Basic Dog Care 101: The Essentials

Are you thinking of getting a dog, but you are scared of all the work that dog care and training entail? Maybe you already own a dog or several but still have some queries about how to best care for them.

We won’t lie to you. Dogs are probably the highest-maintenance pets out there, and looking after them is a big responsibility. However, it’s nothing that willing owners can’t handle with a proper diet, some exercise, basic obedience training, and a lot of TLC.

Hopefully, this helpful guide will answer all your questions and help you become the best parent to your precious pup.

What Are the Basic Needs of a Dog? 

To survive, dogs need food, water, and shelter like all living things. But to lead a happy and healthy life, a dog requires physical care, exercise, and nurture from its parents, too. 

Food and Water

Dogs can get all the nutrition they need from high-quality commercial dog food available at stores and pet shops. Plus, they can eat human food as well (even though they won’t and can’t eat all kinds of human food), so no special requirements here.

However, every trustworthy dog-care guide warns about the dangers of overfeeding your pup. Dogs will always be hungry or look at you with those big, sad eyes like they haven’t eaten in days.

However, owners must limit their meals to avoid obesity and heart problems. Puppies need to be fed four times a day, but once they reach six months, a meal a day (or two smaller ones) is sufficient for a well-balanced diet.

Dogs should always have clean, fresh water available from spotless water bowls. Here’s another basic dog-care tip: avoid plastic water bowls and go for the stainless steel ones. These are more durable, and they prevent bacteria buildup. 


Unlike caring for cats, who generally prefer to be left alone, doggies are social animals who love spending time with their people. Certain circumstances may require a canine to live outside, but most pups are indoor dwellers.

One of the most fundamental dog-care facts is that your canine cuties should have a space in the house to call their own. It can be a kennel or a soft dog bed, as long as it’s clean and it’s a spot where your pet feels safe and sound. 

Depending on the breed, dogs enjoy sleeping and can sleep anywhere between 12 to 20 hours a day. They need a comfortable space to do this where they can rest undisturbed.


Dogs are active pets who love tugging, fetching, chasing, or plain old running around. Exercise not only helps dogs burn calories and stay healthy, but it also keeps them busy and stops the development of problematic behavior.

In other words, if your dog is playing with its favorite toy, it won’t have to chew through your favorite pair of shoes.

Getting a quality retractable dog leash for long walks combined with a quality dog harness or attractive dog collar should be on your “to buy” list before you get your dog.


Like other pets, dogs also need grooming. Daily dog care involves regular brushing, cleaning, and checking for parasites. You can do this yourself or hire professional groomers, but some basics are needed. 

If your dog is well-behaved, a regular bath can get rid of odors and bring you and your pet closer. There are plenty of quality dog shampoo options depending on your dog’s fur and needs. Plus, it will help cut down on the costs of owning a dog.


Both puppies and adult dogs must be house-trained. Even if they’ve been potty-trained, older pups could benefit from a refresher course, especially if they are in a new environment.

One of the most important things about training is consistency in the commands you use and the reinforcements and rewards you offer. Sticking to dog-care rules might be tricky (again, those big, sad eyes — who can resist them), but it’s worth it in the long run. 

Obedience and house training are more than simply teaching your dog a few tricks and commands. It’s also about learning essential life skills, socializing, avoiding problematic behavior, and providing mental stimulation.

Experts even recommend taking obedience classes with your dog to strengthen your relationship and form a more lasting bond.

Dog Health Care Tips

Dogs are healthy animals in general, and if their basic needs are met, owners shouldn’t encounter any serious medical issues. Still, there are a few things responsible pet parents should be attentive to regarding their pooch and his health.

Oral Care

Sadly, many fur-parents overlook the importance of canine dental care. Owners should brush their dogs’ teeth, buy plenty of chew toys, and schedule frequent dental cleanings with the vet (the vet will decide how often).

In addition, to provide proper dog care in terms of dental hygiene and stop bad breath from becoming overpowering, regularly check if their gums and tongue are a healthy color.

Paw Care

Dogs’ paws go through a lot of wear and tear. Pups can get a lot of dirt stuck in their paws, and it’s your job to keep them clean. Wash the paws with a gentle pet-friendly soap, or get them a pair of booties if you see signs of dryness or irritation.

Another fantastic option is a paw care product like the Honest Paws Paw Care CBD Balm, which adds protection and care to sensitive areas like the paws and nose.

Joint Care

All that running has a severe impact on the dogs’ joints. Fortunately, there are some dog-care products — such as nutritional supplements — that your vet will prescribe to ensure maximum mobility.

You may want to consider getting a glucosamine supplement for dogs, a trusted turmeric dog supplement, or one that combines both. Another fantastic way to ease joint pain and improve joint health is by regularly giving your dog CBD oil.

