How to Care for Boxers
Boxers are playful, energetic dogs with sleek bodies and a perpetual look of concern. They make great family pets due to their protective nature and temperament. If you have a boxer and you are wondering how best to care for him, there are several things to keep in mind. Boxers require many of the same things that all dogs do, but boxers are also more prone to certain illnesses and have other special needs as well.
Feeding Your Boxer
1. Select a high-quality dog food. Choosing an appropriate, high-quality food for your boxer is essential to his health. There are many high-quality commercial foods, but some dog foods may not provide the best nutrition for your pet. Some things to keep in mind when choosing a dog food include:
- Look for a statement that the dog food meets AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) requirements.
- Get a food that is appropriate for your boxer’s age. For example, if your boxer is still a puppy, then make sure that you are feeding him puppy food. If your boxer is a senior, then get a senior dog food.
2. Feed your boxer on a regular schedule. It is important to maintain a regular feeding schedule for your boxer. The number of times that you will need to feed your boxer each day depends on his age. For example:
- puppies between eight to 12 weeks require four meals per day
- puppies three to six months old require three meals per day
- puppies six months to a year old need two meals per day
- dogs older than one year old only need one meal per day, but you may want to feed your boxer two meals per day since most boxers are more prone to bloating
3. Provide plenty of fresh water for your boxer. Dogs need to have access to clean, fresh water at all times. Provide a large water bowl for your boxer and change it a couple times per day. Check it now and then to make sure that it is full. You should also wash it once per day to ensure that it is free of bacteria that may make your boxer sick.
4. Give treats to your boxer. Treats are a great way to let your boxer know that he is being good and to show him that you care. Provide your boxer with a couple of treats each day. Just make sure that treats do not make up more than 10% of your boxer’s total food intake. Some good treats to give your boxer include:
- dog biscuits
- cooked eggs
- sweet potatoes
- cottage cheese
5. Steer clear of danger foods. Some foods are toxic to dogs, so you should avoid these foods. These foods can cause your boxer to get sick, have seizures, experience kidney failure, or even die. Foods that you should never feed your dog include:
- citrus fruits
- caffeinated beverages
- macadamia nuts
- raw meat
- raw eggs
- raw bones
- salty foods
Keeping Your Boxer Healthy and Safe
1. Take your boxer for regular check-ups. Regular veterinary check-ups will help you to keep your boxer as healthy as possible. If you do not already have a veterinarian, find one and make an appointment for your boxer to have a check-up. Having a veterinarian will make it easier to find help if your boxer ever encounters a serious problem.
- Ask about having your boxer spayed or neutered. If you do not plan to breed your boxer, then get your dog spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering help to keep the pet population down and can also help prevent behavioral problems.
- Make sure that your boxer is up to date on vaccinations. Your boxer will need to have vaccinations when he is a puppy and then continue to get boosters to protect him throughout his life.
2. Watch for signs of a problem. Boxers are more prone than other dogs to certain conditions, so make sure that you watch for signs that something may be wrong. Take your boxer to see a veterinarian right away if you suspect that something is wrong. Some common conditions to watch out for include:
- Heart defects including boxer cardiomyopathy. Boxer cardiomyopathy can cause an irregular heartbeat, fainting, and shortness of breath. It may also cause sudden death. If you boxer seems lethargic, breathless, or if he faints, then take him to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Cancer of the skin and other body parts. White boxers are at an even higher risk of developing skin cancer. If you notice any unusual spots or lesions on your boxer’s body, then take him to the vet to have them checked.
- Eyeball ulceration. This condition results in a deep ulcer of the cornea that causes redness, watery eyes, squinting due to light sensitivity, and discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, then take your boxer to see a vet right away.
- Gingival hyperplasia. This condition causes excess gum tissue to grow in the mouth. The tissue may have a lumpy appearance and usually needs to be removed due to the risk of cancer. Take your boxer to see a vet if you notice excess gum tissue in his mouth.
- Snoring and difficulty breathing. This is due to the boxer’s small nose and pushed in face, which can make it hard to breath. If you notice that your boxer snores or wheezes, then take him to see a veterinarian.
