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You’ve memorized every line in her squishy face, the way her paws twitch when she’s sleeping and the smile she flashes when you boop her nose. And while it might seem like you know everything there is to know about your little fur baby, we’re willing to bet a few things have slipped through the cracks. (Happens to the best of us.) No worries, though. We’ve got you. Below, five things every pet parent absolutely needs to be aware of.

dog sitting on couch at home
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The Everyday Household Items That Are Canine No-No’s

Before little Lou came into your life, you could leave an entire unwrapped chocolate bar on the coffee table without hesitation. But now things are different. Sure, your favorite sweet treat, a rogue grape or—gasp!—a sock that missed the hamper is harmless to you, but these things can be potentially dangerous (and in some cases fatal) to your dog. That’s why it’s essential to know what common foods and household items—like cleaning agents, children’s toys, small articles of clothing, medications and open garbage bins—are bad news for a curious pup and need to be stored safely out of reach. Psst: That includes toxic-to-dogs houseplants and flowers like lavender, aloe and daisies, so consider swapping them for nontoxic ones.

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High-Quality Food Is a Must

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” When you eat healthier, you feel better. The same goes for your pup. So opt for a food like Merrick Backcountry, which is packed with ingredients like protein-rich kibble and whole pieces of raw, freeze-dried meat, poultry or fish. Every single bag is cooked in an organic-certified USA kitchen and provides dogs with the nutritional benefits of a raw diet they would have discovered in the wild. Plus, it comes in a variety of recipes that include proteins like beef, lamb, venison and duck, so your dog won’t get tired of eating the same thing over and over again.

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Their Habits, Behaviors and Body Language Say a Lot

As capable as your foxhound may look, your domesticated carnivore relies entirely on you for food…and basically everything else. So it’s up to you to keep on an eye on his habits, behaviors and body language to tell you everything you need to know. For example, if he automatically lies on his back and exposes his belly, that means he really trusts you. Alternately, if his body is cowered and his ears are back, he may feel anxious. If at 5:58 p.m. Foxy is staring into your soul from across the room, you know it’s time for dinner. Overall, learn how he acts when he’s upset, happy, scared or sick so you know the difference between a crying pup that just can’t wait for dinner and a dog that might need to see the vet.

dog sleeping in bed
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Their Comfort Depends on You

Your doggo’s comfort is your responsibility. If your pup is small or doesn’t have a thick coat, keep a doggy sweatshirt on hand in case she gets cold. If he has long legs, put his food and water bowls on a raised stand so he doesn’t strain his neck when eating and drinking. Make sure you get an appropriate bed too. Your dog should be able to lie stretched out on her side without hanging off. And pick a style that appeals to her interests; if Scout loves to burrow, consider a “cave”-style bed.

girl sitting with dog in park
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A Strong Bond Is Crucial from the Get-Go

Create a connection from the moment you bring your pup home: Start him on regular walks, daily training sessions and ample affection. (See above re: belly rubs.) You want your dog to feel calm and relaxed around you (rather than anxious or scared) and know he can trust you with anything. Starting this positive bond from the outset will greatly affect your relationship, and trust, over time.

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