to use electrical appliances in the dog’s kennel.

Food

The importance of proteins

Proteins are a basic element in your dog’s diet. They are nutrients and provide essential amino acids and as a result you should give your dog the right amount of proteins that it needs. In the first place it is important to know that a balanced diet should not be based solely or largely on the consumption of meat or, as a result, on the consumption of meat-based proteins. Dogs are omnivorous creatures and vegetables provide them with a series of proteins which, without a doubt, should form part of their diet. Not all proteins are the same.
In fact there are certain amino acids, essential for your dog’s development, which cannot be synthesized by the animal’s metabolism. Pay special attention to making sure that its food contains, and is rich in, essential amino acids and you can check on this by reading the labels on different
dog food products. You should also make sure that these products guarantee a balanced diet.

What type of food to give him

Basically, the types of food you will find in the shops and supermarkets are the moist varieties, semi-moist and dry food or dog biscuits.

Dry food or dog biscuits is most recommended by the experts as this variety is nutritionally the most complete. It has a high calorie content. In terms of proteins, it is the type of food that contains most, at around twenty five percent. Additionally, and in practical terms, it is the cheapest alternative and you can buy it in large amounts and store it for a long time.

Semi-moist food does not contain such a high percentage of proteins, this is around twenty one percent, but they also have less kilocalories. As they have rather a high moisture content they also have a smooth texture, making them easier to chew. Dogs really like this type of food a lot,
both for its taste as well as for its texture. But it is more expensive, and the portions have to be more generous than portions of dry food.

Moist food contains three parts water and has a lower protein content, which is between eight and fifteen percent, depending on the brand. This type of food is preferred by most dogs as it is more tender and tastier. In terms of calories, this type of dog food contains less calories than dry or semi-moist food, for which reason dogs have to eat more of it to get all the calories they need. This type of food has to be stored in the refrigerator once opened and is more expensive.

Armed with this information on dog foods, you can choose the food you want to feed your dog on. But you should also be aware that you cannot make simple comparisons between the contents of one type or another. For example, although moist food has proportionately less proteins, don’t be fooled into thinking that it is better to give your dog dry food because it has more proteins. But rather, what you should do in that case is increase the amount of moist food you give him so that he gets the same amount of proteins from both options. Each of these types of dog food can adequately provide your dog with a complete diet. So, whatever food you choose to give him, what you have to focus on is making sure he gets all the proteins, calories and trace elements it needs, giving it more or less food depending on the type that you choose.

The breed of the dog and its daily routine will also influence your decision. If it is a dog that gets quite a lot of exercise, or better still, if it is a working dog, you can give it more proteins and fats than you would be able to give to a dog that has a more sedentary life, or a dog that doesn’t burn off as much calories, as this could lead to it becoming obese. Although your dog may prefer to eat meaty and moist food, it will also be happy to eat the dry food varieties. Besides, the dry food will also help prevent a build-up of tartar on its teeth.

In reality, another factor in the type of food you give your dog will be how much you can afford to spend on dog food. You will also want to choose a dog food that is easy to find in your local shops.
If you don’t know what type of food to go for, talk to your local vet and ask him for advice.

Playing with your dog

What does playing mean

Playing is exercise: Although there are breeds of dog which, by definition, are more passive than others in this sense, it is clear that no dogs are absolutely sedentary. No matter how little inclined they may be to play, the majority of dogs need physical activity and thoroughly enjoy running
around in the countryside, cavorting, hunting for things, etc., However, as the dog’s owners and the person who has to take it for its exercise, we don’t always have enough time to do this properly. Taking your dog to the country every day or even to the local park, so it can run around and tire itself out, would be very impractical. To make up for this, whenever possible, try to take your dog out for some exercise at weekends and holidays, even if it means only heading down to the local park. If you don’t give your dog the exercise it needs, you will turn it into a dog that is lifeless, lazy, slothful, listless and probably more than a little overweight.

Playing burns up calories: Playing also serves a biological function. Calories are vitally important for every dog, but it is even more important to burn off excess calories. If your dog doesn’t burn off these excess calories it will build up calories and get fat until it becomes an obese and unhealthy dog.

Playing is good fun: your dog, just like you, needs to have some fun from time to time. Boredom is an enemy that could bring out bad behaviour in it. Likewise, a monotonous life is very unhealthy for your dog, so try to play with it regularly while, at the same time, trying to make sure that the games you play with it are as varied as possible.

Playing is motivation: When a dog plays, it is happy because it is involved in an activity that it likes and this will motivate it and will make it a better dog and also a more obedient dog.

Playing is a good way to combat stress: In today’s world most dogs live in flats or houses where they spend the best part of the day cooped up indoors. This creates a certain degree of stress that they need to release. Playing is also the best antidote against this pent-up tension. Running around to their heart’s content, racing off in pursuit of things that you throw for them to fetch and many other activities will give your dog a well-deserved chance to blow off steam and feel more free. It will also make up for all those hours that it is forced to stay indoors without getting a chance to get out. After some physical activity it will feel more relaxed, calmer and happier. You too, after a hard day’s work, will benefit from enjoying a few minutes of fun with your dog.

Playing is interrelating with others: It is very clear that playing with your dog will improve your relationship and will strengthen the bonds between you both. At the same time it will let the dog know its position within the family. it will sense your loyalty towards it and will appreciate the time you spend with it. At the same time you will be reinforcing your role as pack leader as you are the one leading the games, controlling them and setting the rules that are to be followed. In this sense it is important that during the time you spend playing with your dog you do not let it take charge nor call the shots, as this would make it assume a position of leadership. After playing with it, it will be more inclined to obey you.

How and what to play at with your dog

We have already mentioned that it is not easy to find enough time during the week to spend playing with your dog, as it is not always possible to take it for long walks in the country every day etc. Still, you should try to spend at least ten minutes every day playing with it (or maybe less than ten minutes, but playing at more regular intervals throughout the day). Try not to roll all its exercise into a half hour session all on the one day, as perhaps for it this fun time is the highlight of its day and he may be waiting anxiously for it to come around. You can make the most of this situation by taking advantage of any opportunity you get to play with your dog. For example, while you are cooking or browsing through the newspaper, throw something that he can chase after and fetch for fun. Something that should always be taken into consideration is that playing should not involve an element of risk for your dog whether this is in terms of its surroundings, the type of games being played or the dog’s state
of health and age, etc. Given that playing takes on such an important role for your dog, you should try to think up games for it to play with this in mind. This means that these games should have rules and a simple structure so that he can understand what he is supposed to be doing. This way, its games will  have a meaning for it and he will get maximum benefit from them. To achieve this it is important that the game should have a recognisable beginning and ending.