3. Groom your boxer regularly. Boxers have short hair so grooming them is quite easy. You can just brush your boxer a few times per week to keep his coat glossy. As you brush your boxer, check for things like lumps, lesions, or tender spots. Tell your boxer’s veterinarian about anything that you find as these may be signs of a problem.
4. Brush your boxer’s teeth. Brushing your boxer’s teeth is essential to protect him from gum disease and tartar buildup. Brushing your boxer’s teeth once per day is ideal, but even a couple times per week will help to keep his teeth and gums healthy.
- Make sure that you get a special dog toothpaste to brush your boxer’s teeth. Do not use human toothpaste for your boxer because the fluoride is toxic to dogs.
5. Provide soft bedding for your boxer. When your boxer wants to sleep, he will need a designated spot to lie down. Make sure that you provide your boxer with soft bedding, such as a dog bed or a couple of folded blankets. Wash your boxer’s bedding once per week to keep it clean.
6. Train your boxer to go potty outside. If your boxer is not yet house trained, then you will need to put some time and energy into teaching him these habits. Some good things to remember when house training your boxer include:
- Maintain a regular schedule for your boxer. Take your boxer outside at set times throughout the day, such as first thing and after he eats his meals. Your boxer should have a chance to go potty about once every two hours.
- Designate a spot in the yard for going potty. Decide on a patch of grass in your yard and take your boxer to that spot every time you let him out.
- Praise your boxer for going outside. Give your boxer some praise and a treat for going potty outside.
- Do not punish your boxer for going potty inside. If you notice that your boxer urinates or defecates inside the house, do not hit, yell at, or otherwise punish your boxer. Just clean up the mess and take your boxer outside.
- Watch your boxer for signs that he has to go. If you notice that you boxer is pacing or acting like he has to go, then take him outside right away. You may even want to keep your boxer on a leash when you are home in order to be able to monitor him and take him out as needed.
7. Consider crate training your boxer. Crate training can be an effective way to provide your boxer with a safe space to retreat to if he becomes overwhelmed or just needs a bit of down time. You can also use a crate to house train your boxer or to prevent him from chewing on furniture. If you decide to crate train your boxer, keep some things in mind.
- A crate should never be used as a way to punish your boxer or it will not be an effective training device. The crate should be a safe, pleasant place for your dog.
- Your boxer’s crate should be large enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. It should not be too small or too big.
- The crate should have some soft bedding, such as a towel or blanket. Keeping a favorite toy in your boxer’s crate is also a good idea.
- You should keep your dog’s crate in a high traffic area of your home, such as the living room or kitchen.
- When you are home, keep the door open so that your boxer can retreat to the crate as desired.
Entertaining Your Boxer
1. Play with your boxer. Boxers have a playful nature and they enjoy spending time around people. Regular play time will help to keep your boxer entertained and happy, so make time to play with your boxer every day. You can play a game of fetch, play tug-of-war, or do whatever your box likes best.
- Try to play with your boxer for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day.
2. Take your boxer for walks. Daily walks are essential for your boxer’s good health and they will benefit your health as well. Even if you only have time for a couple of quick walks each day, your boxer will enjoy this time with you.
- If you do not have time to walk your boxer every day, then consider hiring someone else to do so. Boxers are active dogs that require daily exercise.
3. Give your boxer plenty of toys. Toys can also help to stimulate your boxer’s mind and prevent boredom. Choose strong rubber toys that can withstand your boxer’s powerful teeth and jaws. Your boxer may also enjoy puzzle toys since boxers are good at solving problems.
4. Teach your boxer basic commands. Training your boxer may not seem like it will entertain him, but boxers are intelligent dogs that respond well to training. Start by teaching your boxer how to sit, stay, speak, and heel and then progress to more advanced commands.
- You may also consider enrolling yourself and your boxer in an obedience course to get professional help with teaching your boxer basic obedience.
- Keep in mind that boxers are bored by repetition. Try switching back and forth between commands and giving new commands now and then as well to keep your boxer interested.
- Get tags for your boxer in case he ever gets out of your yard or gets lost. This will make it easier for anyone who finds your dog to return him to you.