I find it funny that anyone can get a dog; but not everyone understands dog behavior. Many people have absolutely no idea what to do with a dog; how to teach it, what to teach it, feeding requirements, health or grooming needs. But we as humans seem compelled to have a dog, even if we have no idea; we are a strange bunch. Anyhow, what are the basic requirements of having a dog? Let me just say this that love; compassion and desire to do the best for your dog is above all else.
One of the first things should be to learn the basic fundamentals of dog behavior; that way you can sort of muddle through the communication part. It really helps to know what your dog is trying to tell you. I highly recommend a book from one of the many "positive" dog gurus. Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Karen Pryor and Jean Donaldson. These are the people I turn to, true dog lovers. You should train your dog, again get a book from these people. The minimum basics for me is sit, down, stay, come, leave it and the all important boundary training. These simple commands let you communicate just that much better with your pooch.
There is the exercise and socialization aspects of canine guardianship. These are very important; both equally but in the beginning socialization is the most important thing of all. Socialization should be done as young as possible, skip this part and pay the price. It is completely unfair not to socialize your dog; it is time consuming yes but a must. Every dog is different so how you go about socializing will depend very much on your pooch, but don't skip this step. Exercise is very important if you want a nice relaxed pooch at home. Imagine just sitting in your house all day and never getting out to see the world, pretty awful eh?
Next there is the feeding issue; please for the sake of your dog research the different foods. There is not only dog food to research but real food, raw food and every different aspect of each. There is a huge difference in quality of dog foods; buy the absolute best you can for your dog. If you are interested in better nutrition for your dog; then look into a real food diet or raw, your dog will thank you.
Grooming is an important factor as well, it is very easy once you learn how. Even smooth coated breeds need ear cleaning, the occasional brush, teeth cleaning, nail cutting and a once over every so often to make sure all is well. I scrape my dogs teeth, they are use to it and don't seem to mind too too much. At 10, 13.5, and 14.5 teeth are a very important part of health now. I cut nails every week or so; this is something you should start early. With my poodles; they get their ears plucked out, not something they enjoy so much but again a necessity with their breed to avoid ear infections. I pluck just enough to let the air in there.
And last but not least is health; many of the things above have a huge impact on your dogs health. But just like the other items you should research the health requirements of your dog or specific breed. There are vaccinations, check ups and blood panels to have done. There is alot of discussion now about over vaccinating; I truly believe we give our dogs far too many vaccinations and it is leading to health issues; do some reading.
And please research flea and tick treatments before putting it on your dog. Don't just believe what anyone tells you or what you read, dig in and get the goods. The more research you do the better canine guardian you will become and that my friend is a fact.