First clarify in your own mind exactly what purpose the dog is to serve. If you need a working dog or a gundog, there will not be too many problems because the very reason for which you require the dog determines fairly accurately the most suitable breed. If, for instance, you want a sporting dog as a gundog for large shoots where mainly small furred and feathered game is shot, you will probably decide on some kind of pointer which can both point and retrieve. Your choice will be similarly simplified if you need a dog for any other particular task.
It is much more difficult for those who only know that they want a dog which will be their devoted companion. Many are badly informed, or have only minimal knowledge of the dog world, so that breadth of choice simply baffles them. All too often their choice does not fall on the breed best suited for them and this can engender bitter disappointment.
A few lines should be devoted to helping those who are faced with the problem of choosing a dog which will fulfill their expectations. In the first place one should carefully consider all the consequence of bringing a dog into the household.
People of a nervous, highly strung disposition or who have nervous neighbors should not picky a noisy dog which likes to bark. It is true that patient training can transform such a holy terror into a pleasant companion but this entails a lot of work. It is much simpler and surer to pick a breed at the beginning that is not given to such a noisy self-expression.
In choosing a dog you should bear in mind your own character as well as your surroundings so that its nature and behavior will fit in.
It should also be remembered that a dog must have exercise and that one must be prepared to take it out for a walk as frequently as it needs. Large, long-legged dogs or smaller very active ones naturally need more exercise than a quiet dog which often likes the comfort of the fireside better than long walks. If you have difficulty in walking then you should choose a dog which does not demand a great deal of exercise.
In addition to sufficient exercise, both on and off the lead, every dog needs to be kept busy. Some need serious work, as in the case of sheepdogs or gundogs; for others play is enough. You should therefore take into consideration what you can offer the dog, whether you will have enough time, opportunity to enjoy life in its own way, it usually pines, its temperament finding outlets in the wrong direction so that either it becomes a bad dog or at best a disagreeable one.
Every dog also requires a certain amount of care. Wire-haired and long-haired varieties need more attention than short-haired, and those which have to be modeled into shape – such as the poodle – demand special care. Dogs should be brushed and comber every day – in the case of long haired dogs brushing suffices – and twice a year they need a bath. Too frequent bathing is harmful. A dog can easily catch cold and become less resistant to infection. In addition its coat suffers, losing its natural oil and thus becoming dry and brittle. The water should be at a temperature of about 35 C and should reach only to the dog’s abdomen. A mild soap or shampoo should be used and care should be taken that it does not get into the ears (which should be protected with tampons of cotton wool) or into the eyes. The head should not be bathed and should remain dry. After bathing, the dog should be well rinsed in lukewarm warm and well dried. It should remain for at least two or three hours in warm place until it is completely dry.
A dog should not be bathed in winter and a bitch in season or a pregnant bitch should not be bathed at all, nor should a puppy under one year old. However, if a young dog does get really dirty there is nothing for it but soap and water for the dirt must be removed, sometimes even from the head. Usually it is enough to rub the ‘affected’ spot with sponge and tepid soapy water, in other cases more drastic measures are required, but great care should be used.
Dogs can be bathed out-of-doors, but only in summer in exceptionally warm weather. The dog should be allowed to shake itself well, and then it should be rubbed down till it is dry and made to have a good run. In fine, warm weather, a dog can go into the water whenever it wants. The natural oil in the coat prevents the water from reaching the skin and so the dog does not catch cold.
Dogs with beards and moustaches should have their whiskers washed with warm water after meals. The inside of the ears should also be cleaned and so should discharges at the corners of the eyes. The cleaning of the ears should be restricted to the visible parts and it should be done with cotton wool, moistened with boracic solution or one- percent salicylic acid and wound round an orange stick. Care should also be taken of the nails, especially if a dog does not have sufficient exercise to wear them down. The feet should be kept free of dirt, earth, small stones, thorns or other sharp objects which can get between the pads and the toes.
It quite often happens that a dog is ill. There are a number of disease to which it is subject and diagnosis and treatment should be under the guidance of a veterinary surgeon. Dogs are all too often attacked by fleas, lice, nits, ticks and different tape, hook and round worms, and can suffer from ailments of the eyes are ears (especially if they travel in cars with open windows). They can also suffer from a chill of the bladder, constipation or diarrhea, flatulence, kidney diseases, skin complaints, poisoning, paralysis of the hind legs (sometimes known as dachshund’s paralysis), distemper and many other diseases.
