If you’ve happened across our website, there’s obviously a strong possibility that you may be a dog owner. Something we often take for granted are our responsibilities as pet owners – for the safety, happiness and health of our pups, and of those around us.
Annually, the AKC designates a day in September to help educate the public about the responsibilities of pet owners. This year’s Responsible Dog Ownership Day takes place on Saturday, September 28th.
As we approach the 2019 Responsible Dog Ownership Day, it’s worth taking a moment to step back and think about our approach with our own pups. How can each of us ensure we act as responsible dog owners?
(Our non-profit organization, Highland Canine Connect, is holding AKC Canine Good Citizen (AKC CGC) evaluations on the morning of Saturday, September 28th, at our classroom in Harmony, NC.)
How to be a responsible dog owner
1) Think about a suitable dog for your home
If you don’t currently own a dog, take some time to think about the most suitable breed for your home and family environment. If you have a small, top-floor apartment with limited space, it may be unwise to have a 150 lb Newfoundland barreling around! If you have small children or grandparents living in your home, consider the effect a particular type of dog will have on their lives.
Make sure you research and ask questions of a breeder you plan to purchase from; if you’re planning to adopt from an animal shelter, take a look at our list of questions to ask the shelter before taking a dog home.
2) Get a collar, ID tag and microchip
It might sound obvious, but we all too frequently hear of a lost dog who isn’t wearing a collar or identification tag. Invest in a comfortable collar for your pup, and the ID tag should include the dog’s name, your home address, and the best telephone number to contact you on. Microchipping is another method to ensure your dog can be reunited with you in the event it escapes from your home.
3) Pet-proof your home
Your dog may have have plenty of toys, but its inquisitive nature may cause it to roam and play with things it shouldn’t. If you have children, you’ll have experience of child-proofing your home – now you need to pet-proof it, too! Keep cleaning products, medications and other potentially harmful substances out of reach, tidy away any electrical wires so they can’t be chewed on, and make sure your dog can’t choke on any small parts from board games or children’s toys.
4) Keep them healthy!
Locate a nearby veterinarian who can administer your dog’s initial vaccinations, and help with any health issues which occur. Your dog should always have fresh, clean water available, and feed them a diet suitable for its breed and size. Learn about the foods your dog should avoid eating and inform other members of your household. Many dog owners know that chocolate should be kept away from your pup, but other foods – like grapes or macadamia nuts – can be equally harmful. For energetic breeds, make sure your dog has adequate room to run around outside or is taken on frequent walks.
5) Put your dog through a training regime
Training your dog has several major benefits and is a huge step to becoming a truly responsible dog owner. Teaching your dog basic commands and keeping them under control increases the chances of keeping them safe, in addition to providing you with peace of mind when your dog is in the presence of strangers (human or animal).
6) Keep your pup physically and mentally stimulated
When dogs become bored, they can develop behavioral issues and become destructive. To avoid this, your dog needs mental and physical stimulation to keep it occupied. For high-energy breeds, taking them out on walks or letting them run in the yard is a perfect way to keep them physically stimulated. Teaching your dog a new skill, such as agility or trailing, can help them to think and increase their confidence.
7) Socialize your dog
Under-socialized dogs can also be problematic for their owners and have a tendency to develop behavioral issues. Socialization is a huge part of your dog’s development. Interacting with other humans or dogs, in unusual environments, can help to create a safer and more obedient dog. Consider bringing your dog the next time you meet a friend for coffee at an establishment with outdoor seating, or even take them with you for a short car ride. A group training class can also help in several ways – it provides your dog with mental and physical stimulation, and helps them remain well-socialized.
8) Respect other people and their property
This is perhaps one of the most important factors for becoming a responsible dog owner. Whilst it may seem that the vast majority of us are dog lovers, there are others who may not be as keen – for example, they may have had a harrowing experience in the past with a dog, be allergic to pet dander, or they may simply not be a dog person. Keep in mind that not everyone may love dogs as much as you do! Respect your neighbors (and their yards), as well as others you might encounter in society as a whole.
Taking the AKC Canine Good Citizen test
The AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is a surefire way to show that you are a responsible dog owner. It is also a great foundation prior to any advanced training or certification for therapy dog work.
During the CGC test, your dog will undertake ten different exercises to assess if it is well-mannered and obedient. These includes accepting a friendly stranger, performing basic commands such as sit, stay and down, and behaving well in a crowded setting.
Training your pup to be evaluated through the CGC program can be fun for you and your dog, will build a stronger connection, and eventually should result in a pup with increased obedience and social skills.
Highland Canine Connect is offering Canine Good Citizen evaluations to dog owners in our local community on Saturday, September 28, beginning at 10am. For more information on this event, read the press release or register your interest on the Facebook event.