As a dog owner there is a huge responsibility to care for and protect your best friend, to make a difference in their health, hapiness, and well-being. Here are some tips and ideas from the American Kennel Club (AKC) American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), veterinarians, dog owners, ASPCA, and other sources on how to be a responsible pet owner:
- Recognize the commitment. Before deciding that a dog is right for you, make an honest assessment: are you ready for the financial, emotional, and time commitment owning a dog requires?
- Make a list, based on your evaluation, what qualities do you want in a dog? Consider size, energy level, grooming needs, trainability, and temperament. If you rent an apartment, are there restrictions on height, weight, or breed? Answer these questions now, because once you bring a dog home, it can be heartbreaking to realize you made the wrong choice.
- Choose a breed, once you have made your list of ideal characteristics, do some research to find out which breeds fit that profile. Read up, attend dog shows, visit kennels, read up on the breed on websites or in books.
- Consider an older dog, puppies aren’t for everyone. If an older dog better fits your lifestyle, check rescues and shelters. Most rescue dogs have been spayed or neutered and are screened for health and temperament issues.
- Prepare to wait for the perfect dog, availability varies. Responsible breeders do not breed often, and many times the puppies of a planned breeding are already spoken for. A good dog is worth waiting for.
- Get your papers, You should receive a registration application from your breeder when you purchase the puppy. Make sure the breeder completes the appropriate sections of the form and signs it. The breeder can also help you fill out your section correctly.
- Register your dog, send your completed application to the registry, your dog will then become part of the registry of purebred dogs and also prove breed and ownership.
- Prepare, buy the necessities and toys, purchase food, treats, a collar and leash, toys, grooming tools, and other things you’ll need in advance so that your dog or puppy’s transition into your home will be a smooth one.
- Spay or neuter your pet to help control pet overpopulation.
- Dog-proof your house, prepare your home before your new dog arrives. Move breakables or “chewables” to higher ground. Make electrical cords inaccessible to curious paws and noses. Block off any area of the house that’s off-limits. Block access to any house or garden plants that are toxic to dogs.
- Name your dog. your breeder may have suggestions or even requirements from his registered name, but their call or informal name is up to you.
- Microchip your pet and keep the information up-to-date.
- Provide your pet with proper nutrition, including fresh water at all times.
- Exercise your pet regularly to keep them healthy and happy.
- Keep your pet’s living space clean and comfortable.
- Select a veterinarian, choose a veterinarian ahead of time, so you’ll be ready for a visit soon after your dog comes home. Give your vet copies of the dog’s health records, and set up a vaccination and check-up schedule.
- Get your pet regular check-ups and follow your veterinarian’s recommendations
- Keep your pet up-to-date on vaccinations to protect them from preventable diseases.
- Follow local laws and ordinances related to pet ownership.
- Keep your pet on a leash when out in public to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
- Teach your dog basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. Training your dog makes your life easier, fulfills his desire to please you, and strengthens your bond.
- Understand and respect your pet’s natural instincts and behaviors.
- Provide your pet with appropriate toys and entertainment to keep them stimulated.
- Keep your pet’s teeth clean and healthy by brushing them regularly and getting dental check-ups as needed.
- Repel fleas and ticks. keep your dog, their bedding, and your home free from parasites.
- Keep your pet’s nails trimmed to prevent them from getting too long and causing discomfort.
- Bathe your dog, wash your dog with shampoo meant for canines. How often you should wash them will depend on his breed and environment. If this task is too overwhelming for you, take them to a groomer or vet.
- Groom your pet regularly to keep their coat clean and healthy.
- Protect your pet from extreme temperatures by keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- Keep your pet’s environment safe by securing any potential dangers, such as household chemicals or toxic plants.
- Prevent disease, depending on where you live, your dog could be at risk for diseases like heartworm and Lyme disease. Ask your vet for prevention tips.
- Understand your pet’s breed-specific health concerns and take necessary precautions.
- Keep your pet’s identification tags up-to-date and make sure they are wearing them at all times.
- Don’t leave your pet alone for extended periods of time, especially if they are young or have separation anxiety.
- Provide your pet with plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom.
- Never leave your pet in a hot car, even for just a few minutes, as the temperature inside a car can rise quickly and be deadly to your pet.
- Don’t leave your pet outside unsupervised, as they are vulnerable to dangers such as predators, traffic, and weather.
- Understand your pet’s body language and listen to their needs.
- Never hit or physically punish your pet for misbehaving.
- Use positive reinforcement training methods to teach your pet good behavior.
- Never give your pet human medications without consulting a veterinarian.
- Don’t feed your pet table scraps or unhealthy treats, as they can cause weight gain and other health issues.
- Provide your pet with a comfortable and safe place to sleep.
- Make a schedule, you and your family members should decide who will be responsible for food, water, walks, exercise, cleanup, and grooming. Post a schedule of tasks to remind everyone of their responsibilities.
- Make sure your pet has access to clean, fresh water at all times.
