General Dog Care

Food and water

Dogs must be provided with appropriate quantities of nutritious food and access to clean drinking water. Owners should ensure that dogs maintain normal body condition by feeding portion sizes that are appropriate for the size, age and fitness level of the dog. Significant health problems can be caused by both over and under feeding.

Shelter and housing

The environment in which a dog is kept should be well ventilated, designed and situated so that extremes of hot and cold are avoided. Dogs should have access to a hygienic comfortable place to sleep. The area in which a dog spends most of its time should allow for freedom of movement. This area should also be contained to prevent roaming. Prolonged confinement away from people and the prolonged tethering of dogs on chains are both associated with significant behavioural problems in dogs and should be avoided.

Health care

Owners should follow a preventative health care plan that includes vaccination, parasite control and annual health checks to support their dog’s health. Breeds of dogs with non-shedding coats also require regular grooming to prevent discomfort, coat and skin problems.

Veterinary care must be sought without delay if a dog shows signs of being injured or unwell. These signs include being reluctant/unable to eat or move, lameness, excessive scratching or licking at a part of the body, frequent head shaking, development of a rash, dribbling, hair loss, weight loss, vomiting and changes in toilet habits.

Exercise

This should be appropriate to the dog’s age, breed and health status. In general terms, healthy adult dogs should be exercised at least once daily.

Mental health

Understanding the psychological needs of a dog is as important as the physical well-being of the dog. Dogs are naturally pack animals and most do not enjoy being left alone. They also like to explore, with regular walks often the highlight of their day. Owners should ensure that their dog has regular opportunities to experience activities that it enjoys (e.g. playing, exercising, sniffing along the grass verges, chewing on dog toys and spending time with owners). Owners should seek to eliminate or mitigate experiences that negatively impact dog welfare, such as those that cause anxiety, pain and boredom. This includes being left alone for long periods of time and the use of negative reinforcement methods for training.