1. Dogs are a lifetime responsibility with many living between 12-16 years. It's super-important to pick the right size, age and type of dog for your family and lifestyle.
2. Find that perfect puppy or dog from a responsible shelter, responsible rescue or responsible breeder. Most can find what they're looking for by watching their local shelter web site. Inventories change daily - don't see something you like today, check the shelter tomorrow - there will be a whole new batch to choose from.
3. Don't accidently buy a puppy mill or retail rescue dog. If you decide to go through a breeder, be sure the breeder is responsible - that they care enough to do genetic testing to produce healthy puppies who won't have inherited, medical conditions. And that they are 100 percent certain that their puppies won't end up homeless in a shelter.
4. Transport your dog home safely either in a crate or seat belt, not just on your lap.
5. Get a safe, well-fitting collar and leash.
6. Parvovirus and distemper can kill your dog. Rabies can kill your dog and you. Talk with your veterinarian about a regular vaccination schedule. Know what you need now and during the years to come.
7. Deal with pee and poop by crate training, or have a messy, stinky house for your dog's life.
8. Once your dog is safely vaccinated, take your new dog everywhere. Have him safely meet people of all shapes and sizes. Ask your friends to be nice to your dog and give him treats. It's your job to make sure no person or other animal hurts your dog. This sets him up for a lifetime of happiness.
9. Be a good doggie parent by being consistent about your expectations.
10. Teach your dog basic Canine Good Citizen manners - accepting a stranger, sitting politely, allowing grooming, walking on a loose lead and through a crowd, sitting, lying and staying, coming when called, reacting appropriately to other dogs and distractions and being calm when you're not around.
11. If you don't know how to train your dog, get help. Search for a trainer who uses positive rather than old-school dominance-based training methods. Know what you're getting into by watching them in action. No one will tell you they choke, slam or shock the dog into submission - only you can keep your dog safe.
12. Not sold on training yet? Know that if your dog bites someone, you are legally responsible.
13. The best way for your dog to get home if lost is if he's wearing identification. More is better - make sure he's microchipped, tattooed, and has a name tag and license.
14. Avoid fleas, ticks, dog lice, worms and other nasties. Talk with your veterinarian about a regular parasite prevention program that keeps bugs off our dog, out of your home, and at-bay in our community.
15. Don't have accidental puppies. There are already way too many homeless dogs. Do ask your veterinarian about the best time to sterilize (spay/neuter) your dog, or make sure you're a responsible breeder who does everything right to produce healthy puppies that won't end up in a shelter.
16. Garbage in, garbage out. High-quality foods give you a healthier pet, and there will be less poop to pick up. For beginners, read the label looking for a named animal protein source such as lamb, beef, salmon or chicken, and whole grains such as brown rice or oats. Avoid meat by-products and low-quality carbohydrates such as corn, soy and wheat. If you want to learn more about nutrition, read about the topic including raw and home-made diets.
17 Have a fit healthy dog, not a fat unhealthy, short-lived dog. Make sure you don't overfeed. If you like to give a lot of treats or table scraps, cut back on meal portions.
18. Yucky teeth means yucky breath, dental pain and expensive dental bills. Instead, keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy.
19. Brushing and bathing is a must. Special hair cuts are needed for certain breeds. You can either buy shampoos and cutting equipment and do it yourself or hire a professional groomer to do it for you.
20. Some dogs wear their nails off. Others need regular clipping. If your dog needs their nails trimmed, Here's a great way to teach them
how to learn to love the task.
21. Clean everything. Pick up poop. Wash dog bedding. Wash food and water bowls. Wash toys. And wash your hands after handling food and doing grooming. It's the best way to avoid worms, germs and fleas.
22. A tired dog is a good dog. Make sure they get enough physical and mental exercise for the breed and age so they are happy and don't go stir-crazy. For general health, walks or runs are a must with distance changing with age. Try dog mind games. If you're into group activities, there are a ton of options including agility, rally, flyball, skijoring, dog sledding, tracking, hunting and more.
23. Know what's normal, then watch for medical issues. By doing your own regular doggie check-up, you'll be able to spot and treat health issues early.
24. Know how to do a quick gum check to determine if your dog has a serious illness or injury.
25. Failure to provide veterinary care is a punishable offense. If your dog is sick or injuried, get them looked after.
26. Know how to pet-proof your yard.
27. Keep toys in good repair replacing damaged or small toys to avoid choking issues.
28. Know what people foods are poison to dogs
29. Know what house plants are poisonous to dogs
30. Avoid injuries from heat.
31. Be prepared and know what to do in an emergency by taking a pet first aid class.