People around the world love dogs – dog ownership has been on the rise in almost all countries for the past decade at least. A majority of these dog owners are new owners, with a great deal of enthusiasm but not a lot of experience. It’s good to stress the importance of properly caring for a new dog, as they are relying on us humans for all their needs. Responsible dog ownership is something that all dog owners need to practise.
Taking on the responsibility of caring for another living creature can be both fun and rewarding, but it’s also a serious commitment. If you’re considering bringing a dog into your life or are looking to become a more responsible pet parent, here are some tips to get you started.
6 Tips for Being a Responsible Dog Owner
Choose the right breed
The first step to being a responsible dog owner is selecting the right dog breed or crossbreed for your lifestyle. Before you bring home a new dog, make sure you’ve done some research on what type of dog will best suit your family, activity level and living situation.
Consider factors such as size, energy level and compatibility with other pets in the household when making this important decision. Dog breeds with a high prey drive such as Airedale Terriers or Australian Shepherds will make great hunting dogs, but may not live well with other animals like cats or rabbits.
Give your dog plenty of exercise
Dogs need daily physical activity to stay healthy and strong. Take them for regular walks or jogs, visits to the park or beach, playing fetch in the yard – whatever it takes to get them moving. Exercise not only helps keep your dog fit, but also helps relieve boredom and behavioural issues like destructive chewing or excessive barking.
This can be easier for some dogs compared to others. Smaller toy breeds will generally need less activity than bigger working dogs. No matter the breed, you’ll need to set aside some time during the day to let your dog work up a sweat.
Give your dog a proper diet
Choose high-quality dog food that will meet all your dog’s nutritional needs throughout their life. This depends on the age of your dog – dogs have different nutritional needs throughout puppyhood, adolescence and adulthood. You can opt to buy a commercial dog food that’s suited to your dog’s life stage, or ask your veterinarian for advice regarding making your own meals. Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times so they can stay hydrated at all times.
Take them for regular vet visits
It’s important to have a regular schedule with your veterinarian for vaccinations and checkups. This will help ensure your dog stays healthy by preventing illnesses like parvovirus or heartworm disease, which are common in almost all areas of the world.
Keeping up with vet appointments will also give you peace of mind, since you’re more likely to catch any underlying issues that can harm your dog. This is true no matter how old your dog is, as there may be medical conditions that suddenly come up with little to no warning. Buying your dog from a responsible dog breeder gives you a head start on this tip. Ethical dog breeders in Canberra, for example, will also bring their puppies in for vet visits in the first couple of weeks of life.
Practise positive reinforcement training techniques
When teaching commands or desired behaviours, positive reinforcement should be your approach. Positive reinforcement involves giving rewards like treats or verbal praise when they do something correctly, which encourages your dog to repeat these behaviours in the future. Relying on negative reinforcement methods such as scolding or punishments is an outdated training style, and is no longer used by a majority of dog trainers. Punishing your dog can cause fear or anxiety and discourage learning altogether.
Don’t forget socialisation
Socialising your pup is another key factor when it comes to being a responsible pet parent. Introducing puppies to other people, animals and different environments early on will help them become well-rounded adult dogs who know how to behave in various situations.
A great way to do this is by enrolling them in puppy classes where they can get used to being around other animals their own age. Most of these classes will feature basic obedience training for both you and your dog, so it’s also a great chance to bond with your dog while they learn.
Being a responsible dog owner isn’t always easy, but it certainly pays off in the long run when it comes to having a happy and healthy dog. With these tips in mind, you can rest assured knowing that you are providing everything needed for your dog to lead the best life possible.