Did you notice 2020 was ‘the year of the pet’? – from newspaper headlines, to celebrity ‘gotchya day’ stories, the emptying of adoption shelters and sky-rocketing price of puppies – our dogs caught the public’s attention this year.
Whether lockdown companion or exercise alibi, many households have come to realise the benefits that a four-legged housemate can bring. From busy family homes, to one-person households, many of us are experiencing life with a dog for the first time.
Much like child care, there’s an abundance of advice on what to do when you become a pooch or puppy parent – and it’s not always consistent or sensitive to your particular set-up. Just as each dog is an individual, so are the homes and the families they become part of.
At Sniffe & Likkit, we know a thing or two about the incredible sense of smell that your furry friend brings with them, which can be harnessed in all sorts of ways. That’s why our products have all been created with the power of natural essential oils to keep your hound in harmony with your home.
Grooming and treating your dog is a great time to build mutual trust and help to instil disciplined behaviour. Regular washing, combing and caring for their skin and fur provides great opportunities for you to check them for bites, sores, scratches or other little irritations that can become bigger problems if left undetected.
Whilst we bring the magic in the formulas to make sure your dog’s skin and fur is in tip-top condition, you need to bring the habits to make sure that caring for them becomes part of your bond of trust.
SOME TOP TIPS FOR THE EARLY MONTHS
LOVE AT FIRST WASH A first instinct as a new dog owner is to wash your new friend; it’s perfectly acceptable to want your new arrival to be clean and fresh when meeting the rest of the family. Adopted dogs may have aromas from the shelter or a medicated wash treatment still in their fur. Pooches who love to get muddy or roll around in smelly stuff will certainly be in need of a good bath early on. Puppies need gentle shampoos and you should check the products you use are suitable for dogs under 4 months old.
BATHTIME IS WE-TIME - get your dog used to bath-time as enjoyable ‘we-time’ - make sure their first experience isn’t scary or stressful. We’ve got much more advice on ‘how to wash your dog’ here (LINK) and it’s worth following some of these practical steps from the very first wash.
GRADUAL INTRODUCTIONS - Introduce new people, other pets and unfamiliar spaces slowly. Don’t expect perfect behaviour from the very first interaction… ‘house rules’ will be tested, loose shoes will become chew-toys or boredom relief tools. ‘Your’ favourite chair will smell abundantly of your unique scent, your aftershave/perfume, your clothes and it’s a natural place for your dog to seek comfort if you’re not around.
MAKING NEW FRIENDS - Set aside time to bond and socialise with people (as well as other dogs). Oftentimes, we expect a dog to slot right into our lives without giving time and effort to just observe them and develop an owner’s intuition for what your dog needs. Sniffing the ground in an agitated way? That can be ‘I need to toilet’. Yawning excessively? That can be ‘wow I’m tired’ but also a distress signal: ‘take note of my powerful teeth’.
HYDRATION STATION - Make sure water is ALWAYS available. An easy one to overlook in the excitement of welcoming a new dog. In all weather, your dog needs fresh water in a large, clean bowl that is readily accessible (especially if kept enclosed). There should also be a bowl of water outside at all times. Dehydration can happen in cold weather as well as hot; in the winter months, home heating can dry them out too. Puppies need to drink small amounts of water, frequently.
TRAINING STARTS NOW - Begin training the basic commands on day one – don’t wait. Nearly all the good advice these days is reward-based: plenty of treats and encouragement of ‘right’ behaviour to make sure that doing what you want them to do, becomes what your dog finds the most exciting thing, ever.
DOG-PROOF YOUR HOME AHEAD OF TIME - There’s lots of advice in this area, from hiding electrical (and data) cables, closing toilet seats, to removing plants and flowers that can be dangerous if chewed. Read up!
CREATE DOG-ONLY ‘SAFE SPACE’ - your dog must have a place they can retreat to if they’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or just in need of some ‘chill-out’ time. Make this attractive and comfortable; it’s never a punishment to be there. You can include a hot water bottle, favoured toys/blankets or hidden treats to make this somewhere your dog wants to be. A crate (with the door open) as a place that no-one else can get into is a great refuge for your dog.