The type of games that you play with your dog may depend on a variety of factors. For example, your dog may have certain preferences (which in turn may depend on the breed of the animal), where you are playing, the age of the dog and its physical characteristics. You should take these aspects into consideration if you do not want to fail or get frustrated in your attempts at trying to teach your dog a special game in particular.  For example, sheepdogs like group games that require them to pay attention; bloodhounds do not like chasing after balls, but, on the other hand, they are crazy about objects that roll along the floor; retrievers will run after, search for and bring things back to you, which is what really fascinates them most of all; etc.

In terms of safety, if your dog is one of those dogs that are bulky in stature but small, like a bulldog for example, don’t let it tire itself out too much as this could lead to heatstroke; or if your dog is a larger dog, try to avoid it coming to a sudden halt or jumping high into the air. Every game will have its most appropriate time and place, which means that if you are playing in the country, for example, you will have much more space to move around in for all those games that need lots of space. And, on the other hand, if you are at home, you will have to change the kind of games you play to suit the space you have as well as your surroundings. Let’s take a look at a few favourite doggie games, some for
playing in the house and others for playing outdoors:

Games you can play in the house (obviously, unless there is something preventing this, these games can also be played outdoors)

  • Fetching objects: To teach your dog this game, first of all tell it to sit. Show it a doggie biscuit or a ball but don’t let it get to it. Then, place this a few meters away from the dog where he can see it and give the command for it to “fetch”. As he can see the object, he’ll get to it quickly and in doing so will have learned how the game works. Then you can really hide the object so that the dog has to go and search for it, starting off by putting it in places that are not too difficult for it to find. This game has the advantage that it can be played indoors as well.
  • Hide and seek: All the family can play. Somebody has to hold the dog while the rest of the family goes off and hides. When everybody is ready, one by one the players call the dog using the command “here boy”. When he finds you, tell it to sit, rewarding it with a doggie biscuit or a treat before another member of the family calls it again. Go through the same routine until he has found everybody. Your dog is bound to get plenty of exercise with this game.
  • Sit: Start the game with everybody letting the dog see that they are happy and excited, singing and dancing for example. When the dog shows that he is interested, tell it to sit using the “sit” command. Change your happy facial expression to one of sadness without making a sound until he obeys the command. When he has done this, put on a happy face and start dancing and singing again then repeat the command for the dog to sit. He will find this great fun because he will associate the act of sitting and obeying the command with the game starting over again and seeing that you are happy again, singing and dancing etc. Playing this game gives the owner and his dog a great opportunity to bond.

Games for playing outdoors

  • Catching doggie biscuits or treats: Standing a few meters away from your dog, throw it a doggie biscuit or a treat for it to catch. Repeat the same action, this time throwing the biscuit or treat a little higher and if it manages to catch it without it touching the ground, let it have it. If, on the other hand, it doesn’t catch it, take it from it and try the trick again, always following the same rules:  if it doesn’t catch it, it doesn’t get to eat it. Or similarly, along the same lines, it can only eat the portion that it manages to catch. This game will help sharpen its reflexes.
  • Playing the choir game: There should be five players or more for this game. Stand in a circle around the dog. The idea is to get the dog to face someone who is in the circle, and this is done at the same time the person it has to face calls out its name. When it gets the hang of this game, each person will call out a name and it has to then face that person. This game, in addition to being a good source of exercise, will teach your dog to recognise all the members of the family by their name.

Games that are not recommended

You should not make the mistake of thinking that any type of game is good for your dog. In the same way that certain games can benefit a dog’s behaviour and well-being, which means that they are constructive, there are also games or activities that can change a dog’s behaviour, bringing out its aggressive side which will have no lasting benefit for the animal. A priority factor in playing with your dog is that you should always be in control of the situation, even when you are having fun with it, and likewise you should let it run free and pretend you are following it, for example, or that you are chasing after it because it has picked up something that it shouldn’t have. In this case, don’t pay any attention to it – as it will then take on a position of dominance – until it returns what it is that it shouldn’t have picked up in the first place.

Some aspects on training

Taking care of your dog’s basic needs

The most important thing to bear in mind here is that your dog should have a set time for its meals. If you feed it every day at the same time, its digestive process will be regular and it will want to go and “do its business” after it has eaten. After it has its meals, take it out for a walk, and always lead it to the same spot. Stand by its side and say to it happily “come on boy” or “come on, pee-pee time” so that it learns to associate these words with doing its business. Once it has finished, tell it that it has been a good dog and head home. So it doesn’t get confused, don’t make these walks too long. Your dog may want to urinate or defecate as soon as it wakes up in the morning, after its afternoon nap, whenever it has a drink of water, after playing or before going to bed last thing at night. If you have more than one door leading out of the house, you should always use the same door to take it out, so that it can warn you by sniffing or scratching at the door whenever it needs to do its business.

Take it out of its kennel every morning and walk it with its leash on so that it can take care of its basic needs; then give it a reward. If you take it out regularly or after every mealtime it will have no need to do its business indoors. While it is learning this routine, don’t let it run around the house unsupervised, and if you have to leave it on its own make sure it is in a room that is easy to clean, such as the bathroom. Don’t leave your dog on its own for more than eight hours at a time as this will cause problems in terms of its exercise and learning social skills. It is likely that your dog will get caught out from time to time and have to urinate or defecate indoors. Contrary to what you may often have heard, it is not a good idea to punish it for this by rubbing its nose in its own dirt, nor yelling at it, nor hitting it, nor throwing it out of the house; this form of punishment may only confuse it. What you should do in these circumstances is take it to where it has soiled and say “no” in a low but firm tone of voice. Dry it off with a piece of paper and lead it, using the paper, to where it should go to the toilet. If you watch over it, the dog won’t get a chance to soil indoors, but if you see that it is getting ready to do its business in the house, just tell it “no” and lead it to where it is supposed to go to do it.

If, after following these instructions, your dog is still urinating or defecating in the house, as though it were marking its territory, then have a talk with your local vet as this may be the result of a rebellious nature or perhaps due to a behavioural problem.

Dealing with certain forms of problematic behaviour or situations

It is quite likely that your dog will develop some of the following bad habits or forms of behaviour that we are going to mention, as these are the most frequent. The most important thing you have to do is try to work out why it is behaving in this way and, without a doubt, sort out the underlying problem behind its behaviour.

If it chews up something that it shouldn’t: Dogs really love chewing on things, it’s instinctive. They do this especially when their new teeth are coming through, to try to soothe their sore gums. Chewing on the wrong things is not a good habit in a dog and, as such, you should try to get rid of this bad habit before it leads to further problems. If you surprise it chewing on something that it shouldn’t be chewing, point this out to it by saying “no” or “hey there”, while using its toys to divert its attention. Stroke it and tell it in a loud and happy tone that it has been a “good boy” once it starts chewing on its toys. You should also bear in mind that if you find it funny when it chews on something that is “forbidden”, and if you let it get away with this, because it is old or broken for example, it will not understand why you scold it at other times for doing the same thing with something that may be new or more expensive. As far as your dog is concerned, the two things are basically the same. For this
reason, you should never let it get away with chewing anything that is not your dog’s. You can buy products that smell or taste bad, though non-harmful to your dog, to spray on furniture or objects that you don’t want it to chew on or bite. If you choose to use these products, make sure that they are suitable and safe both for your dog as well as for your furniture.

