When I think of what it means to be a responsible dog owner, several things come to mind. Feeding my dog a healthy diet, making sure she has clean water to drink, and giving her plenty of exercise are just a few. We are still heartbroken after losing our sweet Golden Retriever, Summer. But as we look forward to the time when our hearts have mended enough to even think about welcoming another dog, I realize there’s a lot more to being responsible in the dog ownership department.
- Enter into a relationship for life. Owning a dog is a great privilege, and should be treated as such. Your dog will be a part of your family for his or her lifetime.
- Choose your breed carefully. Do your research and know what type of dog is best for your home and lifestyle. Big or little? Short hair or long hair? Puppy or housebroken?
- Know your financial capabilities. Create a pet fund long before you invest in a dog. Pet insurance can help with unexpected accident and illness veterinary bills.
- Identify your pet. Microchip, tattoo, or tag your dog in case he gets lost.
- Spay/neuter. Spaying or neutering your dog prevents unwanted puppies and can prevent serious health problems such as uterine infections and breast cancer.
- Establish a good relationship with your vet. Having just gone through bouts of vertigo, cancerous tumors, and arthritis with our sweet dog, I can vouch for the importance of having a vet you can trust, who loves your dog as much as you do.
- Annual Vet Visits. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best products for you and your pet. Then take advantage of our pet insurance wellness plan which can help with the financial burden of protecting your dog from heartworm disease, tick-borne illnesses, flea-bite allergies and intestinal parasites.
- Socialize and train. I will never forget my mom telling me their golden retriever failed obedience school because she was just “too social!” What’s important is that my parents took the time to enroll her in the class, and to socialize her with other dogs, and learn basic commands. Dr. Lisa Radosta, DVM urges dog owners to Go To Class! in her PetMD blog post. Radosta writes, “I think that the most valuable thing about classes is the exposure that your puppy gets to the sights and sounds outside of the home. How many of us complain that our dogs are perfect at home, but embarrass us outside of the home? If you only take your puppy out occasionally for training outside of the home, he will certainly not be able to behave outside of the home.”
- Obey leash laws and pick up after your pet.
- Exercise and play. This one is a no-brainer. See our post, 4 Reasons to Get Outside and Walk to learn how walking can benefit you and your pooch.
- Prepare for emergencies. In our post, National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, you can find tips on creating a disaster plan and emergency kit for your dog.
- Make difficult decisions. Knowing when it is time to say goodbye to your dog is as important as taking good care of him or her in the younger years.
Of course, showering your dog with love and affection is important too. If you have this list mastered, you can rest assured, knowing you’re entering into a beautiful relationship with man’s best friend.