It took me a little while to figure this whole “dog thing” out. Until 2010 I was a cat person and let me tell you, cats are easy. Give a cat a bowl of food, a bowl of water, and a litter box and they are happy. If you really want to spoil them you toss them a little catnip now and then but that’s it. Simple. They do their own thing and are really pretty independent creatures. We understood each other. It was great.
Then I fell in love with a man who had a dog. Then I started to feel guilty that we only had one dog because, as everyone knows, dogs are pack animals. We got a second dog. I suddenly became a person with no cats and two dogs. That was 5 years ago so I thought it would be a good time now to share with you 5 things I’ve learned that you must own if you have a dog (one thing for each year).
A Dog Crate
I know there are a lot of crate-haters out there but I firmly believe a crate is essential. It’s their little (ok, HUGE) piece of the house. I actually have two crates (one for each dog) and they are decked out with pillows and blankets. Chihuahua’s love to burrow so blankets are a crate necessity. My dogs sleep in their crate. In fact, I can just say “it’s bed-time” and my dogs will jump up from wherever they are, run into the bedroom, and curl up in their crates. They know that’s their territory. Besides, I’ve been told that in the ‘pack’ the ‘pack leader’ usually sleeps at a higher elevation than the rest of the dogs. If your dog sleeps with you then you’re elevating them to an equal status, that’s not good.
The Right Food & Water Bowls
Don’t snicker and think this is obvious because it isn’t (not really). First, you shouldn’t use plastic bowls because of the possibility of toxins. There is no regulation on plastics for animal bowls so your pups could be licking up some pretty gnarly stuff. Pick up ceramic or stainless steel bowls for your furbabies instead. If you have a large breed, then pick up bowls that sit in a riser because it’s better for the dog’s posture and digestion.
My dogs were incredibly hard to train which I never would have imagined from such small breeds. Little did I know that the chihuahua and the dachshund are two of the most stubborn hard-to-train breeds out there so I really got screwed on both dogs. I tried a million treats to train my dogs and I found that some were better than others but I really hit the dog treat jackpot when I picked up these CORE Beef, Bison & Blueberry Protein Bars from Chewy.com last month. My dogs went insane for them and in a month we were able to lockdown “Sit”, “Stay”, and “Leave it.” I’m pretty proud of my boys! They have finally found a treat worth obeying for, I just break them into small pieces so we can work on a command multiple times.
A Collar / Harness and Leash
Yesterday on Oddly Lovely, Jenn from HelloRigby shared a post about 5 things that most dog owners hate. In her post she included retractable leashes which bummed me out. I know that dog experts hate them and I know most people hate them but I love them. Then again, combined my dogs don’t reach 20lbs so it’s kind of a non-issue for me but I’d agree that for anyone else it’s a good idea to use a standard leash with a loop at the end of your hand. I’m also a huge proponent of a dog harness instead of a collar because I don’t like having the pull around the dog’s neck. If they get startled and run or hide or act unusual I hate having my control hold around their necks so I bought my dog’s harnesses. I recommend that you do the same, even if you have big dogs.
Lots and Lots of Patience and Love
Like I mentioned earlier, cats are easy. Cats don’t really want anything to do with you most of the time but dogs? Dogs want your undivided love and attention AT ALL TIMES. It can be a bit overwhelming to people like me sometimes. I work full-time outside the home and then I work part-time at home on my blog and my freelance writing career. My dogs sometimes try my patience and it’s been critical for me to be aware of the time I’m spending away from home and the time I’m spending work on other projects and be sure to schedule some ‘love-time’ with the dogs. They need it. We’ll go on long walks (helps to tire them out), we’ll play 20 minutes of fetch or tug-o’-war, sometimes we’ll just sit out on the back porch and hang out together. Either way, make sure you have lots of love for your dogs.
Can you think of any other must-haves before bringing a new pup home? Tweet me @ashleyfromhp and be sure to pin this to your puppy boards!