Are you thinking about getting a dog but want to know what's involved for daily care? If you follow a routine, caring for a dog shouldn't be insurmountable, even if you work a lot.
Your dog should be fed twice a day and always have access to clean, fresh water. The easiest way to schedule this is to feed your dog right before or after your breakfast and dinner. Not only is this a great way to remember, but it helps ensure your dog won't beg at the table.
Tip: If your dog is on a special diet prescribed by a veterinarian, follow the instructions on the bag. These may differ from a normal dog's routine.
Walking Your Dog
There's a misconception among many dog owners that their dogs do not need walks if they have a yard with a fence. However, a dog may not get enough exercise this way, and a continuous walk is a better form of exercise. Most dogs should be walked twice a day for about 20-30 minutes. However, an older dog may need less exercise whereas some high energy breeds need more and probably would prefer a good jog or run. You can walk them once in the morning and when you return from work or in the evening.
Tip: If you work all day, try to come home for lunch to take your dog for a walk. Another option is to hire a dog walker.
Play and Exercise
In addition to walks, all dogs enjoy playtime during the day. This could be with other dogs if you own more than one, or you can have "doggie playdates" with friends' dogs. Swimming is another great form of daily exercise if you have a swimming pool and your dog enjoys it. Never leave your dog unsupervised though. Every dog loves different games like Frisbee or fetch. You can also give him a food-stuffed puzzle, items to chew or play scent games using treats and a cardboard box.
Tip: Some owners, especially if they work all day, will take their dogs to doggie daycare so the dog has a chance to run around and play with other dogs.
By the time a dog is an adult, it should have a consistent schedule for elimination. An adult dog should be let out in the morning when you wake up, and immediately once you get home from work, and 20-30 minutes after each meal it eats. If you have an older dog or a dog that is not feeling well, you may have to let them out more often based on their specific condition's needs.
Tip: If you work more than 8 hours a day, and have a yard, consider a doggie door so your pet has access to the outdoors.
Every dog has different needs as far as grooming. Follow the recommendations of your breeder, professional groomer or your veterinarian on how often your breed of dog needs grooming and how much during the day. For example, short coat breeds tend to need just brushing a few times a week and an occasional bath whereas breeds with thick or long coats require daily intense grooming that can require a good block of time during the day to do it well.
Training for a Mental Workout
Enrichment is a daily need for dogs and training sessions are one form of a mental workout. In addition, training helps establish order in the household and makes for a well-behaved companion. You do not have to spend a ton of time, as dogs learn better in short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes. Practice training while on walks with your dog to teach him to sit, wait, and to gree people politely.
Tip: Weave training into your daily routine by having your dog sit while you watch TV or practice other commands while you're at the dinner table or relaxing with a book.
Life With Your Dog
Anyone who owns a dog will tell you it takes dedication to a regular schedule to provide for the dog's needs. However the rewards one receives back from the love and companionship of a dog more than make up for the time it takes each day!