Dog care

What it means to be a responsible dog owner

You love dogs. You want one because they are so adorable. However, there’s more to dog ownership than having a companion that brightens your day and makes you happy. There’s the responsibility part that you simply can’t afford to ignore. So what does it take to be a responsible dog owner? Here are a few…

First, give it careful thought

Having a great love for dogs isn’t all you need to be a responsible owner. You need to ensure a number of things are checked right before you attempt to get yourself a dog irrespective of how madly in love you are with them. Have you given thought to the following?

Your lifestyle

Are you a very active person who can’t have enough of the outdoors? Do you like running for miles every morning just to keep fit and stay in shape? Then owning a dog that isn’t as active wouldn’t be a nice idea.

What if you are involved in a profession that takes you out for over 15 hours daily and you are single, rarely spending more than 5 hours at home (and that is just to sleep)? How do you plan to make out time for a dog in such a situation? How would you housetrain him? How would you spend enough time with him?

Ask yourself the right questions and if you have the right answers then you are on your way to becoming a responsible dog owner. If you discover your situation doesn’t favor keeping a dog, wait until it changes.

Your finances

Dog ownership is expensive. At least, it will cost you a lot more than taking care of yourself alone. You have to factor in things like feeding, housing, exercise, dog toys, dog sitter, the vet and so on. Can your current earnings handle the financial burden of owning a dog?

Are you willing to make the commitment required?

It’s NOT just about having a lifestyle that supports dog ownership and being financially capable of supporting a dog. What about the commitment required to care for one? Are you willing to commit to training your dog – From housebreaking to dog obedience and making the required trips to the vet and so on?

Truth be told; having a dog is like raising a child. No matter how much you love them you won’t get the best out of them if you don’t make time and affection available as much as required.

Choose the right breed/age

Not all dog breeds are suitable for everyone. Some might be too aggressive for your liking, some too energetic, some too small, some too big – You need to know the type of breed that suits you most. There are breeds that are best as lap dogs and there are those that are best as guard dogs. You also want to know things like how easy-to-train a dog is and if there are health challenges that a particular breed is susceptible to.

Once you’ve made the right choice of a dog breed, you need to find a breeder that’s responsible, ethical and does all that’s necessary to raise healthy dogs that have a good temperament, among other things. You can get the right breed from local dog groups or dog rescue organizations.

While you think about the right breed, it’s equally important that you consider the right dog age to adopt. Believe it or not, puppies aren’t right for everyone. You may be better off with a grown dog. There are wonderful grown dogs that are available for adoption because their owners passed on, they were lost or abandoned. So you won’t be short for options if you go this route. Determine what your personal preference or ability is and choose accordingly.

Before your dog comes home

You’ve given it careful thought, you’ve picked the right breed and age; you’ve got the dog after your heart. Now before you bring your new dog home you need to do a few things if you are to be a responsible dog owner…

Dog-proof your home

Are there areas you want to be “no-go” for your dog? Then you need to ensure you’ve taken measures to make them inaccessible to your dog. Are there things that you know a dog will instinctively want to chew on? You need to move them out of reach. The same applies to your ceramics and other breakables that have always been within easy reach. Now that’s you taking measures to ensure that your dog doesn’t ruin your precious stuff.

What about measures that keep your dog out of harm’s way? Do you have electric cables that are run in such a way that your dog can chew on them and be exposed to electrocution? You need to dog-proof them. Are there plants your dog may be allergic to? What about things that might be toxic to your dog? Make sure they are all taken out of the dog’s reach.

Ensure your dog can be contained on your property

Make sure that your fence is high and strong enough to contain your new dog. If this isn’t an option, make sure you have the right kind of leash to contain him on your property. You don’t want your dog causing problems between you and your neighbors by running loose and becoming a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Get the right dog gear and accessories in place

Do you have the right collar(s) for your dog? What about leashes, toys, dog bed, a kernel and so on? The right size of the collar would be one that allows you to fit your fingers beneath while NOT sliding over your dog’s ears. Since you need a leash to contain your pet effectively, you need to have the right length so that your dog also enjoys a measure of freedom while under leash.

If you don’t get your dog the right toys, you risk him turning some of your stuff into one and that might end up being one of your shoe pairs or something you’d prefer kept away from the dog. Furthermore, just as you need your own sleeping place, your dog will appreciate a bed he can call his own.

When the dog comes home

There are things you simply can joke about when you bring your dog home if you want to be a responsible owner. Here are a few…

  1. Get him a vet he can flow with and ensure you comply with all necessary health regulations that concern your dog. Furthermore, pay attention to his health at all times and do NOT hesitate to take him to the vet at the first sign of sickness.
  2. Make sure he gets the right kind of training and exercise always.
  3. Make sure you feed him right. Dogs are carnivores and while we’ve been led to believe that dogs can eat anything, they are best with dog food and treats that have been carefully prepared for dogs.
  4. Have adequate plans for him when you are NOT around. This ranges from when you are away at work to when you have to go on long like on a business trip and even the extremes like when you pass on. Having the right plans in place will ensure your beloved dog doesn’t become a liability, nuisance or abandoned.
  5. Make sure your dog is spayed or neutered. This ensures that you do not have unwanted puppies. If you plan to be a breeder, make sure you get the necessary training and operate within recommended best practices.
  6. Ensure your dog has the right identification tag with all the necessary details. In the event that he gets lost, this will make it easier for you to reunite with him.

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