Caring for your dog: In order to demonstrate an example of caring for dogs, I’ll describe what we do here at Booker Pet Care. The precise care for dogs is dependent upon the individual to a certain extent. What breed they are, their age, health, usual routine and personal preferences.
Different breeds have varying specific needs. For example, Border Collies need lots of mental and physical exercise. Their intelligence needs to be channeled in some way. This will ensure they remain content, and not frustrated. Frustration can lead to unwanted behaviour and eventually aggression. Dog breeds such as Pugs, Cavalier King Charles, Pekingese, Shih Tzus and other smaller breeds may not need so much. But it depends on the individual dog and what they are used to – without extremes. Sleep is also very important.
Puppies need very little exercise – only 5 minutes per month of age, until their fully physically grown. This will ensure they don’t hurt themselves or cause damage to their developing tendons and ligaments. Eg a 6 month pup should only be walked for 30 minutes in a whole day. Exercise isn’t for wearing a pup out – it’s for exercise, stimulation and enrichment, as well as training.
An adult dog will usually love going for walks, and in order to ensure they stay healthy, their food intake has to relate to their exercise regime. A dog that isn’t very active won’t need as much food as one that is.
Sleep is very important. Dogs – again breed dependent may sleep for anywhere between 8 and 14 hours per day. Sleep is very important to ensure the dog remains healthy and happy. Over-tired dogs can exhibit unwanted behaviour, or become aggressive.
Puppies need so much more sleep – around 20 hours per day. This is crucial to their development. When puppies sleep, their body releases a growth hormone. If they don’t get sufficient sleep, this can directly impact on their physical and mental growth.
What do you need to buy before getting a puppy?
there is a lot of preparation required before bringing pup home. Hopefully you will’ve read up on the specific breed and know what to expect – to a certain extent. The following are further considerations that I recommend:
- Insurance – as well as for medical issues etc, the public liability element of insurance ensures that you are covered if your pup was to get himself into trouble eg running off and causing a car accident – you would be liable; or if they caused damage to someone’s property – you would be liable. Also, if there were other issues in terms of legal issues where your dog may have jumped up at someone and you needed help defending them in court – insurance will help!
- Ensure Pup is microchipped and the microchip is registered to you as the owner
- Veterinary registration with an appointment for check up and injections
- Puppy crate – highly recommend
- Cushioned mat and/or Vet bed for inside crate
- Blankets for inside the crate and also to cover it up to make a den
- Water and food bowls – especially a water bowl for inside the crate – pup needs constant access to clean drinking water
- Biodegradable Poo bags
- Dog Food suitable for the age of the dog
- Collar and Lead – collar can be fitted in the pet shop once you have pup to ensure a proper fit;
- Puppy pads, if using
- Puppy pen, if using
- Age appropriate toys
- Secure garden or nearby outside space for toileting
- Plan for training and socialising pup
- Training aids or classes. I recommend Steve Mann’s ‘Easy Peasy Puppy Squeasy’ – you can of course call me to help!
Above all, you must be prepared for the highs and lows of puppy/dog ownership. It’s not going to be all plain sailing! But it WILL be worth it!
Booker Pet Care:
Dogs who come to stay with us for home boarding – and indeed our own dogs – have structured but flexible days. A dogs’ main interests are food, exercise, playtime and sleep time, therefore the day is based around these factors. Where boarding dogs are concerned, wherever possible we try to observe routines which they are used to at home, but as they’re entering a new environment in our home, often a compromised routine is easily adopted and very quickly understood.
The boarding dogs are usually accommodated overnight separate from our dogs, in a separated area in the kitchen or in the porch. The kitchen area is divided in half by an extended dog gate, with our dogs on one side – the snug side, – and the boarding dogs on the other. Sometimes however, the boarding dogs want to be with our dogs and, if there’s absolutely no chance of any hostility or niggling on anyone’s part – we accommodate this.
We also accommodate dogs in our porch which is just a small room with dog beds and radiator. This is separated from the kitchen by a dog gate, and the main door is is rarely closed, but fitted with a dog gate to ensure safety and security without creating a feeling of isolation..
Once everyone is awake, they all go out to play in the rear garden waiting for their dog walk. Meanwhile, we clean the dog water bowls – cleaning them properly and refreshing the water. All dog areas are checked for any signs of illness, and floors are vacuumed and the dog areas are cleaned and mopped.
All dogs are taken out for a 45 – 60 minute walk early in the morning in our secure field so they can relieve themselves and have a good stretch after the night’s sleep. This generally involves an off the lead walk allowing them to roam and sniff and play, gaining proper opportunity to run free. Dogs with mobility issues can exercise in the garden or in the smaller rear garden, dependent upon their needs.
Usually boarding dogs are also allowed off the lead, but this is once we have properly bonded and are completely confident that the dog will return. Sometimes, in the case of new boarders we might use the longline leads so they can still participate in play with the others whilst ensuring that we can easily gain control from the dragging 10m lead.
