How to Look After a Dog

Cute dogWhat are the secrets of achieving a nice co-existence between you and your beloved puppy? In this guide, the Balham Doggy Centre team will explain how to look after a dog from the first day it arrives at home.

How to Look After a Dog

It is advisable to adopt the dog when it is at least 60 days old – unless of course you found it on the street or in a shelter. Before that age the dog still needs its mother’s food and warmth. That milk is the only thing which will strengthens its immunity.

It is likely the little creature will whine and look for its mother the first few nights. You can put a warm bottle of water in its bed to remind it of its mother’s warmth and calm him down. Provide toys of different materials for the dog, it will need them later when changing its teeth and during the whole growing process.


A puppy must be fed four to five times a day and the richest meal is in the evening. Do not overfeed it. A puppy’s stomach must not be visibly swollen. That is why it should be fed often. The most common problems caused by overfeeding are upset stomach, which are not of a small importance and are hard to control. Stomach turning is common. Popular pet food manufacturers offer a great range of products suitable for every age.

A puppy could be given grounded beef, liver, yoghurt, eggs. You can also add fish oil and vitamins to its food. No matter what kind of food you offer your pet however, you can will find it hard to replace the high – quality granule foods.

Chocolate, spicy and sweet foods are not suitable for small dogs, as well as for grown ones. After turning 3 moths, if needed, we recommend giving your dog calcium pills, especially if it is a big or gigantic breed.

When the dog six months, you must decrease the number of feeding to twice a day. It would be better if you teach the dog to feed during certain hours and also try to not encourage it to beg for food on the table.

It is absolutely enough for a one year old dog to be fed once a day with a portion suitable to his kilograms. Small breeds are an exception. They can be fed twice a day. Bones are extremely inappropriate food because they split and could cause the tearing of the gullet and the intestines. This can prove deadly. They also have no nutritional value!
The feeding must be done after the walk, not before.

Hygiene habits

The moment your pet enters your home you must start teaching it to go to a certain place when the need arises. Little puppies cannot control themselves and you may often find puddles of urine around the house.

Remember, something very important – never punish the dog when the thing is already done. It will not understand why you are scolding it. Dogs do not remember – even if there is a small amount of time between the two actions.

Don’t push its nose into the dirt, don’t hit it, this is not a way for it to understand what you want it to do. Instead, you must praise it and give it treats when it goes to the certain place you chose for its needs.


When the dog arrives in your home it is important to make things easier for it and settle it in a smaller space. The environment is still unknown and confusing. Usually little puppies perform their needs after feeding or sleeping.

This is the time when you have to take it and place it in the chosen spot. Cover the place with two layers of newspapers and/or diaper sheets. Place them so that they cover a large space of the room and when the puppy goes there for its needs, caress it and give it a prize.

Remove the upper layer of the newspapers, but leave the lower one. Next time it will know to go on the same spot, sensing the urine smell. You can gradually move the papers towards the bathroom, the terrace or whatever place you have chosen. When the dog does something bad, a loud NO! is absolutely enough. When it goes to the chosen spot for its needs however, you must encourage it.

When the third vaccine is made and your vet allows you to take the dog outside, start teaching it to perform its needs there. Take it outside in certain hours of the day and try to make sure your walks continue long enough.

The more time you spend with it outside praising it when it does what it should out of home, the faster it will get used to this. And don’t forget that it always wants you to be proud of it and praise it. Gradually the puppy will understand and will learn to do this outside.

Cosmetic procedures

You must start teaching your puppy while still young so that it can stay calm and will not resist all the cosmetic procedures that must be done to it. Bathing, nail cutting, cleansing the ears, combing, haircut – it must let you do all those things (except cutting the nails which is done by the vet).

Use food while teaching it, this has always been a basic stimulus in performing commands and obedience. If you are unable to deal with these procedures, always ask your vet for advice.

  • Bathing – it is enough to bathe your dog once a month and even less in winter months. Frequent bathing deprive its fur of its oily protective layer and thus you risk making its fur dry and less shiny. Use shampoo or soap.
  • Ears – it is most suitable and safe to clean them using cotton swab, soaked with camomile or water. You can also use medicine ear drops in the ear.
  • Teeth – inappropriate food and negligence to a dog’s mouth hygiene could cause the forming of tartar. If that happens you must go to a specialist to remove it. To avoid that, you should feed your dog generally with granule food and give him the special treats designed for cleaning the teeth.

Treating against parasites and vaccines

Note: Only healthy animals can be vaccinated!

Vaccines and regular treatment against parasites are vital for your pet’s life and health. This is the only effective way to protect it from different kind of diseases that are hard or impossible to cure.
Dogs get 3 vaccines that include protection against some of the most dangerous and common diseases.

  • First vaccine – at the age of 45 – 50 days;
  • Second vaccine – at the age of 8 – 9 weeks;
  • Third vaccine – at the age of 12 weeks

During this period it is absolutely forbidden to take the dog outside as it still hasn’t built its immunity and is likely to get sick.
After that, the dog is vaccinated once a year.

Internal and external treatment against parasites is also made monthly.

  • Internal – against worms /tapeworms and intestinal worms. These must start at the age of two weeks with small pups and if the dog happens to excrete parasites it must be repeated every 14 days until it stops.
  • External – against fleas and ticks – must be done every month with a special care during summer periods. There are special medicines, leashes and powders to use.

The first external treatment of the dog should be done when it is 20 days old.

Ask your vet about the exact dosage.

Training, obedience

You can start with simple commands like come, sit, lie down, give a paw. These are best trained when the dog is at an early age. Make the trainings brief so that the dog does not lose interest. Again use food as a basic motive.

Take into account the many useful books about education and training and the thousand of articles in the internet.

Spend a lot of time walking and playing with your dog, they love being physically active and stimulated. This assures less trouble in home.

Sexual maturity

Female dogs grow to maturity around the age of six months and the male – around the age of seven to eight months. Usually female dogs come into season twice a year but there are rare cases of pretended pregnancy which can also lead to discomfort for the owners.

We recommend castration as a guarantee for a healthier and calmer dog. In today’s overpopulation and thousand of homeless dogs, our advice is not to breed and thus complicate the serious situation in the country. If you have a club, a pedigree dog and the club approved the connection to it, then things are different.

When your friend grows old

It comes a time when dogs, just like humans, lose their energy, get senile and taking care for them becomes more difficult. Every breed has a different life span. Gigantic breeds, like Mastiff, Great Dane etc. live between 7 and 10 years.

While smaller ones like Bolognese dog, Poodle could even reach the honoured age of 18 – 20 years. The medium life span is around 14 – 16 years.

Most dog owners care for their animals even when they are old and sick. Unfortunately, we come across cases where they don’t every day.

One of the most important things you should do when caring for an elderly dog is to visit the vet more often. Observe your dog, watch for symptoms – tumor formations, wounds, eye problems, walking problems, change of behaviour – those sort of things.

It will become more and more difficult for your dog to control its needs, so it is not shameful or a bad idea to use child diapers.

The dogs vision grows weak as it gets older so be careful with the objects around the animal that could hurt it.

It is recommended to start adding supplements to the food of bigger dogs in order to sustain their joints and bones.

And last but not least, when the time comes to decide whether you stop its misery and pain or give it life for another day or two, it is all up to you! We hope you will make the right decision!

All in all, we wish you many wonderful moments with your beloved pet!