Advice for new dog owners:

NEW 20 Essential Tips for a New Dog

Safety and security:

You must ‘dog-proof' your home, garden or veranda to ensure your dog cannot escape. In the first couple of weeks while your dog is settling in, it may try to find its way out to explore the neighbourhood alone.

Put on a well-fitting collar, not too tight, and remember to adjust it if you have a puppy that is still growing. The collar should not be loose enough to fit over the dog's head but you should be able to slip two fingers under it.

Buy an identity tag from a pet shop and put your name and phone number on it before attaching it to the dog's collar. This way, if your dog ever gets lost, anyone who finds it will be able to call you.

Your dog should be micro-chipped and registered with the veterinary services so that it can be returned to you if it is picked up by the Dog Shelter, a local municipality or taken to the police or a local veterinarian.

Toilet training:

Whether you have adopted a puppy or an older dog, house training is the first lesson you will teach it. Take your dog outside regularly, especially after eating or sleeping. As soon as your dog ‘goes', make a big fuss of him or her; immediate praise is essential. If your dog has an accident in the house, then take it outside immediately. Do not punish the dog. Be patient; puppies especially may take some time to learn. For very young dogs, you may use newspaper in the house until they are old enough to go outside.

Feeding:

Regular feeding and a balanced diet are essential for a healthy and happy dog. A good quality dry food is easy and convenient and contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals that dogs need. Dogs do not need a varied diet and changing food frequently can lead to an upset stomach. You can give your dog bones in addition to the dry food, but these must be large (beef marrow bone s are best) and uncooked. Cooked or small bones can splinter and be very dangerous. Chicken bones are definitely to be avoided.

Clean, fresh water should be available to the dog at all times.

Adult dogs can be fed once a day at around the same time each day. Puppies up to six months old will need up to four smaller meals per day.

Exercise:

It is very important that your dog gets enough exercise. You should walk your dog at least once a day. Some breeds are more active than others and will need longer walks and the chance to run free without a lead; this should always be in a safe area.

Grooming:

All dogs benefit from a daily brush. It is not only useful for removing dust, dirt and dead hair, it's also a chance for you to bond with the dog as well as check the skin for any irritation or parasites. Bathing should only be carried out when it is absolutely necessary as this can cause dry skin if done too often. Some breeds need to have their hair cut or trimmed; this is best done by a professional groomer; it is not necessary to sedate the dog for this. The Shelter can recommend a dog groomer if needed.

Holidays:

Many dogs are brought to us during the holiday periods because proper arrangements have not been made for their care while their families are away. It is important to make plans for your dog to be taken care of while you are away. We do not recommend leaving your dog home alone even if someone will be checking on him regularly. The dog will feel your absence and may try to escape to look for you. We recommend you use professional boarding kennels where your dog will be safe and well cared for. We can provide recommendations for local kennels if needed.

Veterinary Care:

Your dog should be taken to the vet's regularly for deworming, anti-parasitic treatments and vaccination. Your vet will advise you on how often your dog needs the above.

Enjoy your dog and remember, dogs are not our whole lives but they do make our lives whole!

Leaving your dog home alone:

An important part of dog training is teaching your dog that it is alright to be left alone at home. Separation anxiety is a common animal welfare issue for pet dogs, and dogs who suffer from this may bark, howl, have toilet problems or be destructive when left alone. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that dogs rehomed from shelters are any more likely to develop this behaviour than dogs obtained from breeders.

Here are some useful tips which will help you and your dog to avoid separation anxiety developing:

  • Start by leaving the dog alone for short periods, gradually increasing these if the dog reacts well.
  • Never leave the dog alone for so long that it becomes distressed. If you have to go out for a long period of time, ask someone to check in on the dog.
  • Reward your dog for being relaxed and well-behaved when left alone; rewards could be a dog treat, cuddles or praise.
  • To prevent your dog becoming bored in your absence, leave a toy or bone for it to play with.
  • Try to take the dog for a walk before you go out, it will be more relaxed if it has had enough exercise.
  • Make sure the dog has been to the toilet before being left alone.
  • Always leave clean, cool water available for the dog, and if it is due to be fed while you are out, feed it beforehand.

If your dog does behave badly while you are out, it is very important that you do not punish the animal when you return. Separation anxiety gets worse when owners punish their dogs.

Dogs are unable to link their actions with the punishment received unless it occurs within a second of the action. Therefore they will associate the punishment with your return, rather than their own barking/chewing/toileting carried out earlier. This will make them even more anxious about what you will do next time you return, making them even more likely to misbehave when you go out.