Canines can experience stiff joints due to everyday activities, obesity, age, accidents, and trauma. However, certain breeds, such as Labs, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers are usually more prone to developing arthritis than others.

Visiting the Vet

Vets are your biggest ally when it comes to your pup’s health and happiness. Regular visits for vaccinations, dental cleaning, flea and tick prevention, and other health conditions is probably one of the essential tips on how to take care of a dog.  

Be on the Lookout for Warning Signs

Poor appetite, lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea are all signs that something is bothering your dog. Sometimes, canines will get a mild illness that will pass on its own.

However, a more severe condition could develop just as quickly. If you notice any of these signs or any abnormal behavior in your pet, consult a vet on how to proceed. 

Spayed Dog Care

All responsible owners should consider having their pets fixed to stop backyard breeding and unwanted pets ending up in animal shelters.

Female dogs should undergo surgery between five and ten months of age. With male dogs, on the other hand, it depends on the size.

Smaller dog breeds are neutered around six months of age, while bigger breeds should wait for a year or more before they are eligible for this procedure. 

Deciding to have your pet neutered or spayed is the hard part. Neutered dog care, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward:

  • You need to find a quiet, warm spot where your pet can recover from the anesthesia unless staying at the vet clinic overnight. 
  • Monitor the incision and — most importantly — make sure that your pet doesn’t cause more trauma by biting, licking, or scratching the wound. In other words, keep the cone on, no matter how silly it makes your dog look. Also, check the area around the incision twice a day for signs of infection. 
  • An indispensable part of post-neuter dog care is limiting food and water intake, as well as any strenuous activity for at least two weeks after the surgery. After this period, your doggie’s appetite and behavior will return to normal.
  • Don’t trust everything you hear. Pets won’t get fat because they’ve been spayed or neutered. They will if you don’t provide the right food and exercise.

Special Care

From puppies to seniors, some canines are more demanding than others.

Senior Dog Care

As dogs become older, there are a couple of considerations that owners should make:

  • Make sure your senior dog is on a proper diet. Older dogs are not as physically active as younger ones, making obesity a real issue among elderly canines. Feed your aging doggies fewer calories to prevent them from gaining too much weight.
  • Even though they are not as active, older dogs still need exercise. And while they can’t fetch and run like puppies anymore, you should still include regular walks in your elderly dog care routine.
  • Don’t forget about grooming and dental care. Dogs’ coats lose their sheen and shine the older they get, which means that it’s the parents’ job to stop tangles and the formation of dry, flaky, and irritated skin. Oral care becomes even more critical with elderly dogs. If teeth brushing and dental treats don’t work, make an appointment with a professional to have their teeth cleaned at least once a year.
  • Geriatric dog care includes comfort, too. Elderly dogs suffer from arthritis and joint issues, making it harder for them to move or jump. Soft bedding, comfy cushions, and easy access to its favorite spots, as well as to food and water, will make your aging pet’s life much easier.
  • Be patient. Older dogs are slower, and they often lose their hearing and vision. This results in them relying even more on their owner’s attention for their mental and emotional health. 

How to Take Care of a Dog in Heat

How your female dog reacts while she’s in heat varies from pet to pet. Some may become lethargic, while others get agitated. Be patient with your dog, keep an eye on her when you go outside (no off-the-leash walks) and make sure she’s well-fed.

Dogs typically go into heat twice a year, each period lasting for about three to four weeks. Female canines usually bleed for the first two weeks, so this might be a good time to keep them off the furniture. Otherwise, invest in doggie pants and diapers.

Pregnant Dog Care

Luckily, there isn’t much we humans need to do when taking care of your pregnant canine. Keep your pet on a well-balanced diet and gradually increase her calorie intake. More food means more weight, so don’t neglect the importance of exercise.

Short walks after 30 days of pregnancy should be enough to stop your dog from gaining too many pounds. Regular vet visits are another must for a healthy pregnancy. 

Pregnant Dog Care and Delivery

Dogs have a natural instinct when it comes to giving birth and looking after their young. All owners are required to do is provide a warm and cozy room for the little ones and make sure that the mommy feels comfortable and safe.

Of course, certain complications may arise. If the birth lasts for longer than 24 hours without any puppies, or the mother is becoming lethargic and starts to vomit, call the vet immediately. 

How to Take Care of a Puppy 

Few things in life can bring you as much joy as a small puppy. With that in mind, taking care of baby dogs should be one of the easiest and most enjoyable tasks you’ll ever have.

To thrive, puppies require proper nutrition, training, exercise, and lots and lots of attention. 

Puppies also need to get vaccinated to prevent the development of diseases. This is particularly important, seeing as many vaccine-preventable diseases could affect small doggies, some of which could spread to humans. 