If it growls or bites: You should discourage this behaviour. An adult dog that bites does so because it wasn’t properly trained as a puppy. Never trust a dog that is known to have bitten in the past. If it growls, tie it up using its leash and tell it “no”, then carry on playing with it. If it doesn’t stop growling, stop playing with it for the time being.

If it barks a lot: Dogs always bark for a good reason. Your dog may be barking because it is bored or stressed, because it is protecting its territory or because it is trying to get your attention. What it boils down to is that barking is its way of communicating with you. Correct it if it is barking too much by telling it to “be quiet” in a low voice. You can stop it from barking so much by rewarding it when it doesn’t bark and take a couple of minutes every day to make sure it gets enough exercise. If it continues to bark a lot, tie it up using its leash and repeat the command for it to “be quiet” while getting it to sit and stay in that position. Then you can reward it. If it barks when you go out, leave its toys for it to play with as this should keep it occupied for a while.

If it has the bad habit of begging for food: Don’t give it food when you are eating at the dinner table as it will always want you to do this. Feed it before you sit down to eat and ignore it if it sits by the dinner table. If it begs for food, just say “no”. You may have to take it to its kennel or teach it to go and lie down in its bed while you are eating.

If it rummages through the rubbish: When a dog is searching out its quarry, it is securing its territory, which is something that will make correcting this problem more difficult. To correct the problem, however, take your dog out for walks using a long leash so it can wander off and have a rummage around on its own. And when it gets to the end of the leash’s run, tug on the leash and say “no”. it will soon learn after this is repeated several times. It may also be a good idea to put some spicy food in the rubbish to discourage it from rummaging through it in the future.

If it digs holes in the ground: It may be doing this because it is too hot and is looking for a cool spot to lie down in. On the other hand, it may be bored or may be doing this because it wants to bury something or because it is attracted by the smell of something in the soil. Whenever you see it digging holes in the ground, tell it “no” and play with it to take its mind off what it was doing. It is important for it to have a constant supply of fresh drinking water (not too cold) to quench its thirst. And it is equally important for it to play regularly, as this will keep it occupied and give it the exercise it needs to stop it from developing these bad habits.

If it tries to run away: Show it the garden boundaries or the area that it shouldn’t go beyond. To teach it these boundary limits, walk it around the perimeter of this area wearing its leash and tell it “no”, making it back away every time it goes beyond these boundaries. Even so, the best thing to do is to block off the area that it shouldn’t go beyond or tie it up with its leash when you are out of the house.

Specific Commands

You can teach a dog to do many things. But to do this it will have to first learn a series of basic commands without which it will be impossible to get it to learn to do other things. Getting it to come to you: call it while it is eating by saying the word “here”, and reward it immediately when it comes to you. Get it to follow you when you say the word “here” followed by its name. The “leash” method: sit on the floor just a few meters away from your dog, who should be wearing its leash. In a jovial tone, say the word “here” followed by its name and gently tug on its leash. Greet it on your knees with open arms. When it comes to you it might be very happy and may jump all over you or even urinate from sheer excitement. Don’t chastise it for this right away, let it show you how happy it is and then make it sit once it has come to you.

Getting it to sit: Hold up a doggie biscuit for your dog to see, just about level with the dog’s head, while saying the word “sit”. Move the doggie biscuit to just above its head and then move it backwards towards its neck while it is sitting. Reward it with the doggie biscuit.

The “leash” method: Position the dog on your left-hand side and hold its leash in your right hand. With your left hand, press down on its rump while gently pulling the leash upwards. While you are pulling on the leash say the word “sit”. Reward it when it sits. Then give it the command while pulling on the leash but this time without pressing down on its rump. Once it gets the hang of this exercise do it again this time only giving the command so that it learns to obey it.

Getting it to lie down: From the sitting position say the words “lie down” while using a piece of food, a toy or your hand to entice it to lower its snout towards the floor. Then, as you take your hand away, or as you remove the food or the toy, it will follow it. Reward it when it adopts the posture that you are looking for.

Getting it to stand still: With the dog on your left-hand side, hold its leash above its head, tugging on it just enough to get it to stand still. Place your raised left hand, with your palm facing outwards and your fingers together, beside its snout and say the word “stop”. Place your right foot in front of it so that it can’t move. Repeat this step, moving one or two paces away from the dog each time. If it moves towards you repeat the command while you move towards it and raise your two hands with your palms facing the dog. If it moves towards you or starts to move away, don’t call it back: physically bring it back and start again without moving too far from the same spot to begin with.

Getting it to stay by your side: With your dog by your left-hand side, take a step forward with your left foot. If it doesn’t move, tug gently on the leash then call its name and say the word “side” while turning to the right. The dog will stay behind you and will follow your lead and come to your side. Reward it for this. If it moves off, leave it and it will come back to you when it gets to the end of its leash. You could try using a doggie treat or its favourite toy to get its attention and motivate it. Every time you stop, say the word “sit”; in the end it will learn to do this automatically.

A few home-spun tricks

The following commands are the most basic commands that every dog should be familiar with and obey, but naturally you can teach your dog many other things as well. Your dog’s ability to learn is not limited to what we have explained here and you can teach it more complex tricks and commands such as the following for example:

Getting it to fetch your slippers: First of all your dog has to associate the word slipper with your slippers. Teach it to fetch your slippers using some old slippers, as until it learns what it has to do with them it will only want to play with the slippers; it will bite them and won’t want to let you take them from it. Start off by throwing the slippers a few meters away from the dog and tell it to go fetch and bring you the slippers. When it does this, reward it and go through the same routine again, this time putting the slippers in another place, making it more difficult for the dog to find them. Once the dog gets the hang of the exercise it will do it every time you ask it to fetch your slippers and it will feel happy when it knows that it has pleased you.

Getting it to turn on the light: This will come in handy if you ever find yourself unable to turn on the lights yourself, perhaps because you are unable to move around (when you have a broken leg, for example) or simply when it gets dark in the evenings. Dogs can find their way around better than humans in the dark and if they know where the switch is they will find it without any apparent difficulty. To teach your dog this trick, get it to stand with its front paws on the wall beside the light switch (of course, it will have to be tall enough to reach up to the switch). Once it gets the hang of this routine, reward it. Touch the light switch with your hand and then take the dog’s paw in your hand so that it can touch the light switch as well. Turn off the light and when you turn the light back on again, tell the dog to turn on the light and reward it for its efforts. It will take a couple of run-throughs for it to pick up the trick, and every time you tell it to turn on the light, it will do just that.