Many dogs who have been punished on previous occasions will show submission when their owners return. They will put their ears back, put their tails between their legs and try to make themselves as small as possible. Owners often assume this is because the dog feels guilty and knows it has done wrong; however, this is not the case.

Summer Tips:

The long, hot, Cypriot summer can be an uncomfortable, even life-threatening season, for a dog, so it is very important to make sure you keep your dog cool during the heat of the day.

Dogs have no sweat glands, which mean they cannot cool off as effectively as we can. Instead, they lose heat by panting. Dogs with short noses (like Pekingese dogs), older dogs and dogs with thick coats are especially susceptible to the heat.

Keeping your dog well-groomed will help keep it cool in the summer sun. Dogs with very long or thick hair, and certain breeds of dogs, should be clipped in the summer to avoid overheating. A professional groomer is the best person to do this, although you can do it yourself at home. Regular brushing is also important to remove dead or unwanted hair from the animal as it sheds its thicker winter coat for a lightweight summer version.

Make sure your dog always has a supply of cool, clean water to drink and if possible, keep the dog indoors during the hottest hours of the day. If the dog must be outside, make sure there is a cool, shady area available at all times (bearing in mind that the sun moves round during the day).

Another way to keep your dog cool outdoors is to fill a child's paddling pool with a few inches of water, so that the dog can get in and cool off, alternatively, you could hose the dog down a few times a day; most dogs enjoy playing with water.

Avoid walking the dog during the hottest hours of the day, apart from it being dangerous to exercise in the heat, pavements and roads will be baking hot and your dog can burn its paws on the hot surface.

Never, ever leave your dog in a parked car during the summer heat. The temperature inside a parked car can rise to over 50 degrees C within minutes, even when the car is in the shade. Your dog could suffer severe heat stroke or even die within ten minutes.

Symptoms of heatstroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, a deep red or purple tongue and unsteadiness or a staggering gait. The dog may even collapse. You should move the dog into a cool area and douse it with cool (NOT cold) water, and call your vet immediately.

Apart from all the risks associated with the heat, summer is also the peak season for fleas, ticks and mites. In Cyprus we have also had cases of leishmania recorded, which is carried by the sand-fly, so it is crucial you treat your dog with one of the preventative anti-parasite medicines available.

Myths and Facts about Sterilisation:

MYTH: My pet will get fat and lazy.

FACT: The truth is that most pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much and don't give them enough exercise.

MYTH: It's better to have one litter first.

FACT: Medical evidence indicates just the opposite. In fact, the evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as eight weeks of age. Check with your veterinarian about the appropriate time for these procedures.

MYTH: My children should experience the miracle of birth.

FACT: Even if children are able to see a pet give birth—which is unlikely, since it usually occurs at night and in seclusion—the lesson they will really learn is that animals can be created and discarded as it suits adults. Instead, it should be explained to children that the real miracle is life and that preventing the birth of some pets can save the lives of others.

MYTH: But my pet is a purebred.

FACT: So is at least one out of every four pets brought to animal shelters around the country. There are just too many dogs and cats—mixed breed and purebred.

MYTH: I want my dog to be protective.

FACT: Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog's natural instinct to protect home and family. A dog's personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones.

MYTH: I don't want my male dog or cat to feel like less of a male.

FACT: Pets don't have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Neutering will not change a pet's basic personality. He doesn't suffer any kind of emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered.

MYTH: But my dog (or cat) is so special, I want a puppy (or kitten) just like her.

FACT: A dog or cat may be a great pet, but that doesn't mean her offspring will be a carbon copy. Professional animal breeders who follow generations of bloodlines can't guarantee they will get just what they want out of a particular litter. A pet owner's chances are even slimmer. In fact, an entire litter of puppies or kittens might receive all of a pet's (and her mate's) worst characteristics.

MYTH: It's too expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered.

FACT: The cost of spaying or neutering depends on the sex, size, and age of the pet, your veterinarian's fees, and a number of other variables. But whatever the actual price, spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost—a relatively small cost when compared to all the benefits. It's a bargain compared to the cost of having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and litter; two months of pregnancy and another two months until the litter is weaned can add up to significant veterinary bills and food costs if complications develop. Most importantly, it's a very small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of the births of more unwanted pets.

MYTH: I'll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens.

FACT: You may find homes for all of your pet's litter. But each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters who need good homes. Also, in less than one year's time, each of your pet's offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.