The Well-Equipped Dog



There are many items you can buy in aid of caring for your dog, including apparel, dishes and feeders, beds, dog doors, food, treats, medicated lotions and oils, electric trimmers, scissors and clippers, books, flea and tick control products, shampoos and conditioners, brushes and combs, gates and barriers, carriers and crates, other cleaning products, hair pick-ups, tie-outs, collars, tags, harnesses, toys, computer software, dog houses, training supplies, dental products, leads, waste disposal aids, and dietary supplements.

For any dog, the minimum recommended list is a stout collar and tag with your name, address, and phone number including area code, a leash, nail clippers, dog dishes, and lots of toys.

There are three main reasons to buy such equipment for your dog: possession, safety, and enrichment.

POSSESSIONS:
Dogs are most comfortable with routine, and most insecure about frequent change. By providing your dog with his own food bowl, his own bed, and his own grooming brush, your dog gets used to having those items around, and familiar with what they are for. He is more likely to disdain food dropped on the floor if he knows that "his" food goes in his dog dish, and more likely to sleep in a strange place if provided with his usual bed.

Having his own possessions also gives your dog a place in your family, which he considers his pack. Dogs understand status, and appreciate having items that belong to them, as proof of their status. This sounds a little advanced for a creature like a dog, but is nevertheless true. Teaching a small child to leave the dog's food dish alone proves to a dog that he has some value, since his status merits the consideration of ownership. The dog doesn't actually care about his property, of course, but can appreciate, in a very vague way, that he is important enough within his pack that his stuff be unmolested.

SAFETY:
This is the simplest, but best, reason to buy equipment for your dog. The outside world is full of speeding cars, unfamiliar animals, pesticides, and even pet thieves. All dogs must have sturdy collars with tags, and be walked on a leash. Lost pets without tags usually end up being put to sleep at the shelter when they lose their way home. Dogs who are allowed to run loose while on a walk may dart in front of a car, fall into holes or ravines, or approach an unfriendly animal, even in play, all with disasterous results.

Grooming supplies also fall into the Safety category. Dogs can develop matted hair and sores on their skin if left unbrushed, dental problems if they don't have their teeth cleaned often enough, and can scratch human family members accidentally if their nails are left unclipped. Buying and using the proper grooming equipment is a very important part of owning a dog.

ENRICHMENT:
This term is most often used at zoos, to describe the objects introduced into habitats which keep the animals engaged and interested in their environment. It also applies to the equipment you provide your dog. Dogs are curious and intelligent animals who want to explore and enjoy their environment. New toys are an excellent way to keep your dog's mind engaged and interested.

Dog's will play with whatever they can find, be it a sock on the floor, an extension cord, or a rawhide chew. Which of these would you rather your dog play with? If that rawhide chew is a few days old, you can bet that the sock and the cord will be more interesting. Provide new toys frequently, and try to find those that will make your dog think a little. An example of these would be the popular Kong toys, which are hollow rubber toys, easily filled with kibble or another treat. The dog must work at getting the treat out of the toy, which interests and rewards him when he plays with it. Much better than a simple dog biscuit! You should also provide interactive toys, such as tug-of-war ropes and balls for fetching, and play with your dog often.

Buying the proper equipment for your dog can be expensive, but is an essential part of dog ownership.

Copyright 2001, Steph Bairey -- All Rights Reserved

Steph Bairey is a web developer and pet owner, with 25 years of pet
care experience and 30-40 pets at any one time. Get immediate,
reliable answers to your pet care questions at Steph's website,
Practical Pet Care, located at http://www.practical-pet-care.com.

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