With a lifespan of 10-13 years, having a dog is a big responsibility. Your loyal doggo buddy will be by your side from day one, so make sure you’ve got their back too by providing the best care you can.
The basics of dog care
If you’re sharing your life with a pawfect pooch, it’s your responsibility to provide all the necessary care.
Exercise and enrichment
Dogs can misbehave if they are bored and have too much energy. Mental and physical stimulation are vital for a happy home so mix up play to keep it interesting.
Dogs need daily exercise, ideally at a designated dog park where they can run free and socialise with other pooches and people. Exercise should be supervised at all times. Here are some more top tips for keeping daily exercise fun:
- Take them swimming.
- Play catch or frisbee.
- Enrol them in a dog obedience club.
- Change the route of your daily walks.
It is important to ensure that your dog is kept busy throughout the day, especially if they are left alone for long periods of time. By offering your dog mentally stimulating and constructive ways to spend their time, you can prevent your dog from engaging in destructive behaviour.
What does a good diet consist of?
- Feed a mix of wet and dry food.
- Make sure your dog is getting meat, vegetables, cereal and the correct levels of vitamins and minerals*.
- Check the packaging.
- Give your dog raw bones – chicken wings and necks are best.
- Provide two bowls of fresh water, especially in summer.
*RSPCA Victoria recommend Royal Canin pet food
- Feed a meat-only diet.
- Don’t give your dog cooked bones.
- No garlic, chives or onions.
- No chocolate or milk.
- No grapes and raisins.
- No persimmon, peaches, plums or apricots.
- No coffee.
- No avocados.
RSPCA Victoria recommends positive reinforcement training (PRT) as the method for training your dog. PRT is all about rewarding good behaviour. This can be with lots of verbal praise, cuddles and tasty treats. Every dog will learn at a different pace so always be patient and remember that your dog wants to make you proud.
Dealing with a naughty pooch
If your dog is misbehaving, redirect them and reward them for better behaviour. For example, if your dog is chewing your furniture, redirect them with a chew toy and give lots of praise.
Help with training
If training isn’t working, contact RSPCA Victoria, your local shelter, veterinary clinic, dog obedience club, or registered dog trainer for advice. Some municipal councils provide a reduced registration fee for dogs that have successfully completed a registered obedience course.
Grooming keeps your dog clean and comfortable. Depending on the breed, you might need to brush them daily, or hardly at all. For dirty, smelly pooches, bathing is needed using specific doggy products. Try not to bathe your dog too often as it can strip the natural oils from their coat and cause skin irritation.
Dogs at the vet
Your dog will need to go to the vet for checkups, treatment and any health concerns throughout their life.
Your first appointment
If you’re taking your dog for their first vet visit, you’ll want to make sure they leave microchipped, up to date with vaccinations, treated for worms and fleas, and with a clean bill of health.
Your dog should be vaccinated against:
- Canine Distemper.
- Canine Infectious Hepatitis.
- Canine Parvovirus.
- Kennel Cough.
Tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworms, name a worm – your dog can get it. Make sure your dog is treated in consultation with your vet.
Very common and difficult to get rid of, fleas are a pain in the tail. Preventative treatment is best, so talk to your vet about the best products available.
Dogs stick their snoots into everything and often get into trouble. Know when to apply basic first aid, call an emergency vet or when you may be able to wait it out.
Your dog will also need regular check-ups and booster vaccinations throughout their life.
Your dog and the law
As a dog owner, you are legally responsible for your pet and could face damages if they:
- Bite someone.
- Kill wildlife.
- Damage property.
- Cause an accident.
- Create noise pollution.
Local government and your dog
Some local governments require your dog to be:
- Leashed in public.
- Properly identified.
- Supervised in public areas.
Many municipalities also prohibit the housing of more than two dogs within the same residence without obtaining prior consent. Contact your local council for more information.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
Dog owners should also be aware of offences under the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. These offences include but are not limited to:
- Abandoning a dog.
- Conveying a dog in circumstances involving cruelty.
- Failure to provide drink, food or shelter for a dog.
- Failure to provide veterinary treatment for a dog that is ill or injured.
- Ill-treating, injuring, tormenting or torturing a dog.
- Killing a dog in a cruel, unlawful, or malicious manner.
If you suspect animal cruelty, report it to the RSPCA or Victorian Police immediately.