Your can tell when a dog is ill by its depression, irritability and unaccustomed restlessness, tendency to crawl into a corner, whining, obvious tiredness, lack of appetite and increased temperature. The first signs of distemper are usually a mucoid or purulent discharge from the nose and eyes, septic blisters on the flanks, excessive thirst, lack of appetite and fatigue.
When a dog joints the family circle extra care must, of course be taken with regards to hygiene. A dog should never be allowed to express its affection by licking one’s face. Even the cleanest of dogs – and there are some which will go to any length to avoid every puddle- brings some dirt and even germs into the house. It should be given its own place in the house or flat where it will not be in anyone’s way and should have its own sleeping quarters which should be kept scrupulously clean. Small dogs can have a smaller wicker kennel, medium-sized dogs a wicker basket and large dogs a mattress or several layers of rugs. The bed should be large enough for the dog to lie in it comfortably and, in the case of a basket; the entire bottom should be covered with a small mattress. This should be filled with coarse material – never feathers – and it should have a loose it should have a sufficiently large fenced – in run in the garden or yard with a well-built kennel. This should have its walls insulated against damp and should not stand directly on the ground or be accessible to wind and rain.
The most important factor in the care of a dog is correct feeding. The quality and quantity of its food and regular feeding are decisive for health of the dog and for maintaining its fitness.
The quantity depends on the calorific value of the food and on the size and age of the dog. Food should be various kinds of energy and should, in addition, include vitamins, salts and trace elements.
About two-thirds of a dog’s food should consist of meat. The dog is carnivorous and therefore meat and other animal products such as eggs, milk, cheese, should constitute the principal component of its food. Raw meat is most valuable but a dog fed exclusively or raw meat tends to be smelly. Offal and fish are also of considerable value. The best bones are veal bones of rabbits, game and poultry which can easily splinter and stick in the gullet.
Vegetable products are of less value but should be included in a dog’s diet for their calorific value and vitaminal content. Most important are root vegetables, brown bread, barley, semolina, groats, pulse and other vegetables and fruit. Modern pet foods include excellent canned meats and a range of complete diets in pellet form. The latter provide satisfactory, if monotonous, nutrition and require little effort on the part of the owner.
Regular feeding is of great importance and a dog should therefore be fed at the same time each day. It should only be given as much food as it will consume immediately but fresh water should be available at all times.
Puppies should at first be fed four times a day, then three times and an adult dog not more than twice a day. It should only be given as much food as it will consume immediately but fresh water should be available at all times.
Puppies should at first be fed four times a day, then three times and an adult dog not more than twice a day. After meals a dog should be allowed to rest for at least two hours.
A bitch in oestrus requires greater care. When she is in season she leave stains behind her, at first brownish, then pale pink and afterwards colorless. The marks she leaves are always a problem whether she is kept indoors or in a kennel. If she has her bed in the house, the covers on her mattress should be frequently changed and her bedding and the whole flat or house thoroughly aired. She should be taken out early in the morning doors in a kennel, the straw should be changed frequently. And the doors and gates of the house, garden or yard should be kept closed all the times.
Bitches come in season twice a year, usually in spring and autumn. The first signs of her heat are that she is restless and urinates little and often.
If a bitch is to be mated, a note should be made of the date on which the first drops of blood appear. On about the 12th or 13th day bitches are usually ready to accept a dog, and easily allow themselves to be mounted. It is customary to take the bitch to the dog and not the other way round. If it is not yet right time, the bitch may bite the dog.
A bitch in whelp should be given plenty of gentle exercise in the fresh air and sun but she should not be allowed to carry anything heavy or to jump. Pregnancy usually lasts from 59 to 63 days.
The bitch’s feeding should be adapted to her condition. The diet can be enriched by the addition of liver, veal bones, raw eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables. Care should be taken that she does not become too fat.
The arrival of puppies creates a lot of work. To begin with the bitch takes complete care of them, nurses and massages them and removes all traces of their faeces. But once they begin to leave their box and crawl or run about the room there is nothing for it but to follow them round patiently clearing up the puddles and faeces after them. This has to go on until they are house-trained and it demands a great deal of time and patience.
As the puppies become independent, much time must be spent in preparing their food, putting them out regularly and beginning their basic obedience training.