- Don’t allow your pet to beg for food at the table.
- Don’t give your pet chocolate or other toxic foods.
- Don’t feed your pet raw meat, as it can contain harmful bacteria.
- Don’t feed your pet bones that can splinter and cause choking or other injuries.
- Don’t feed your pet foods that are high in fat or calories, as they can lead to obesity and other health issues.
- Don’t feed your pet foods that are high in sugar, as they can lead to dental problems and other health issues.
- Don’t feed your pet foods that are high in salt, as they can lead to dehydration and other health issues.
- Make a bed, create a comfortable area — whether a crate, a dog bed, or a pile of blankets — for your dog to go to when they need rest or privacy.
- Don’t feed your pet foods that contain artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors, as they can be harmful to your pet’s health.
- Make sure your pet gets regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being.
- Take your pet for regular walks to provide them with mental and physical stimulation.
- Play with your pet regularly to keep them active and happy.
- Consider obedience classes, they can be a great experience for you and your dog. You may even discover that your dog has a talent for obedience, agility, or other sports.
- Use caution when introducing your pet to new animals or people to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
- Housetrain, whatever method of housetraining you choose, make sure everyone in the family enforces it consistently.
- Keep your dog safe in the car by using a crate or seat belt harness
- Have a disaster plan in place, Make and emergency kit with clean water, food and first aid equipment.
- Establish an emergency contact, enlist a family member or friend your dog knows to take care of him in case of illness, hospitalization or other emergencies. Leave a list of care instructions in a safe place.
- Talk to your dog, your best friend won’t understand your words but they will enjoy the sound of your voice. They also understand tones and know when you are praising or correcting their behavior
- Give treats, your dog will always appreciate a treat, and they can also be used as training aids.
- Set house rules, teach your dog from the beginning what is and is not appropriate behavior. getting on the couch, sleeping on the bed, If something is “OK” today, your puppy will think it’s OK forever. Make sure every member of the family is aware of the rules you’ve set. Consistency is key to being a responsible dog owner.
- Switch out toys Keep your dog entertained by rotating his toys. Put “old” toys out of sight for a month or two and then bring them back out again.
- Plan activities and trips with your dog. Include your dog in family activities. Take them to the park, beach, or to special activities such as a dog parade. If you’re traveling to an event, check ahead for lodging that accepts dogs. If you’re flying, ask about travel accommodations for your dog when you make the reservation.
- Give him a massage, recent studies have shown that massages may be beneficial to your dog’s health and behavior.
- Socialize your Dog, expose your dog to different people and settings regularly. Take them to the park, to the pet store, on a walk through town. Praise them for behaving calmly around strangers and other dogs.
- Praise your dog, praise him lavishly for obeying commands and behaving well. Using positive, rather than negative, reinforcement will help your dog enjoy training.
- Supervise play with children, children and dogs can be great friends, but they need supervision when playing together, no matter how friendly your canine companion might be.
- Give your dog a job, teach them to fetch the paper or carry groceries. Giving your dog a sense of purpose and accomplishment increases their well being.
- Contain bitches in heat, males can sense a female in heat up to five miles away. If your female dog goes into heat, keep her properly secured.
- Breed to improve, breeding should only be done for the advancement of the breed. If you are thinking about breeding your dog, consult your breeder for advice.
- Do genetic screening, If you plan to breed your dog, it is very important to test for health and disease. Perform all available tests to rule out the possibility of passing on a genetic defect.
- Explore the world of dog sports by participating in AKC events. The AKC offers titles for accomplishment over a wide range of levels. Find an event that’s right for your dog and have fun.
- Find a mentor. iIf you plan to breed or show your dog, find an experienced person in the breed to show you the ropes. A mentor can make your “novice” days much easier.
- Respect your neighbors, not everyone will love your dog as much as you do. Keep your dog on your property. Don’t force your dog’s company on a neighbor who isn’t comfortable with dogs.
- Fight anti-dog legislation, be a voice against legislation directed against specific breeds.
- For more information, contact the Government Relations and Public Education departments at the AKC.
What are the essentials of providing proper care for my dog?
A responsible dog owner provides adequate shelter, food, water, exercise, regular veterinary care, and social interaction to ensure their dog’s physical and emotional well-being.
How can I ensure my dog is well-trained and well-behaved?
Enroll your dog in a basic obedience class, practice consistent positive reinforcement training, and set boundaries to promote good behavior. Socialize your dog early and expose them to a variety of people, animals, and environments.
How can I be a good neighbor and responsible dog owner within my community?
Always pick up and properly dispose of your dog’s waste, adhere to local leash laws, and prevent excessive barking or other disturbances. Be respectful of shared public spaces and considerate of others who may have allergies or fears of dogs.
What should I consider before adding a dog to my family?
Evaluate your lifestyle, living situation, and available time to ensure you can provide the necessary care, attention, and resources for a dog. Research breeds and their characteristics to choose a dog that aligns well with your specific needs and environment.