The nine nonos of Dachshund ownership

I won't go so far as to say that you need to require every member of your family to memorize and recite back to you the following list of Dachshund no-no's, but it won't hurt to post this list somewhere and make sure that everyone has read it at least once:

1 Don't overwhelm your Dachshund. Dachshunds are relatively small dogs and can be easily scared or confused by lots of people, loud noises, and chaos. Give your Dachshund a place to go away from the family uproar. A kennel or crate is a perfect Dachshund haven.

i Don't overfeed your Dachshund. Dachshunds are prone to getting chubby, which wreaks havoc on their spines. Cool it on the treats and people food. Use pieces of kibble out of your Dachshund's daily food ration for treats and training, or vary her diet a bit with healthy people food like small pieces of raw carrots, broccoli, apples, and berries. Puppies love chasing a wayward, rolling blueberry around the kitchen!

However, never give grapes, raisins, onions, or chocolate — these can be toxic to dogs (more on these and other hazards in Chapter 6).

1 Don't skimp on quality food. Buy the best food you can find.

Ask your vet for recommendations. Dog food quality is often directly related to dog food price, although you may occasionally hear otherwise. The more natural and the more meat, the better. I don't believe it hurts to add some healthy, fresh, whole human food to your pet's diet, either — up to about 30 percent of the meal and primarily meat — as long as you adjust kibble portion size accordingly. (See Chapter 8 for more on what to feed your Dachshund.)

1 Don't be a couch potato. Dachshunds need exercise (just like you do), so don't neglect that daily walk. Some playtime in the fenced backyard is great for your Dachshund's health, too, and helps keep obesity at bay.

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1 Don't ignore your Dachshund. Dachsies thrive on human attention and affection, plus they look to you for guidance on good behavior. If you decide to bring a Dachshund into your life, decide to spend time training and simply being with your dog each day.

1 Don't let your Dachshund escape. Dachshunds are proficient diggers and can be pretty clever escape artists. They also can't be trusted off leash near traffic, no matter how well trained you think they are. They are hounds and will follow a scent, oblivious to danger. You're in charge and must keep your Dachshund safely enclosed or on a leash. Otherwise, you could lose your friend.

1 Don't assume that your Dachshund can speak English or read your mind. Your friend needs teaching so she can learn the house rules and proper behavior. That's your job as the human end of the Dachshund-human relationship. Figure out how to train your Dachshund and work on it every day. Puppy obedience classes are a great place to start. For more on training a Dachsie, check out Chapters 13 and 14.

1 Don't skip the vet visits. All dogs need routine veterinary evaluations in addition to their vaccinations in the first year. As your Dachsie ages, these checkups become even more important. Keep your pet as healthy as possible by fully utilizing your vet's expertise to catch problems before they turn serious.

1 Don't ignore a yelp of pain or any sudden signs that your Dachshund is losing the use of her legs. When an acute disc herniation occurs, time is of the essence. Waiting it out to see whether it goes away can mean paralysis for your dog. If you can't get her to a vet immediately, put her in her crate and don't let her move. (Movement can injure the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis when the herniation could otherwise have been repaired.) Then get her to the vet or emergency-care facility ASAP. (For more on canine intervertebral disk disease and what to do if your Dachshund suffers from disc herniation, see Chapter 17.)

Your vet may have additional helpful tips for family members about life with a new Dachshund. Choosing a vet with Dachshund expertise is best. He will know from experience what to look for.

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