Getting it to wave bye-bye: This is a trick that is easier to do with smaller dogs as they have to lift up their front paws, but larger dogs can do it just as well. Get your dog to sit in front of you and hold a doggie biscuit or a treat just above its head in front of it. it will raise its front paws to try to get hold of the biscuit or treat and will keep its balance. Then you can give it the biscuit or treat as its reward. Once it has learned to keep its balance with its paws raised, put your hand out so that it can put its paw in your hand. When it does this, greet it by saying the words “say hello” and giving it its reward. Put your hand out a little further each time to get it to stand on its hind legs properly. Besides interacting with your dog, your guests will be very impressed by how well trained it is, you will feel very proud of it and it will be glad to see that you are so proud of it.

The importance of keeping your dog clean

Combing and brushing your dog properly

Basically combing and brushing your dog is an easy and enjoyable task, given that most dogs like being brushed. The basic kit that you will need is the following: a brush for slicking back the dog’s hair, a brush with natural bristles, a steel comb with broad tines and, depending on the dog’s hair type, a rubber tined brush and a chamois leather to make its coat shine. The form of brushing will depend on the breed of dog. Let’s take a closer look at the different types: Short-haired varieties: these should be brushed between two and three times a week and special care and attention should be given to eliminating tangled hair using a brush to slick back the dog’s coat. Use a brush to detangle any clumps of hair and then, with a bristle brush, brush the coat out thoroughly. For dogs with very short and smooth hair you can wipe them down with a chamois leather or a rubber-coated brush to make their coat shine. With terriers, for example, you will have to remove dead hair from time to time to maintain a healthy-looking coat.  Long-haired varieties: brush these dogs every day with a natural bristle brush and detangle any knots in their hair with a broad tined comb. Be particularly careful not to tug on their hair, holding the hair down with one hand as you brush with the other.

Medium-long, shaggy or curly varieties: these dogs should be brushed with a steel tined brush and combed using a broad tined comb with rounded tips.

Bathing your dog

Bath your dog only when this is necessary, as its skin and coat can become dry if it is bathed too often.


Advice and precautions on bathing your dog: do not bath your dog more than once a month, unless this is absolutely necessary. Using  lukewarm water and shampoos specially formulated for dogs, rinse it off twice to avoid skin irritations caused by left-over soapsuds which could lead to it scratching itself. Dry it with a towel and, to avoid it shaking vigorously to get rid of excess water, use a hairdryer to finish drying it off. Take special care over its ears, putting some cotton wool in them, and drying them well after bathing. In cold weather, or if an additional bath is required, a good alternative to the traditional bath is dry shampooing. The shampoo used in dry shampooing is applied and removed with a good quality brush which, in addition, is good for its health as it stimulates the sebaceous glands and this in turn is good for the dog’s coat.

Taking care of your dog’s eyes

A dog’s eyes should be clean and bright, with no mucous or other stains. Sleep secretions that build up around the eyes can be removed using a piece of moistened gauze. If you notice that your dog’s eyes are weeping slightly, this is normal. But if the weeping starts to become intense, if your dog’s eyes become puffy or if he starts blinking a lot, talk to your local vet.

A few home-spun tricks

The following commands are the most basic commands that every dog should be familiar with and obey, but naturally you can teach your dog many other things as well. Your dog’s ability to learn is not limited to what we have explained here and you can teach it more complex tricks and commands such as the following for example:

Getting it to fetch your slippers: First of all your dog has to associate the word slipper with your slippers. Teach it to fetch your slippers using some old slippers, as until it learns what it has to do with them it will only want to play with the slippers; it will bite them and won’t want to let you take them from it. Start off by throwing the slippers a few meters away from the dog and tell it to go fetch and bring you the slippers. When it does this, reward it and go through the same routine again, this time putting the slippers in another place, making it more difficult for the dog to find them. Once the dog gets the hang of the exercise it will do it every time you ask it to fetch your slippers and it will feel happy when it knows that it has pleased you.

Getting it to turn on the light: This will come in handy if you ever find yourself unable to turn on the lights yourself, perhaps because you are unable to move around (when you have a broken leg, for example) or simply when it gets dark in the evenings. Dogs can find their way around better than humans in the dark and if they know where the switch is they will find it without any apparent difficulty. To teach your dog this trick, get it to stand with its front paws on the wall beside the light switch (of course, it will have to be tall enough to reach up to the switch). Once it gets the hang of this routine, reward it. Touch the light switch with your hand and then take the dog’s paw in your hand so that it can touch the light switch as well. Turn off the light and when you turn the light back on again, tell the dog to turn on the light and reward it for its efforts. It will take a couple of run-throughs for it to pick up the trick, and every time you tell it to turn on the light, it will do just that.

Getting it to wave bye-bye: This is a trick that is easier to do with smaller dogs as they have to lift up their front paws, but larger dogs can do it just as well. Get your dog to sit in front of you and hold a doggie biscuit or a treat just above its head in front of it. it will raise its front paws to try to get hold of the biscuit or treat and will keep its balance. Then you can give it the biscuit or treat as its reward. Once it has learned to keep its balance with its paws raised, put your hand out so that it can put its paw in your hand. When it does this, greet it by saying the words “say hello” and giving it its reward. Put your hand out a little further each time to get it to stand on its hind legs properly. Besides interacting with your dog, your guests will be very impressed by how well trained it is, you will feel very proud of it and it will be glad to see that you are so proud of it.

Keeping your dog healthy and in good shape

Your dog’s routine visit to the vet

When you take your dog to the vet, you should try to give the vet all the information about your dog that you think is important so he has as much information on the animal as possible. The check-ups at the vet’s are necessary for the vet to give your dog its vaccinations, listening to its heart and lungs, examining its abdomen and taking a look at the condition of its coat, as well as checking up on its teeth and gums, eyes, ears, and its appearance in general. Its faeces may also be analysed to make sure that it doesn’t have intestinal parasites, and it may even get a full dental check-up.

Home checks

Regular good hygiene habits will let you pick up on any irregularities in your dog’s health so special attention should be paid when cleaning its eyes, ears and teeth – as mentioned in the section on hygiene – so you can make sure it is in good shape. You should also look at:

Body and coat: check to make sure that your dog’s body and coat is healthy by running your hand over its flank and paying particular attention to any lumps or strange-feeling patches that you come across. Take a close look at the roots of its hair to check for parasites.

Paws: your dog’s paws should look normal and should not be swollen or have a strange appearance. Also check the area between its toes as this is prone to fungal infections and parasitic infestations.

Nose: this should be damp and mucous-free.