We also have boarders who require less exercise as they are older or have medical problems which prevent them from walking on roads (poorly feet), or have mobility issues due to severe arthritis etc and cannot walk for 45 minutes. For these dogs, they are walked separately from the others to ensure their individual needs are catered for.
On return from the walk, fresh water is available – and is available all the time. We have a short relaxation time before breakfast is provided. Feeding time is organised very carefully so that boarding dogs are separated from our dogs to ensure no food aggression incidents. Our two Labradors happily eat together but Georgie Jack Russell has to be separated as she loves their Natural Instinct food which sadly she can’t enjoy for health reasons. All dogs are separated into their family units for feeding to ensure no instances of aggression.
After breakfast we let the dogs out into the garden where they are free to relieve themselves or play. After approximately one hour, this is usually followed by all the dogs sleeping until the afternoon. The external door is often left open indefinitely allowing the dogs freedom to go outside for resting, or relieving themselves, but usually the house remains calm and quiet until the mid-afternoon. Usually everyone joins me in the office, which is the smallest room in the house! Dogs need company. The RSPCA stipulates dogs are to be left alone for a maximum of 3-4 hours only.
In the early afternoon, we go out again for a walk and a play, which then stimulate further need for sleep for the afternoon until dinnertime!
The same process is followed at dinnertime with all dogs being separated into their family groups for feeding. Dogs must be exercised either before feeding or at least an hour after eating to ensure they don’t develop gastric problems such as twisted bowel.
We then concentrate on cooking our own dinner and settling down for the evening. Invariably the dogs will sleep intermittently throughout the evening, and periodically they are let out into the garden for relieving themselves and for sniffing duties! Dogs are retired to bed with a handful of treats. We use Lily’s Kitchen complete kibble for dog treats, to ensure they are not full of chemicals and fillers. There are no regulations on ingredients for dog treats. There are a few for dog food, though arguably are not rigorous enough, but none for dog treats. So I use the complete Lily’s Kitchen food, which, as a Stockist, I have an abundance of.
Other points to mention
Obviously we follow a routine that is for a specific boarding establishment – our specialty is dog boarding. I am home with our dogs and the boarding dogs most of the time. This suits us but is good for the dogs who aren’t left alone for long periods. I rarely go out except for Natural Instinct and/or Lily’s Kitchen dog food deliveries on specific days. Dogs need company. The RSPCA stipulates dogs are to be left alone for no longer than 3-4 hours. Anyone with a dog should ensure their dog’s needs are catered for, particularly if they’re away from their dog for a longer period. Dog walkers can be employed to break up the day for your dog. This provides opportunities for a dog walk and toilet break if they are alone for such periods.
When a family/person takes on a dog, they have to understand that the dog has needs and requires consideration at all times, just like any other family member. Their needs cannot be ignored just because the owner is having a bad day, or feeling ill, or is busy. The dog has to be a priority that is taken seriously.
Breed characteristics of different dogs.
Dogs without doubt are an amazing species, they are the most diverse single species on the planet with over 400 breeds, different shapes and sizes not withstanding the temperament differences. This is an exploration of the hard wired psychological breed specific behaviours that might affect your ongoing relationship.
This is a description of 3 different dog breeds, which require differing care and exercise considerations.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
When dog fighting was introduced as a sport, or form of entertainment, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were bred as fighting dogs. They were strong, fast, energetic and not aggressive to people. As such, as a breed, Bull Terriers are renowned for being difficult to have around other dogs. As such, when walking a Bull Terrier, care should be taken with regard to any walking companions which may be involved as the Bull Terrier may demonstrate their in-built aggression with a companion dog, or indeed any dog in which you would come into contact. Furthermore, due to such behaviour, all Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a fearful reputation and therefore their presence in a public location, particularly one frequented by families with dogs, may not be welcome due to their considered link to dangerous dogs eg Rottweilers, Pit Bull Terriers etc. A health concern might be hip dysplasia which the breed are prone to.
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most common and popular breeds for families to have as pets in the UK. They are very playful, affectionate and loyal as a breed hence their popularity. They need a lot of exercise – both physical and mental – on a daily basis and love to swim which should be accommodated wherever possible. Due to their mental ability, they are easy to train hence their role as Guide dogs, search and rescue etc. Walking a Labrador should involve little confrontation or problems as they are a very sociable, friendly breed, however they do need stimulus to avoid boredom, which, particularly where Labrador Retriever puppies are concerned, can lead to destructive tendencies. Their proneness to conditions such as arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia calls for care when young to control their enthusiastic leaping and jumping to protect vulnerable joints etc.
These are very large dogs with low energy levels resulting in them not being particularly playful as a breed, and therefore they don’t need the exercise required by a Labrador Retriever, for example. They are gentle natured and entirely loyal to their family. The breed is famous for its previous exploits as search and rescue in Switzerland, where over 2,000 people have been saved by the breed. Saint Bernard dogs would not need long walks on a daily basis as their size and, particularly in the long haired breeds, mass of hair ensures they couldn’t cope with lots of exercise. Their gentle nature means they are friendly to other pets, however their sheer size may threaten other dogs met on a walk. Health concerns include hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, eyelid problems and elbow dysplasia.