How to Take Care of a Dog With Parvo

One of the most common diseases that regular vaccination can prevent is canine parvoviral enteritis, i.e., parvo.

There is a treatment in the form of antibiotics and plasma transfusions to boost the immune system. Still, even with meticulous care and medicine, your puppy may not survive.

If your dog has parvo, make sure it’s isolated from other pets, as this is a highly contagious disease that spreads incredibly quickly.  Keep it hydrated, provide round-the-clock care and monitoring, and hope for the best.

Emergency Dog Care

What qualifies as an emergency? These are some conditions among dogs that require your immediate attention:

  • GVD and bloating
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Heatstroke
  • Seizures
  • Choking
  • Severe bleeding
  • Exposure to toxins

The first and most important thing to do in an emergency is not to panic. It’s probably best to learn what to do in a doggie emergency before the emergency happens, but if this isn’t the case, get a vet on the phone, and they will talk you through the necessary steps. 

Holistic Dog Care

The holistic approach to canine care looks at your pet’s overall health. It uses a combination of alternative and traditional medicine. Put simply, holistic vets use lab tests and medication, but they also employ acupuncture, herbal remedies, and other forms of alternative medicine.

Although holistic pup care hasn’t been fully regulated, there are plenty of anecdotal accounts of the success of this approach, especially in terms of nutrition and diets.

If your dog suffers from a condition that traditional medical care can’t fix, the holistic method might be worth trying out.

Paralyzed Dog Care

Dogs can become paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries and issues or neurological diseases. However, just because a dog can’t walk anymore doesn’t mean its life is over.

Nevertheless, potential owners should be aware that these dogs demand special care and attention, so consider all options and consequences before you take on this long-term commitment.

If you decide to take care of a paralyzed dog, here are a few helpful dog-care tips:

  • Buy a suitable mobility harness or cart to help your pet move around.
  • Monitor their bladder as some paralyzed dogs have problems urinating.
  • To avoid a potential mess in your house, get a doggie diaper.
  • Paralyzed dogs are prone to skin damage and sores. Your vet will prescribe suitable skincare products for your pet.
  • Provide food, water, and exercise, just like you would with any other pet. 

Special Breed Care

No two dogs are the same. So before you welcome a new member into your family, take a closer look at the special requirements certain dog breeds might have. 

Bernese Mountain Dog Care

These dogs are one of the biggest and most affectionate canine breeds in the world.

Because of their size, they need a special feeding regime (i.e., no treats) and regular grooming of their thick coat, which does shed quite a lot. Those of you who have prior experience with long-haired dogs won’t find this difficult at all. 

For example, if you ever cared for a Newfoundland Dog, it would be easier for you to learn how to care for a Bernese Mountain Dog. However, whether or not you have experience with Newfoundland Dogs, you will still have to learn quite a lot. 

Another point to consider is the joint care in Berners. This dog’s joints don’t fully form until it’s two years old, so make sure not to let a Berner puppy jump or run on hard surfaces until it’s mature enough.

Husky Dog Care

Huskies are incredibly active canines, which is why they need extra exercise to keep their energy levels under control. They tend to shed a lot as well, so brushing and grooming are usually a part of the daily routine for Husky owners.

Huskies are quite sensitive to heat, which is not surprising given their country of origin. Therefore, if you live in warmer climates, keep your pet out of the sun and only take it out for walks in the shade or when the weather is cooler.

Maltese Dog Care

These are some of the unique requirements for these adorable tiny pups:

  • They are super sensitive to heat and cold. Limit walks when the weather is too cold or hot.
  • Experts recommend bathing your Maltese once every three weeks to keep her magnificent coat looking clean, silky, and shiny.
  • Trim their ear hair. Excess hair and lodged wax in the Maltese’s ears can cause an infection.
  • This dog breed is prone to tear staining, so experts on small dog care advise owners to clean their eyes daily with warm water. Give your Maltese pet only bottled water because the high mineral content in tap water makes staining worse. If these issues persist, contact your vet to check for allergies, clogged tear ducts, or other health conditions that might be causing tear and face staining. 

Caring for a Labrador Retriever

Labs have held the title of the most popular dog breed in the US for years. Still, these dogs need particular care because they are prone to obesity.

How to take care of a dog such as these loveable Labs? Up the exercise levels and lower the number of calories. Cut down on the doggie treats as well.

Caring for a Basset Hound

The long ears, wrinkled face, and droopy eyes make this dog breed one-of-a-kind, but these are also the reasons why it’s on the list of high-maintenance dog breeds.

Their skin folds need cleaning as often as possible to stop the growth of bacteria. The eyes and ears also need regular cleaning to prevent infections from damaging your doggie’s eyesight and hearing.