A few weeks after their birth, the puppies should be given additional food. For the first two or three days they should be given scalded cow’s milk, sweetened with a jump of sugar from twice to four times a day and then a thin gruel of semolina or other cereal. After a few days they can be given thicker porridge with more and more rolled oats being added. Porridge should be alternated with semolina and rice pudding.
In two or three weeks, the puppies, diet should be enriched by meat stock – once a day – and at five weeks, the puppies’ diet should be enriched by meat stock – once a day – and at five weeks old they can be given scraped or minced meat and lightly boiled eggs four or five times a day.
Once weaned – usually at five to six weeks old – puppies are entirely dependent on the food you prepare for them. Is should be nourishing but easily digestible and should be given to them four times a day – always at the same time. It should consist mainly of minced lean beef – cooked or raw – eggs, minced liver, brown bread, sieved vegetables and fish oil. Raw meat must be absolutely fresh.
Great care should be devoted to hygiene. Make sure that the bitch has no fleas. Puppies infested by fleas be become weak, their growth is stunted and they become less resistant to infections.
You should get rid of fleas with a safe insect powder which can be obtained from a chemist. The instructions must be followed exactly. The same means can be used to keep dogs free of lice and nits.
Here mention should be made of other parasites from which dogs often suffer. External ones include ticks, ear mites and lice; internal ones include tape, hook and round worms. Dogs with canker should be treated by a veterinary surgeon, whereas ticks can be dealt with by the owner. They should be removed in the same way as they are from human beings.
Dogs with tape worms suffer loss of appetite; they become thin and their coats lose their gloss. From time to time they vomit and suffer from diarrhea followed immediately by constipation. The presence of tape worms can also be recognized by the way the dogs toboggan along the ground on their behinds. If any such signs are visible, consult your vet.
Some tape worms can be transmitted to human beings, so you should always wash your hands after stroking a dog. Besides this care should be taken to prevent it from licking people even if it is healthy. Dogs should never be given plates or dishes from the table to lick.
Small puppies often suffer from round worms and dogs of six months and over from hookworms. The first are more dangerous because they are parasites on an undeveloped organism. Signs are similar to those in the case of tape worms and help should be sought from a veterinary surgeon.
It is not always easy to see that a dog has parasites so it is a good thing to take a specimen of the dog’s stool to a vet twice a year for testing.
Naturally you want your dog to be well-behaved. Even if you have a small lap dogs it unceasingly as part of an uninterrupted educational process. You only have to relax once and the dog will take advantage and refuse to obey. Sometimes it is hard to see that a dog is playing up and is trying in various ways to undermine your authority.
A young dog must at once be house-trained. It must be forbidden to creep into places that do not belong to it and must not be allowed to jump up at people even if it is looking forward to a treat such as a walk. A dog should also be trained not to take food from strangers, to come when it is called, to sit or lie down when told to, not to run away or to chase noisily after every car, motorcycle or bicycle and to walk to heel. In face, even the smallest house dog should be well behaved and remember its manners even when it is not under the direct control of a member of the family.
Such training demands a great deal of work and patience, love and the correct approach to take the dog as an individual, for even dogs of the same breed often have individual quirks. It is important to approach training in a well-considered, purposeful manner, calmly and consistently. You must not forget that much of what you are asking of the dog runs counter to its nature and that it will try to avoid cooperating whenever you give it the chance.
In educating and training the dog you must first make sure that in understands what you want. Its behavior is instinctive and not the result of though, so you should try to see that – right from the beginning – it grasps that there is a direct connection between what it does and the consequences which will be pleasant or unpleasant, in the either the dog will be praised by its master or it will receive a reprimand or a slightly painful punishment.
Education and training must arise from your love of the dog and its relationship to you its devotion to you and its respect for the pack leader whom you replace. It is wrong to be nervous, get angry with the dog, shout at it or beat it, for this break down mutual harmony. Be careful not to spoil the dog because of your own lack of experience or failure to understand completely its ‘logic’.
Finally, two pieces of advice: but only a purebred dog and not one of uncertain origin and, if possible, provided you have the time and loving patience buy a puppy rather than an older dog.
By purebred dogs we mean those which come from purebred stock and whose pedigree proves them to be members of a certain breed. The pedigree contains extracts from the stud book and includes the names of the dog’s ancestors usually as far back as its great grandparents. Choose a young dog in preference to an older one because it will give you its very first love which is always stronger than attachments formed later.
Before actually buying a dog you should of course realize that its arrival will bring anxieties and expense as well as joy.