Taking care of a dog is a big responsibility, but has many rewards. Dogs are loyal and loving to their family members and provide a way to teach children responsibility. Providing good care for your dog ensures you will enjoy his companionship for many years.
Dogs are carnivores, so choose a high-quality wet or dry dog food that has meat as the main ingredient. Feed the amount designated for his weight on the package twice a day. Avoid feeding scraps from the table, as many foods meant for people will cause illness in dogs. Foods such as chocolate and grapes can cause death quickly because they are toxic to dogs. Make sure there is always plenty of fresh water available, unless you are house training the dog, in which case water should be made available several times a day to prevent urination accidents with all-day access to water.
The best place for him is inside the home with the rest of the family. For dogs who have not learned the rules of behavior in the home yet, being placed in a small, easily cleaned room while not being supervised will keep your home safe. Another alternative is to use a dog crate. Choose one that is large enough for him to stand up, turn around and stretch out in, but no larger. If he must live outside, ensure that the area is completely fenced to keep him safe, and provide plenty of space to roam and shelter from the weather. Place blankets in the dog house for cold and wet weather, and provide plenty of water during the hotter months.
Spay or neuter your dog to prevent unwanted litters, keep health issues caused by reproductive organs away and lessen the chance of him wandering off and being injured. Yearly boosters must be provided by your veterinarian, and yearly check ups can be done at the same time. Needed vaccines include DHPP, which prevents common canine diseases such as parvo and distemper, rabies and bordatella.
Training your dog to follow basic commands and know that you are the leader will prevent problem behavior that will take the joy out of having a dog in your family. Basic obedience classes are inexpensive and a good investment in his future. If he is not housebroken when he joins your family, supervise him closely and restrict him to one small room or crate when you cannot watch him. Take him outdoors every two hours and after eating, and praise him heavily when he voids outdoors.