Chow Chow Dog Care

Chow chows are notorious as being a magnet for fleas and ticks, which have a lot of hiding places in this breed’s thick coat. It’s pretty standard for their owners to deal with an actual infestation before they even realize that their dog has fleas.

Other health problems that commonly plague Chows include eye problems, difficulty breathing, joint problems, hip and elbow dysplasia, and circulation issues.


How many times a day does a dog need to go out?

Every dog is unique and has its own special needs. However, vets recommend letting your pup out to “do his business” at least three to five times a day.

Experts warn that adult dogs shouldn’t go for longer than six to eight hours before going outside to relieve themselves.

Are dogs easy to take care of?

This totally depends on what you consider to be easy. Dogs need love, care, and attention. They need walks, shelter, food, and play. You also need to take them to the vet.

For some people, all of this might seem like a huge responsibility, but for others, it’s a part of the joys of owning a pet.

Can a dog eat a banana?

Dogs can eat bananas, and sometimes this fruit is recommended by vets due to its high potassium levels, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.

You can mash a banana into dog food but be warned — bananas are rich in sugar and should only be given to your dog as a special treat. Banana peels are not toxic to dogs, but since canines have a hard time digesting them, they can cause an internal blockage. 

What not to feed your dog?

Certain foods are just not suitable for dogs. In fact, some foods may be downright dangerous for your pup. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocados
  • Bacon and other kinds of fatty meat
  • Candy and gum
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Garlic and onions
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Raw eggs
  • Salty food (pretzels and popcorn with too much salt)
  • Sugar
  • Xylitol (a class of sweetener known as sugar alcohol)
  • Yeast dough

How long can you legally leave a dog in the house?

Unfortunately, it’s not illegal to leave your dog alone, although unattended dogs in public can be impounded. It may not be against the law, but you shouldn’t leave your dog alone for too long.

Adult dogs can be left alone for six hours. If they manage it well, you can gradually increase their alone time to eight hours. Little puppies need checking up more often — every two to four hours.

If you are away from home for long stretches, make sure your dog has some toys to keep it occupied or another pet to play with.

What makes a dog happy?

Nothing makes a dog happier than spending time with its owner. Walking, playing, running — these are activities that pups love to do with their parents.

Other activities that bring dogs joy include chewing, sniffing, and playing with other doggies. The bottom line is, a happy dog is one that is healthy, well-fed, well-cared for, and on the receiving end of your love and affection.

Why hasn’t my dog peed all day?

Urinary retention in dogs can be traced to several causes, including obstructions in the bladder or urethra, or a urinary tract infection, which is quite common among canines.

The inability to urinate is a severe condition. Imagine how you’d feel if you hadn’t peed all day. If you notice or suspect that your doggo is suffering from a UTI, take him to the vet.

What happens if a dog holds it too long?

Urinary retention can lead to toxins and bacteria building up in the urine and cause the formation of bladder stones or weaken the bladder muscles. It can even result in urinary cancer in some rare cases, although this condition is very rare in dogs.

How long can dogs hold their poop?

Dogs usually need to “go to the toilet” 30 minutes after eating, but they can hold it in for much longer. Doggies go out once or twice a day, but some pups poop three or four times daily.

If your dog hasn’t pooped in more than two days, they could be suffering from constipation.

What’s the most low-maintenance dog?

The jury is still out on this one. Many believe that Chihuahuas are the easiest pets to take care of. They’re small, can fit anywhere, and have smooth coats, which means less dog hair on your furniture.

Their small size and smooth fur make grooming easy as well. Chihuahuas are entirely independent, and they don’t need a lot of exercise and activities — a brief walk will do just fine. 

Which dogs can be left alone?

If you have a job or activities that keep you out of the house for longer periods, these are the breeds for you:

  • Basset Hound
  • Basenji
  • Bullmastiff
  • Chihuahua
  • French bulldog
  • Greyhound
  • Shar-Pei

How can I stop my dog’s diarrhea fast?

The first step in stopping mild diarrhea in healthy adult dogs who are showing no other symptoms is to keep them hydrated. Give them water, chicken or beef broth, or rice water. Keep your dog on a 24-hour fast and reintroduce solid foods gradually.

You can also give them an intestinal protectant such as kaolin clay and pectin or Pepto-Bismol. However, consult a vet before administering any medication. If the diarrhea persists or is accompanied by vomiting, take your pup to the vet to avoid more severe complications.

Can dogs eat bacon?

You can give your pup bacon once in a while as a treat. Try to avoid salty foods, though, because too much bacon and fatty meats could lead to obesity and heart conditions.

To Sum Up

Dogs are awesome. They are loyal to a fault and will stick with you no matter what. So why shouldn’t we give them the best dog care and nurture possible?

After all, pups are probably the only living things that love humans more than they love themselves. And for that alone, they deserve all that we can give them and then some. 

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