Rectum: you should regularly check for any abnormal signs or if you see your dog trying to scratch itself here, as this could indicate that it has parasites. Apart from the visible effects, if your dog gets sick you will see changes in its behaviour or some other symptoms. Let’s have a look at what these
could be:

  • It has a fever
  • It goes for more than a whole day without wanting to eat
  • It has diarrhoea, is constipated, has difficulty in urinating or defecating or passes blood when doing so
  • Vomiting
  • It is in severe pain, or continual discomfort
  • It pants excessively or has difficulty breathing (its tongue turns blue)
  • It coughs or sneezes excessively
  • It shakes its head (this may be due to a problem with its ears)
  • It suddenly limps for no apparent reason
  • It scratches or bites itself
  • It behaves aggressively
  • It hides and is easily frightened
  • It has bad breath

This is not a complete list of possible symptoms, so make sure you talk to your vet if you notice anything abnormal or if you suspect that something may be wrong with your dog.

Parasites

Unfortunately, parasites are a very frequent form of torture for animals. They can start to have a negative effect on animals from when they are very young or even before the animal is born, so from the start it will be an aspect that you will have to keep a close eye on. As with everything, prevention is the best cure. And if you don’t manage to prevent your dog picking up parasites in time, getting rid of them may be very difficult. Prevention is essential for your dog’s sake as well as for your own, as there are some parasites that can affect humans as well.

Types of parasites

  • Internal parasites: These are found in the digestive tract and you will need to analyse your dog’s faeces in order to detect these parasites.They can be treated from an early age and the anti-parasitic treatment can be repeated according to instructions from your vet
  • Ancylostoma: This is transmitted during the gestation and lactation period, and is the most dangerous of the intestinal type of parasites. The symptoms that are produced are lethargy, anaemia, loss of appetite, and black faeces or faeces that has traces of blood.
  • Tapeworm: This is reproduced through swallowing a flea or can be picked up from rodents. The worms feed on what the dog eats in such a way that the dog is unable to put on weight.
  • Roundworm: This is detected if the abdomen is distended and can also be detected in the faeces. It could cause abnormal growth, vomiting, diarrhoea or pneumonia, although symptoms are not always produced.
  • Trichinella: The condition known as Trichinosis causes chronic inflammation of the intestine, which is where this larvae establishes itself, as well as faeces covered in mucous, loss of weight and diarrhoea.
  • Coccidia: This condition can be avoided by not giving your dog raw or rare meat. If your dog has these microbes in his intestine he will show symptoms of diarrhoea, fever and loss of appetite and weight loss, although as in the case of other disorders, the dog may not necessary show symptoms.
  • Dog heart worm: This is a very dangerous parasite, difficult to eradicate but easy to prevent, which is something that is very worthwhile doing. It is transmitted through a mosquito bite and lives mainly in the heart.
  • External parasites: These can be found by examining the dog’s coat.
  • Fleas: These can be picked up from the surrounding environment or from the dog’s mother. You will know if your dog has fleas as it will scratch and bite at itself quite often, or if it has red stains on its skin or black dots in its fur around its neck or back. Fleas can cause allergic dermatitis, which appears as scab-covered sores. As fleas spend half of their lives on the dog’s body, the best way to prevent them is by treating the dog and where it lives at the same time. You can get rid of fleas in several different ways: sprays, powders, pipettes, etc. provided that these products are suitable for use on dogs. Ask your local vet for more precise information as mixing different chemical products could be hazardous. Wash the dog’s bedding thoroughly in hot water and, if the vet recommends doing so, spray the bedding with a flea spray. Clean carpets thoroughly, vacuuming them and throwing away the dust bag from the acuum cleaner after vacuuming. If you can’t get rid of the fleas call in a specialist pest control expert.
  • Ticks: A bite from a tick can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease and other diseases. If you live in a region where ticks are prevalent, ask your vet for more detailed information. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it quickly and carefully – wear gloves and use tweezers. It is important to remove the head. Disinfect the affected area with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and ask your vet if further treatment is required.
  • Lice: These can be easily controlled using flea sprays or other flea repellent products that are suitable for use on dogs.
  • Mange: There are two types of this condition, the sarcoptic and the demodectic types. The first of these produces an irritating itch, which results in the dog scratching himself a lot; the skin becomes dry and wrinkled, the hair falls out and scabs appear on the surface of the skin. It is highly contagious even for people, so you should take your dog to the vet as soon as you discover that he has this condition. The second variety can provoke symptoms ranging from stains on the skin to pustules. You should also take your dog to the vet as soon as you find signs of this variety of mange. Both of these types of mange, apart from being highly contagious, are very difficult to treat.
  • Ear mites: These cause itching inside the ears and cause dogs to scratch or shake their head from side to side. Ear mites look like blackishcoloured earwax, dry blood or grains of coffee. This condition should be treated by a vet.
  • Ringworm: This is highly contagious and can be transmitted to humans. Ringworms are produced by a fungus and can be detected as they leave oval-shaped stains or bald spots on the dog’s skin. To prevent this condition you should avoid contact with other dogs. Ringworm can be treated with special medication prescribed by your vet.

Vaccinations

Canine diseases are picked up very easily and although pups get antibodies from their mothers during lactation, these antibodies are insufficient as the pups lose them at between 6 and 16 weeks old. For this reason dogs have to be vaccinated. Vaccines contain a very small dose of the disease that the dog is being vaccinated against which stimulates their body into producing its own defences or antibodies. Your vet will tell you when to vaccinate your dog. The majority of vaccines are given in several doses when pups are between six and sixteen weeks old. From then on, you should vaccinate your dog every year.

Neutering

Careful consideration should be given to the option of neutering your dog unless you actually want to raise pups, or in the case of your dog being a pedigree for example. Neutering is a good solution to prevent increasing numbers of abandoned dogs or animals in dog pounds that have to be put down because nobody wants them.

Sterilisation in female dogs
You should take the decision to have your dog sterilised before she goes into heat for the first time. This surgical procedure, which involves removing the uterus and ovaries, requires a general anaesthetic given that it is done through abdominal surgery and your dog will have to spend
a couple of days at the vet’s for observation. Following surgery, your dog will no longer have a  menstrual cycle and will probably be less likely to suffer from health problems such as breast tumours and urinary infections, etc. If a female dog is not sterilised she will require much more care and attention.

Castration in male dogs

This is quite a safe surgical procedure that your dog will quickly recover from, and involves removing the dog’s testicles. Your vet will inform you of the best time to have this procedure carried out. Besides minimising the risk of prostate cancer or infections in the prostate, it may also produce a change in your dog’s character, making it more docile.

