This guide provides a list of what might be some of the most important tips and reminders for being a responsible dog owner.
We’ve covered a range of considerations from pre-buying, to owning a puppy, to exercising and stimulation, and more.
Let’s take a look.
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
Most Important Tips For Being A Responsible Dog Owner
We’ve listed tips for being a responsible owners across different areas below.
Note that this is not a full list, but just a starters list, and there might be other responsibilities you have to be aware of when owning a dog.
What we see is that there are considerations, planning, commitment and investment (time and money) that goes into owning a dog across:
The pre-buying and research stage
The buying from a breeder stage
The puppy stage
The adolescent stage
The adult stage
The senior stage
And, if the pet has to be re-homed for a genuine and unavoidable reason – this stage too
Owning a dog should be a lifelong commitment (for the length of the dog’s life), and should not under any circumstances be an impulse purchase, or a purchase made without serious consideration that it will benefit and be desirable both the owner and the dog.
Make sure you can make a lifelong commitment to owning a dog before you buy – consider things such as cost, job security, starting a family, suitable accommodation, free time, and so on
Do your research on whether your lifestyle is compatible with the dog you want
Do your research on reputable and responsible dog breeders before buying a dog
Do your research on dog breed
Make sure to get some type of guarantee, paperwork and any relevant documentation from breeders about information on the dog, and responsibilities of the owner and the breeder in the event there is any issues
Do some research on dogs in general, their nature and drives, and understand they are animals and don’t behave like humans
Make sure you take your dog to get registered, and microchipped if required
Get the mandatory puppy health check ups, vaccinations, and so on
Get spaying and/or neutering if required
Take a dog for regularly vet check ups during their lifetime
Consider whether pet insurance is a good option
Be aware of what might be some genetic health conditions common to certain breeds
Be aware of the most common health conditions that all dogs might experience in their lifetime
Pay attention to your dog’s body, body language and mood and pick on when they might be sick, in pain or needing help in some way
Cost & Finances
Have the financial means to care for a dog. Just some of the costs might involve buying from a breeder, vet bills, registration, supplies like collars and leashes, food, training, grooming, insurance, toys, and so on
Training, Obedience & Socialization
Do proper potty training, house training, crating training (if required), and chewing/destruction training when you first bring your puppy home
Take your puppy to puppy school
Take your adolescent dog to basic obedience training, and make sure your socialize them with other dogs and humans, and expose them to a range of external stimuli to get them comfortable with everything
Through the first few years of a dog’s life, make sure you observe and assess their behavior around other dogs, friends, family, strangers and visitors to the house. Identify areas where the dog may be a hazard to others, and do something to minimize or eliminate that risk (training, or consulting an animal expert)
Make sure a dog is trained specifically in common problem areas like being OK with having food and bones taken away from or awarded to them, and not being overly territorial or aggressive to strangers and people visiting the home
If a particular behavioral problem like barking or being destructive is creating significant issues, make sure you consult a professional animal trainer to address them
Enforce healthy and positive obedience, behavioral and other boundaries and standards on your dog throughout their lifetime
Be aware of the most common behavioral problems with dogs, and get specific advice from trainers on how to address them
Behavior, & Body Language
Learn to read a dog’s body language for any signs of distress, fear, anxiety, aggression, and so on
Never approach a dog without letting them see, smell and inspect you first, and never approach them face first (do not put your face near their face if you don’t want to risk potential facial injuries), or in a way that makes them feel threatened, smothered, and so on.
Never let a dog around strangers, or especially young children without being supervised and without guiding people on safe behavior around the dog
Always alert people who may be coming into contact with the dog if there are any risks in interacting with the dog, and keep the dog away from others, put a muzzle on the dog, or put in place other safety measures if there is some type of other risk
Daily Routine & Commitments
Feed your dog healthy/nutritious food, and remember to feed them the correct amount of times per day (ask a vet if you are unsure about either)
Re-fill your dog’s water bowl regularly when it’s running low, and you check the water is clean
Exercise your dog each day for the allotted amount of time – go for walks as one example
Regularly interact with and spend quality time with your dog
Walking & Going Outdoors
When walking your dog, make sure the collar and leash are in a good condition, and be careful of traffic, other people and other pets, potentially dangerous substances that your dog might eat, drink or come into contact with, and any potential things that could harm your dog or that your dog might harm
Teach your dog the basics of swimming or floating above water (in case they ever fall in a pool for example)
Your Yard & Home
Make sure your yard is dog proof and safe – seal off any potential ways they could escape, restrict them from areas where they could hurt themselves (such as sheds with toxic chemicals, the swimming pool where they could drown, and so on)
Car & Vehicle Travel
When in the car, make sure your dog is securely fastened and safe within the car
Laws & Regulations
Follow any laws and regulations in regards to owning a dog in your area – having a dog on a leash in public, register your dog and microchip it, etc.
There may be some situations where it’s completely unavoidable or out of the dog owner’s control that they have to give up their dog. Having family and friends as backup to take over ownership is the first option. The second option is to find a responsible and loving owner who wants to take over ownership – you might want to contact the breeder for options, or you may want see if there are reputable re-homing programs in your area
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