Are you overwhelmed at the thought of all the stuff you need to properly care for your dog? Would you rather spend your hard earned money on reducing debt or splurging on human family members? Or if you’d prefer to picture your home clear of dog stuff – don’t worry – dogs don’t really need much to be happy and healthy which is just as well because I have 6 dogs and plan on moving into a mobile tiny house next year!
After thinking about what I would really need for my dogs once we downsized, I decided the essentials for a happy, health dog are:
The best quality dry dog food (aka ‘kibble’) you can budget for because this supports good health and behaviour. No bowl required! Try sprinkling your dog’s food on the lawn or patio for them to eat a piece at a time; or hide it in small piles around the house or yard for them to hunt down. If your dog is a bit of a challenge to live with, keep their food in a bag in your pocket and they can earn it a few pieces at a time for good or at least improved behaviour – that way everyone wins!
All dogs love to chew. Give them healthy chews like carrots and chunks of apple or melon so you don’t have to add extra things to your weekly shop and reduce food waste.
Provide a large heavy bowl of fresh water daily. Keep this in the shade to avoid overheating. If your dog likes to play with their water, have a few bowls or buckets available so they aren’t at risk of dehydration, or give them a large ice cube to chew on and play with.
A raised bed for summer is all that’s needed, and you can pop a soft fluffy bed or blanket onto that for the colder nights. Of course if you let your dog sleep on your bed or sofa like I do you won’t need these!
If your dog sleeps or spends most of their days outside, a kennel is advised to provide shelter from extreme weather conditions. Make sure it is placed near the back door, facing away from the wind, and is under cover. Kennels must be raised off the ground to stop the cold seeping in to the floor and bedding.
In NSW whenever your dog leaves your property it must wear identification. That could be a collar and tag with your dog’s name and your phone number, or you could buy a collar with those details embroidered on (see www.petcollars.com.au).
Your dog must also be microchipped and registered through your local council.
A car harness is a legal requirement when your dog travels in a motor vehicle. Alternatives are a travel crate that is seat belted in place (or permanently fixed in place if you have a ute), or a properly installed cargo barrier if you want your dog to travel in the rear of your vehicle.
The other safety tool is a standard 4ft leash. In NSW your dog is required to be on leash when off your property unless in a designated off-leash area.
- Health & Hygiene
If you can afford it, invest in pet health insurance to cover emergencies and preventative medicine. I have 6 dogs so premiums are prohibitive for me. Instead I have a savings account that I regularly put a small amount into to cover emergency vet fees and annual vaccinations.
Flea & tick treatments, and intestinal worm treatments, can be bought at regular intervals or yearly. Some websites where you can purchase these even offer a reminder service.
To keep your dog clean a dog shampoo/conditioner and at least one towel for drying after a monthly bath is also handy. These can be avoided if you opt to have your dog regularly groomed professionally. If your dog has long hair you may need a slicker brush for daily care. If you have a short coat dog a pet mitt or soft bristle brush is enough for a weekly clean.
If you want to groom your dog but they are difficult please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange private training to teach your dog to accept grooming. I’m available Mondays to Fridays between 11am and 8pm for appointments around Sydney.
Invest in at least one rubber Kong or Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude chew toy. You can feed your dog using these or play fetch with them. Fill these toys with suitable left over human food or dog treats to encourage your dog to chew on them.
The most important thing your dog needs is you. Spend time playing with them each day. Spend time being affectionate with them, set aside 10 minutes just for cuddle time – look into their eyes, talk to them softly, pat them gently. Take them for a walk each day, if you have the time go for two walks. Because dogs have lots of energy when they wake, take them for a walk in the morning and leave them at home happy and tired. If your dog is difficult or unpleasant to walk please write to me now at email@example.com to arrange private training so that walks are enjoyable for you both!
Include your dog in family outings. If they are healthy and good with other dogs twice weekly visits to the dog park for doggy play will keep them sweet. Because we all want a dog we can be proud of when in public make sure they know how to behave well by joining a class where they can learn what to do and practice too. At Cheeky Pup! Dog Training we offer group classes for puppies and adolescent dogs up to 2 years old to teach obedience, manners, and games. If your dog is more than 2 years old, or has any behaviour problems, we can teach them at your home. Visit our website at www.cheekypup.com.au for lots of information on our classes in the western suburbs of Sydney; or write to me now at firstname.lastname@example.org if you prefer private training in the Sydney area.