Hundreds of thousands of dogs get sick, injured, and lost every year due to preventable causes. As dog owners, we strive to give our dogs the best life possible. We also make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes can be detrimental to our dog’s health and safety and the safety of others. In honor of Responsible Dog Ownership Month, we are sharing 9 ways you can be a responsible dog owner and keep you, your dog, and your community happy and safe.
Before we dive into the tips, let’s discuss what being a “responsible dog owner” means. Being a responsible dog owner means you care for the safety and well-being of your dog and your community. You are willing to put in the work and money to give your dog a high-quality life. And you take necessary precautions and preventative measures to prevent problems from arising. You also own your mistakes and strive to fix them and prevent them from happening again.
Now that we better understand what being a responsible dog owner entails, here are 9 ways you can be a responsible dog owner and give your dog the best life possible.
Vaccines and Regular Vet Visits
When owning a dog, prevention is a lot easier (and cheaper!) than treatment. Getting your dog vaccinated can save your dog’s life and prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering, heartbreak, and expensive vet bills. Scheduling regular checkups with your vet can also be very beneficial in preventing illness and spotting abnormalities early on.
ID Tags and Microchips
Making sure your dog has an up-to-date ID tag on its collar can be all it takes for a safe return home if they ever get lost. The tag must have all of your current information, including your phone number and address. Getting your dog microchipped is another fantastic way to ensure their return home if they get lost. Statistics show that 73% of owners of lost pets were found because their pets were microchipped. A microchip is a small radio frequency identification tag that is inserted into your dog. If your dog is found, it can be taken to a veterinary office or animal shelter where the chip can be scanned and your information revealed.
Feeding The Best Food
What you feed your dog is extremely important to their health and well-being. Every dog is different and has different nutritional needs. You must research different diets and brands of dog food to determine the best and healthiest option for your dog. You can also chat with your veterinarian about diets that work best for your dog’s breed, weight, lifestyle, and health condition.
High-Quality Gear Only
Owning a dog can be expensive. Let me rephrase that—owning a dog is expensive. While it can be tempting to buy the cheapest dog gear you can find, it’s often better to spend a few extra dollars on something stronger, safer, and long-lasting. Here are a few tips to follow when buying your dog gear:
- Research – when looking for a product, research different styles and brands. There are different options for certain products, each serving a different purpose, so it’s important to find the one that will best suit your needs.
- Read reviews – once you find the product you want, look at reviews previous customers have made for that product. You can often find reviews by searching the product name in a search engine and reading reviews by bloggers, or you can go to the company’s website and find reviews on the product page. Checking a product’s reviews is helpful because you can learn how the product performs in real-life scenarios, why previous customers like or don’t like the product, and certain features that may not be in the product description.
- Deals and sales – many companies have sales year round allowing you to snag your most-wanted products at a cheaper price. You can stay up-to-date on deals and sales by subscribing to the company’s newsletter and following them on social media. Pro tip: wait for holidays as many companies have holiday sales and deals!
Tough Toys Only
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one and that is to buy tough toys. Buying the right toys can save your dog’s life. Thousands of dogs die every year due to chewing and ingesting pieces of dog toys. Many brands sell tough toys that are nearly indestructible. It is also important that you always supervise your dog when they are playing with toys.
If you have a puppy or have had one, you know just how much damage they can cause in a few short minutes. Constantly supervising your dog can prevent a lot of unfortunate circumstances from happening. While it is not very efficient to have a constant watch on your dog, there are some things you can do to ensure your pup is safe when you aren’t around.
- Crate training – teaching your dog how to relax in a crate can be very beneficial when you are busy or have guests over and can’t supervise your dog. It is important that you make the crate a safe space your dog enjoys being in. If you have a small dog or puppy, you can also invest in a pen that is bigger than a crate, so your dog has more space.
- Camera – if you prefer to let your dog free-roam, get a security camera. It allows you to have constant supervision of your dog even while you are out or just in another room. Some cameras are made specifically for dogs that dispense treats and allow you to talk to your dogs while away!
Dog-Proof Your Home
Dog-proofing your home is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent unnecessary injuries and illnesses. Keeping toxic chemicals and foods out of your dog’s reach; securing doors, fences, and gates; and hiding and securing wires are all preventative measures you can take to ensure your dog’s safety at home.
Training your dog is one of the best things you can do for your dog, yourself, and your community. It will not only allow you to live harmoniously together, but it will also allow your dog to take part in basic activities outside of your home safely and happily. Many dog owners avoid training their dogs because it’s “too hard” or hiring a professional trainer is too expensive. While working with a professional trainer isn’t possible for many of us, you can easily gain the knowledge and tools needed to train your dog yourself. There are hundreds of thousands of resources available for free online and in your local library that teach you everything you need to know about dogs and training. As for tools and gear, you can find countless options both online and at your local pet store.
Being observational is very important when owning a dog. Even the smallest changes in your dog’s behavior or health can be crucial to preventing and/or treating large problems. For example, you may notice that he seems uncomfortable when you touch his belly, or maybe you notice a small tick while petting him—both problems that need to be dealt with early on. Observing your dog’s urine and stool is also a great way to detect problems you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Being a responsible dog owner is easy and reaps invaluable benefits. By following these 9 simple tips, you are on your way to keeping you, your dog, and your community happy, healthy, and safe.