Owning a dog is a great responsibility. First and foremost, you must take care of your dog and attend to its needs. You do not expect the dog to jump into a tub and take a bath - you take the time and effort to groom him. Your dog will not hunt or scavenge for its own food - you will need to buy dog food, prepare it, and feed it to him. Patience is crucial to your dog's emotional health - he can not learn to behave overnight. Remember, you're the boss, and your dog needs you to guide him.
Your dog's health is top priority. He needs the same basic nutrients that we do, such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Many commercial dog food products contain these nutrients. To know which dog food is best for your pet, check the nutrition labels. A balanced list of nutrients is good for all types of dogs, while dog food with higher levels of protein may be more suitable for active dogs. It's also safe to feed dogs table scraps, such as lean meat, poultry and fish, fruit, and vegetables. Don't feed him from the table though, or else he'll develop a bad habit when he gets bigger.
Grooming is also important. Washing him keeps his coat free of dirt and dead hair, and should be done twice a week (more or less depending on preference and climate conditions). Use warm water and a good dog shampoo to kill fleas, lice, and ticks, but make sure to avoid the eye area - use a damp cloth to clean his face instead. Also make sure to rinse him thoroughly, as not doing so may irritate his skin. Aside from washing, it's also advisable to lip his claws and brush his teeth.
Dogs also love regular exercise, as it keeps them healthy, alert, and happy. Taking him out for early morning walks or playing fetch with him in the park on the weekends is a great way for him to stretch his legs, and you to de-stress, as well. Regular exercise will keep him, and you, free from illnesses caused by sedentary lifestyles, not the least of which is obesity.
When training your dog, give him time to adjust. Stretch your patience, since it takes considerable time before your dog understands what you want him to do. Also, it's important to be consistent - do not pet him when he jumps on the couch, then scold him the next time he does it. With patience and consistency, you'll be surprised to find that he'll one day understand every word you say.
Finally, show some love. Dogs love being petted, talked to, and played with. However, it's important not to pamper him too much, since this might give him the undesirable notion that he's boss and not you, and may start bossing you around when he does. Show some tough love and scold him every time he does something wrong. Don't worry - dogs love pecking orders, and once he recognizes you as his pack leader, he'll be willing to follow you to the bitter end.
Written by Finley Zhang