February is Responsible Pet Ownership Month. We are using this month to celebrating man’s best friend and all the joy they bring to our lives; An opportunity to educate families on the responsibilities of owning a dog.
Careful Breed Selection-
When considering adding a dog to your family it is important to select a breed that will fit in best with your family and lifestyle. Don’t choose on impulse! You are committing to a lifelong relationship. Do your research and speak to dog owners you know and trust for advice and guidance. Have a plan in place if your life changes, leaving you unable to care for him. Carefully plan who would then care for your dog.
Be Patient During the Rocky Road Ahead-
Before you make a commitment to bring a new dog into your family, consider that there could be some bumps in the road. Whether little “bumps” like a dietary change, or big “bumps” like behavioral issues, you must be committed to resolving the issue regardless of the time and investment involved.
Behavioral issues are the number one reason dog owners give up on a healthy relationship with their dog. This can unfortunately result in emotional abandonment of the dog (chained outside, left alone in the yard). Proper training is essential and the earlier you begin, the easier it will be. However, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, so it’s never too late to begin professional training. It is also very likely that you, the dog owner, can benefit from training sessions as much as your dog!
Be proactive in preserving your dog’s health. Nutrition, exercise, regular vet visits, and a safe living environment are essential! We recommend finding a health insurance policy for your dog. There are several companies that provide this service. Do some research, talk to dog owner friends you trust about what company they use, and what they like and dislike about the policy they carry on their dog. This will help you make decisions that work well with your family.
ID Your Pet-
Permanent identification in the form of a microchip is highly recommended. Make sure to register the microchip number to your name, address, email, and phone number and keep your contact information up-to-date! Read up more on some common questions and misconceptions about microchipping before deciding to do it.
Dogs are social beings. If you are not committed to spending quality time with your dog to fulfill his emotional needs, you should not consider owning one. Dogs need to belong to a pack; your family replaces the dog pack. Love, attention, grooming, and play are all things that provide healthy emotional nutrition to your dog.
Leave Breeding to the Experts-
If you are not educated or knowledgeable on dog breeding you should not consider breeding your dog. Leave that to the experts. You should speak to your vet about the best age to spay or neuter your dog.
Of course, responsible dog ownership comes with way too many responsibilities to list them all. The American Kennel Club, or AKC, is a great resource for all dog information, they even offer a handy dog owner pet promise!
Remember, “owning a dog is not just a privilege, it’s a responsibility.” Your dog will love you unconditionally but the more love, care, and training you invest in your dog, the more enjoyable the relationship between your pup and your family will be.