How to medicate your dog

You may not know how to go about giving your dog its medicine the first time you have to do this. You could try mixing it in with its food, though this is not a very good idea as it might be able to detect the medicine because of its different taste and may refuse to eat at all – with the result being that it gets neither its food nor the medicine. It is better to learn how to give it the medicine separately from its food. If you have to give it a tablet or a capsule, tilt its head back, open its mouth and place the tablet at the end of its tongue. Then close its mouth and wait until it swallows while stroking its throat.

If you have to give it a cough syrup or medicine in liquid form, tilt its head back and if required use a syringe to squirt the medicine into its mouth – squirting it in through the gap between its cheeks and teeth. If you stroke the dog’s throat this will stimulate it to swallow

First Aid Tips

Basic advice

Basic advice
If your dog has an accident or suddenly becomes ill, the first thing you should do is keep calm. Keep the telephone numbers of the vet or emergency veterinary clinic handy in case it is necessary to call to get First Aid instructions before taking your dog to the vet. You should also have the telephone numbers of the Toxicology Service in case your dog has swallowed a toxic substance.

Basic First Aid kit

To carry out any First Aid procedures you will need a First Aid kit containing:

  • Medicines prescribed by your vet (these medicines should be administered only if your vet tells you to do so).
  • Sterile syringes, gauze bandages, sticking plasters and cotton wool.
  • Antiseptic disinfectant (hydrogen peroxide) to disinfect grazes and scratches
  • Rectal thermometer (it is important that you know how to use this properly)
  • Tweezers to remove splinters of glass, thorns or ticks

How to react if your dog gets injured
It is important to put a muzzle on the dog (before attempting to attend to its wounds) given that it may bite due to being in severe discomfort or pain. Never use a muzzle if your dog is vomiting or having difficulty breathing. If you don’t have a muzzle, you could use a scarf, a dishcloth or a bandage as a substitute: wrap the bandage around its snout and tie it in a knot under its chin. Then wrap the bandage around its ears and tie it in another knot.

How to move your dog
If you think that your dog has an internal injury, carefully place it on a board, blanket, jacket or something similar to act as a makeshift stretcher. If the dog has minor injuries, you can transport it by laying it across one arm to support its hind legs, belly and chest; use your other arm to support its head and neck. If the dog is bigger, bend down and wrap one arm around its hind legs and scoop it up into your arms. If you have to take the dog to the vet’s by car, it is a good idea to have somebody go with you to hold the dog while you are driving.

How to bandage your dog’s wounds

Put a piece of sterile gauze (moistened in cold water) on your dog’s wound and wrap a bandage around the gauze; use a sticking plaster to holdthe gauze and bandage in place until you get to the vet’s surgery. Cotton wool should never be used directly on an open wound as pieces of
cotton from this could be left behind after the cotton wool is removed.

How to spot problems and what to do in cases of ...

Don’t forget that these First Aid tips are only makeshift until you get to the vet and get your dog checked out properly. They should not be taken as a definitive treatment or remedy.

Allergic reactions
Your dog’s symptoms can range from runny eyes, itching around the eyes, a puffy face or sneezing and may even include respiratory problems, collapsing and loss of consciousness. If the allergy seems to be getting worse the dog should be taken to the vet immediately.

Haemorrhaging and bleeding
If your dog is losing a lot of blood it may become unconscious. To avoid this from happening, and to prevent any further loss of blood, wrap a bandage around the wound. If the bleeding is excessive or if it does not stop even after putting on a bandage, the dog should be taken to the vet as soon as possible.

Respiratory problems

If you notice that your dog is panting, that it is making a noise when breathing or has any other symptoms such as a blue tongue, it should be taken to the vet without delay.

Fractures and broken bones

Check to see if the fracture is bleeding and try to immobilise the dog. If you have to lift it and move it far, make sure that the fracture is wrapped in cotton wool; use a stick, a rolled up newspaper or something similar to wrap around the dog’s leg or paw to prevent it from moving and carefully wrap a bandage around the affected area.

Burns
If your dog has received first degree burns, which means reddened skin and a singed coat, dab on a special pomade for burns. If the burns have been produced by a chemical product, wash the skin with plenty of water for 10 to 15 minutes before taking the dog to the vet.

Asphyxia
If your dog has something stuck in its throat that is causing it to gag, try to remove the obstruction: keep the dog’s mouth open and tilt its head back. Try to remove the obstruction carefully with your fingers. If this is not successful, kneel behind the dog and wrap your arms around its ribs. Close your arms around the dog and squeeze it tightly once or twice: pressing vigorously but not too hard. If this fails to dislodge the obstruction, the dog should be taken to the vet as quickly as possible.

Choking
In the event of your dog choking, the best thing you can do is take it to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Never try to carry out a recovery procedure if you do not know how this procedure is properly done. What you can do, for example, while you are taking your dog to
the vet, is position the dog with its head facing upwards for ten or fifteen seconds and see if this helps.

Electric shock
In the event of your dog biting through an electrical cable or being electrocuted through getting an electric shock from a plug or an electrical appliance, the first thing that you should do is turn off the electricity at the mains as quickly as you can. Then separate the dog from the source of electrocution without touching it directly; look around you for a stick or something similar that you can use for this purpose. It will probably have severe burns; this could be very serious and may lead to respiratory insufficiency or other conditions. In all events the dog should be taken to the vet as quickly as possible.

Eye injury
If you see that your dog has something in its eye or that it is trying to scratch its eyes, the first thing you should do is prevent it from hurting itself further through trying to get it out by itself. Do not try to remove anything the dog might have in its eye yourself as this could lead to you causing further injury. Take the dog to the vet.

Freezing
It is not unusual for parts of a dog’s body to become frozen in severe cold weather; this applies to the pads on the dog’s paws, the paws themselves, ears or tail. If you see that your dog is in pain, that its skin has become red and shiny, move it to a warm place as quickly as possible, covering the frozen parts with a cloth moistened in warm water. After a short while, moisten the cloth again in warm water and put it on the affected area until you see that the skin has regained its normal appearance. After carrying out these urgent measures, take the dog to the vet to make sure that no serious injuries have been caused.

Heatstroke
Dogs do not regulate body heat through perspiration, given that they have very few sweat glands; they can only bring their body temperature down by panting. In a hot and unventilated environment, a dog’s body temperature can increase excessively, so these situations should be avoided. If your dog is panting heavily or if it has a high fever and collapses, try to lower its body temperature by submerging it in cold water up to its neck or hosing it down with a garden hose for about ten minutes. You could also place some ice on the dog’s head and as soon as its temperature starts to come down, take it to the vet.

Poisoning
Although the symptoms of poisoning will vary depending on the poison that is ingested, you should check to see if the dog’s co-ordination has been affected, if it has severe vomiting or diarrhoea or if it is agitated or having convulsions. In any of these circumstances, you should call your local Toxicology Service or vet; they will need to know the substance that has caused the poisoning so it can be properly treated. You should never attempt to make the dog vomit unless otherwise instructed to do so by a vet, as some poisons have a worse effect when vomited. Contact your vet immediately for advice and if you have the bottle or container that the poison was in, take this along with you.

