Having a dog is responsibility you have to realize when you decide to get a companion. But don't get repulsed - everything is not that difficult if you know what to do and how to care. Whether you are a new dog owner or not, these 7 simple rules will help you take care of your dog or puppy.

1. Puppy's place

A puppy's place must be arranged in a convenient corner. It must never be a place in a passage, near central heating, or near doors (balcony, entrance). For bedding, you can use a mat or a rug covered with some comfortable material. Comfortable means natural, for example cotton. Do not use synthetic covers. Always keep the bedding clean. It can be helpful to have several beddings: just change and wash them from time to time.
If you decide to keep your dog outside, you will have to build up a large enclosure. Preferably, it should have a wooden floor, a roof, and a comfortable shelter inside. This will protect your dog from wind and rain. Today, there are many companies that can build up a dog kennel for you.

2. Coat care

Grooming must take place several times a week. Use a special dog brush. Bathing is recommended when your dog is very dirty. Apart from that, it's recommended to bathe a dog three times a year: in spring, summer, and autumn (try to avoid bathing in winter). Use a dog shampoo if the dog is very dirty. If not, just use clean water. After bathing, dry the dog's coat with a towel, and keep your companion safe from draughts.
An example of dog enclosure with wooden floor. Image credit: volier

3. Ear care

Clean your dog's ears at least once in a month. Use moistened cotton pads or special products for ear cleaning. When the ears are healthy, their inner side is smooth and has a slight amount of light sulphur with no smell. If you notice dark oozing, discharge, unpleasant odour, or if your dog shakes the head and scratches the ears often, these are signs of a possible ear infection. Take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

4. Dental care

Brush your dog's teeth every 3 months. Use tooth powder or toothpaste without a strong taste and smell, or a special toothpaste for dogs. You can also use a special bone with fluoride for teeth cleaning. Besides, they provide a good massage to the jaws.

5. Eye care

Healthy eyes are clean, clear, with no discharge. Alarming symptoms are: redness, inflammation around the eyes, mucous or watery discharge, frequent blinking, increased tearing, a film over the eye. If you notice any of those, show your pup to a vet.

6. Nail care

Healthy nails are dark, shiny, they do not crumble and do not scale off. The nails must be clipped as they grow (if they do not shorten naturally themselves).

7. Last but not least - never buy a dog on a whim!

Having a dog is a long-term relationship, so you have to choose a breed that will match you best. Also, you have to be absolutely sure that you will not get bored with a new puppy in a while. Try to get as much information about dogs and breeds as possible: search in the Internet, visit different websites and forums, ask questions, ask veterinarians and your friends. Only when you are completely sure you do want a dog and when you have made up your mind about the breed, this is the right time to take (buy) a dog.

See also:

12 behaviour tips for new dog owners
Things every dog owner should know