What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner? For starters, it means getting a dog for the right reasons. Dogs are meant to be our companions and to share our lives with us. The right reasons to get a dog are to help him become all that he can be. To properly feed and exercise him. To spend quality time socializing and training him. But there are many wrong reasons to get a dog. Some of these include as a means of protection or to be a hobby breeder. When dogs are purchased as a means of protection, most people think this means keeping them away from other dogs and people to make them more protective. By doing this, your dog is not getting the socialization that he requires and as a result ends up fearful, aggressive, and destructive.
What invariably happens is the dog bites someone and ends up getting euthanized. Reputable breeders generally breed their dogs as a profession. They have studied genetic lines and ensure that their puppies are healthy and of good temperament. Breeding dogs is often very expensive, and most hobby breeders are not ready for what they are getting themselves into. Also, there is already an overpopulation of dogs in this country. It is best to leave breeding to the professionals.
Responsible dog ownership begins BEFORE you get your dog. Make sure to properly research which type of dog is right for you. Make sure to discuss with your family who will be responsible for caring for your dog. Talk with your veterinarian about what kinds of costs you must consider throughout your dog's life. Make the commitment that your dog will be cared for by you for the duration of his life. By doing your homework before you even bring your dog home, you are ensuring that you and your dog will be a good match, you know what to expect financially, and that your dog will have a forever home.
Responsible dog ownership means properly socializing your dog. Young puppies need to be exposed to a variety of other dogs, people, and sensations to help them learn to not be afraid of new situations. Puppies also require a lot of time and training. Responsible dog owners understand that the demands of puppy hood will be many. Puppies need to be housebroken, a task which often requires a lot of time and patience. They need to learn basic commands and manners and you need to learn how to properly communicate with them.
Responsible dog ownership means taking your dog to the veterinarian for regular healthy pet checkups. Usually at this time, your dog will be vaccinated as well. All good owners know that dogs need to be vaccinated on schedule to help protect them, the public, and other dogs that they come into contact with. Your dog will also need to be tested for intestinal parasites periodically. Responsible owners know that by preventing and treating parasites they are keeping their dog healthy and protecting their families as most parasites can be transmitted to humans. Another facet of good dog ownership is knowing when your dog is ill. It is your responsibility to keep your dog in optimum health.
When you take your dog for a walk or to the dog park, pick up after him when he goes to the bathroom. Not only is this common courtesy, but fecal matter can be harmful to humans or other dogs. If you do not have a fenced in yard, always keep your dog on leash. Not only are there laws in many states requiring you to do so, this will also ensure that your dog will not get loose and bite a person or another dog, or dart in to traffic and get injured or killed.
Spend as much quality time with your dog as possible. If you happen to have an employer that allows it, take your dog to work with you. Go jogging with your dog. Find a sport like agility, flyball, or sledding that you can do with your dog. Participate in community events such as dog jogs and dog fests. All of these things will enhance your relationship and are a factor in responsible dog ownership.
Common sense, proper socialization, training, and spending good time with your dog are all a part of responsible dog ownership. By displaying these traits, you can help others learn about how to be good dog owners.