Shock
A state of shock is produced when the body reacts to something unpleasant. The blood flow to the brain and other vital organs is reduced, making this a very dangerous condition. An increase in heart rate and breathing is produced, with the gums becoming pale and turning cold. In the event of this happening, raise the dog’s hind legs so that they are slightly higher than its head, wrap it up in warm clothing or a blanket and take the dog to the vet immediately.

Swallowing objects
If your dog has swallowed something that it cannot digest, do not try to make it vomit as this could cause more serious injuries. Take the dog to the vet.

Traveling with your dog

Consulting With The Veterinarian Before And After Your Trip

It is advisable to consult with a vet about the following:
The itinerary and destination of your trip: It is important to tell the vet exactly where you plan to travel and which route you will take so that your dog can be vaccinated against illnesses or diseases if necessary.

Your dog’s legal identification and registration: 
All dog’s should wear a collar marked with the owner’s name and telephone number, which can be essential for the recovery of your dog should it go astray, though it obviously does not protect against theft. In Spain, another useful tool for returning lost dogs to their homes is the census of all registered animals and their owners. The procedures for legally identifying and registering pets are carried out by veterinarians.

Vaccine charts and veterinarian certificates: Because they expire, it is important to ensure that their validity will last throughout the duration of your trip. In some countries it is mandatory to have these documents translated into the national language, so it is a good idea to call the embassy prior to departure to inquire about this matter.

Medicine, sedatives and travel sickness pills: Ask the veterinarian for a prescription should your dog require medication to manage any travel related symptoms. Make sure you have enough of any medicines your dog is taking to cover the entire trip. It is advisable to pay a visit to the veterinarian after returning home so that your dog can be examined and to check whether it has picked up
any parasites -internal (worms) or external (lice or ticks)- during the trip.

What to Pack When Traveling with Your Dog

Remember to pack your dog’s personal hygiene products, its leash and muzzle (in some places dogs are only allowed if they are muzzled), food and water and containers for storing them, a kennel that is suitable for transporting your dog (or if your dog is small, a suitable travel bag or basket), bags for collecting its bowel movements, as well as its toys, which, aside from keeping it distracted, will also make up for the fact that there will be few things in your dog’s environment during the trip that it will be familiar with.

Traveling by Car

The most common and convenient means of transport for travelling with animals is by car because the owner’s can simply pull over and let theirpets out whenever they need to move around and stretch their legs, eat, drink or relieve themselves. If your dog is not used to travelling by car, it is advisable to take it out for short drives before taking it on a long journey. Most small dogs are comfortable travelling in a special travel bag or basket, which keeps them from being jerked around and helps prevent carsickness. Elevate the travel bag or basket in order to reduce the impact of the car’s jolting while it is in motion. Make sure that your dog’s bag or basket is placed in the position that is most comfortable for it – not only for your dog’s sake, but also for the safety of the other travellers.

Large dogs should be harnessed. If you are travelling in a station wagon, it is preferable to place your dog at the back of the car and to block it off with a screen or extendable guard. Owners travelling in cars other than station wagons should place their dog in the backseat, behind the co-pilot and they should keep it fastened with a leash. In Spain, it is illegal for animals to ride unfastened in a car, both in the front and back seat. It is a good idea to place a towel or blanket under your dog, not only to protect the car’s upholstery, but also to make the corner of the car that has been set aside for your dog cosier. Make sure your dog cannot stick its head out of the window, as this could lead to ear infections and conjunctivitis, and dust particles could fly into its eyes, ears and nose. Moreover, too much cold air on the lungs can lead to illness. If it is necessary to leave your dog alone in the car, be sure to park in the shade, especially in summer, and to slightly lower the windows, making sure that your dog cannot stick out its head or get it stuck in the opening. Remember that it needs plenty of oxygen and proper ventilation in order to breathe well. Dogs should not be left in the car for long periods without being checked up on, as the shade could shift and the sunlight can heat the car up to the point that your dog could suffer a heatstroke.

What to Do While on the Road

  • You should stop every two or three hours and let out your dog so it can stretch its legs, drink and relieve itself. Make sure to place it in its bag or basket, or to snap on its leash before opening the door so that it does not run off and risk being run over by another car.
  • You should never put your dog in the boot of the car. Many dogs and cats are claustrophobic, not to mention the fact that the gases and vapours that seep into the boot caused by bad combustion can be lethal.
  • Special care should be taken when stuck in a traffic jam. If the car is at a standstill for too long, your dog could suffer a sunstroke or heatstroke. To avoid this, simply pull off the road periodically and let your dog out for a short walk.

Traveling by Plane

According to IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations, animals can either be taken on the plane as check-in luggage and placed in the hold, or taken on board as carry-on luggage.

Carrying Your Dog on Board: If your dog and its cage weigh a total of under 6 kilos, it is allowed for it to be taken into the passenger cabin as hand luggage. The flight reservations should be made well in advance and the airline should immediately be warned that you plan to carry your dog on board.

Checking-In Your Dog: Animals weighing over 6 kilos should be checked in at the freight terminal at least 3 hours prior to departure. In both cases, you should take all of the necessary measures to ensure that your dog will be comfortable and free of danger during the flight, including avoiding travelling with your dog during times of the year when there are large crowds or it is very hot.
Your dog’s travel bag or basket should meet the following requirements:

  • It should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down in.
  • It should be resistant, have handles, and be smooth on he inside so that it cannot in anyway injure the dog.
  • The bottom should be waterproof and lined with sufficient absorbent material.
  • It should have openings for ventilation on both sides and have rims or the like on the outside to prevent the air flow from being blocked. Your dog’s cage should be clearly and visibly marked wit the words “Live Animal” and there should be arrows indicating its up-right position. You should also attach a note asking anyone who handles the cage to do so with care. The owner’s name, address and telephone number should also be indicated in case the cage goes astray.

What Documents are Required

Most airlines only allow one animal per passenger and require the following documents:

  • Medical documents
  • Public Health card
  • A valid veterinarian certificate stating that the animal is not carrying any contagious diseases and does not suffer from any illnesses that impede it from travelling

Other Means of Transport

Prior to travelling by boat, train or coach, you should check with the company you will be travelling with and inquire whether pets are allowed and what rules must be adhered to. Depending on the company and the route (and on the dog, of course), you can take your dog along either as carry-on or check-in luggage. If you check in your dog, you should make sure that it will be travelling under suitable conditions. As regards taxis, not all drivers allow dogs in their car, although it is mandatory for all taxis to admit guide dogs.

