Owning a ... dog
Food and housing
You can feed your dog on either canned food or a complete dry food. When feeding meat, the amount needed depends on the weight of your dog. A medium sized dog (around 20kg) will eat one 400g can of dog meat each day. The meat should be topped with mixer (a dry, biscuity mix), about 2 handfuls for a medium sized dog. Usually, an adult dog will only need one meal a day, fed at midday. Personally, I feed my dog with a small helping of a dry complete food morning and night, with his main meat meal in the middle of the day. If you are only feeding your dog once a day, make sure that you are feeding him enough.
If you opt for a completely dry diet, it is probably best to feed the required daily amount over three meals, morning, midday and evening. Adding some gravy makes it more palatable.
Canned foods on the market range from 44p to £1.00 per tin. Complete foods on the market are around £2.50 per box.
Obviously, the larger the dog, the more he will eat and the more expensive it will be to feed him. Feeding instructions can be found on the label of the can, and on the packet of the complete food. Fresh water must be provided at all times.
You may wish to buy some dog biscuits to feed as rewards for good behaviour, or just as treats. There are many varieties available, ranging from Bonios to gravy bones to cheesy treats. There are also chews available, which will keep your dog occupied for longer. Be careful not to feed too many treats, your dog will become overweight.
IMPORTANT! Dogs must not be fed chocolate. Chocolate contains a toxic chemical called theobromine. The toxic dose is between 100-250mg of theobromine per kilo of the dog's weight. That means 200g of dark chocolate could be fatal for a dog weighing 25kg, such as a female Labrador. The Goodboy chocolate drops sold in stores for dogs do not contain theobromine and are safe to feed.
Dogs don't really need much in the way of housing, since they live in your house! However, most dogs will appreciate a bed to sleep in. They are not overly expensive, and will prevent your dog sleeping on the furniture.
You will need a food bowl and a water bowl. The water bowl should always be full and accessible to the dog at all times. The water should be changed every day, and may need refilling during the day in hot weather when your dog will drink extra water. The food bowl should be large and heavy so that is doesn't skate around the floor when your dog is trying to eat.
Your dog should wear a collar at all times when he is outside the house. The collar should have an identification tag with your telephone number and the number of your vet incase your dog escapes. Some people have their dog's name engraved as well. These tags can be obtained from your vet. Inside the house, your dog doesn't really need to wear a collar - make sure that the house and garden are secure before letting him roam free without a collar on! You will also need a lead in order to take your dog for a walk. You can either get a flexi-lead which extends to various adjustable lengths, or a regular lead. If you have a puppy you must not under any circumstances walk it out in the road until it has had all its vaccinations (at around 15-16 weeks).
If your dog pulls and strains on the lead and drags you everywhere, it is a good idea to get a Halti. These are headcollars similar to those worn by horses. When the dog pulls, the headcollar tightens around the dogs muzzle and applies gentle pressure, which the dog doesn't like and therefore stops pulling and walks nicely. They do not harm the dog in any way. They do not restrict the dog from opening his mouth and are not muzzles. I am amazed that so many people mistake my dog's Halti for a muzzle when he passes by with his mouth wide open and panting!
Your dog will enjoy having some toys to play with. Rubber squeaky toys, balls, Raggers, Kongs and frisbees are all firm favourites. If your dog likes to chew, rawhide chews are useful, or there are synthetic bones available, called Nylabone. These bones last for weeks and even months and are edible and safe to chew. Dogs often like to settle down for a good chew after they have eaten a meal.