Specific cases calling (for special care)

Caring for Your Pregnant Dog

Although pregnancy is a natural process, your pregnant dog will obviously require special care, not only to keep healthy but also to prevent complications during gestation, as well as to provide the optimum conditions for the normal development of her pups and to ensure that they will be well nourished during lactation.

Considerations to Take into Account Prior to Your Dog’s Pregnancy
As a dog owner, the first consideration that should be taken into account prior to your dog’s pregnancy is whether you are certain that you do in fact want her to rear pups and that, moreover, you are able to provide a suitable home for them. Once you have come to this decision, check with
a professional breeder or veterinarian on how to provide the necessary care, nutrition, etc. for meeting your dog’s needs during the pregnancy. It is important to be well informed of all that having a pregnant dog entails, be it by consulting with a veterinarian or by reading up on the matter. You need to know when the right time for rearing is and when your dog is prepared for motherhood. Age is a key factor. Your dog should be at least one year old and have been in heat at least once. Other considerations to bear in mind are the dog’s physical condition, including weight and fitness. An overweight dog has a greater chance of running into complications during pregnancy. It is also important for the father to be in good health and have an attractive appearance – you obviously would not want a male dog that you are not sure about to father your dog’s pups.

Again, professional breeders can be very helpful in resolving any doubts you might have about this. Another important factor to consider is the compatibility of the male and female, so, to avoid taking any risks, have a veterinarian or professional breeder oversee the selection of your dog’s
mate.

Caring for Your Dog During Pregnancy

From the moment your dog becomes pregnant until she gives birth, she will have special needs in terms of nutrition and exercise that should be met in order for her to have a trouble-free pregnancy and be well prepared for delivery. Canine pregnancies usually lasts nine weeks. During the first six weeks the amount of food your dog takes should not vary much, though the type of food should: the adult dog food your dog is normally given should be replaced by food that is formulated for all life stages, as it will provide her with the caloric intake and protein she needs. Although it is not necessary to alter the amount of food your dog eats during pregnancy, she should be given as much food as she asks for, unless she is overweight. It is not normal for a pregnant dog to eat less than usual, so should
you suspect a drop in her food intake or notice that she is losing weight, it is advisable to moisten her food or give her food that has greater nutrition density. Should her weight loss or lack of appetite go beyond what you would consider to be normal, consult with the veterinarian.

Caring for Your Dog During the Last Weeks of Pregnancy

Pregnant dogs usually begin to gain weight as of the sixth or seventh week, at which time the amount of food she takes should be increased by one fourth of the usual serving. It is important to make sure she always has enough fresh water to drink and that she gets regular, though neither too strenuous nor excessive, exercise.

Preparing for Delivery

After about nine weeks of pregnancy, your dog should be ready to give birth. A noticeable loss of appetite is a good indication that your dog will go into labour in about a day or so. It is a good idea to prepare the place where your dog is to give birth ahead of time. Line a large box with blankets and towels, or even straw, and place it in an area where she will have peace and quiet. Be sure to keep the box clean.

Delivery
It is very important to be well informed and even seek guidance from a professional breeder or veterinarian regarding whelping and what signs of complications to look out for during delivery so that you know what signals warrant contacting the veterinarian. For example, slight bleeding is normal, but heavy haemorrhaging is not. Make sure you are well enough informed to be able to determine whether your dog is in any danger during delivery and whether the birth is taking place normally. The more informed you are, the better you can care for you dog while she is in labour and the more at ease you will feel.

Lactation
Once your dog has successfully given birth, she will have several pups to rear and nourish. During lactation, she will feed them breast milk, which requires all of her strength and energy, so it is essential that she is well nourished during this stage.

Your Pregnant Dog’s Diet During Lactation
Lactation lasts roughly one month, during which time the amount of food your lactating dog is given should be gradually increased, as her pups will require increasingly more of her milk as they grow. At thirty days after delivery, a breastfeeding dog should be eating between two and four
times more food than she did during the pregnancy. Because it is so important for her to eat well, if necessary, she can be encouraged to eat more by moistening her food. Make sure she always has enough fresh water to drink.

Changing the Mother’s Diet Upon Completion of Lactation

After the first month, the time will come for the pups to be weaned, which they will probably start doing by nibbling at the food in their mother’s bowl. Two or three weeks later, when the pups have grown accustomed to solid food, you should intervene and suspend the lactation. This should be a gradual process, which can be done following these steps. On day one, do not give your dog any food; she should only be allowed to drink water. On the following day, she should be fed one fourth of of her normal intake prior to pregnancy. On day three, she should be given half her normal serving, on the next day three fourths of her normal serving, and finally, on the fifth day she should be given normal servings. Should your dog lose a great deal of weight during pregnancy, or should it leave her very weak, she should be fed even greater portions than normal until she has fully returned to her normal weight.

Hardworking Dogs

Firstly, it should be determined whether your dog requires special nourishment to cover its needs according to the tasks it performs or the exercise it engages in. If your dog’s exercise is limited to going out for walks or runs on the weekend and does not tend to excessively exert itself, a normal diet will generally suffice and you can slightly increase the servings on the days it is more active. So the question is, which dogs really require specific nutrition and a special diet? Those dogs which are considered “hardworking dogs”. In other words, hunting, racing, dog sledding or herding dogs. Such activities obviously require much more energy and effort than those engaged in by most city dogs, which do not usually get out of the house much and whose exercise virtually does not go beyond its playtime. Hardworking dogs are constantly running, exerting themselves, crossing rivers and mountainous terrain, etc. As a result, they need to be nourished with food that is rich in nutrition, that is about one fourth protein and is highly caloric. Hardworking dogs often need to eat twice a
day and will usually want to snack while they work, so it is a good idea to always have some extra food on hand  The climatic conditions can also have an influence on the amount of food your dog requires. For example, if it is very cold, your dog will require more food to keep itself warm. A good rule-of-thumb is to increase the amount of food intake by about 7% for every 12 degrees the temperature drops from normal.

Nourishment During Periods of Rest
Nourishing hardworking dogs is a completely different matter during those periods in which they are not working, for they do not need the  pecial nourishment they are required while they are working, as they do not have to exert themselves as much and thus consume less energy. So, what nourishment do they need? One option is to lower the intake of food rich in protein, which will enable your dog to continue with its usual diet and will help to avoid facing the problems related to diet change. This option, however, has a drawback – your dog will probably complain of hunger.
The other alternative, which will satisfy your dog’s appetite, is to decrease the amount of food but not its nutrition density. The downside is that your dog probably prefers one type of food over another and might not like the one you introduce. Regardless of the option you choose, bear in mind that any change to your dog’s diet should always be made gradually, rather than suddenly – never from one day to the next.

Disclaimer: The above information has been provided with the best of our knowledge and information extracted from media. This has been done for mere guidance and first step of information. Please always consult a veterinarian before taking any action based on the above.