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How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

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Everyone perks up at the idea of playing with a dog, but being a pet owner is not as simple as it may seem. Regardless of whether you have a dog, a cat, or a fish as a companion, you have taken on the responsibility of another life. And while, yes, some may require less attention than others, they all have one common denominator: responsibility. Here are a few things you should know in order to be the best, most responsible dog owner possible.

Dog-proof your house. Don’t leave anything laying around the house that your dog could potentially get into. Many common household items, such as cleaners and medications, are poisonous to dogs, as well as many food items, such as onions, garlic, chocolate, and more. To prevent any undesired consumption of products, you can do a few things. First, put childproof locks on low cabinets. Second, buy a trashcan that your dog cannot open. Third, put medicines and cleaners on the highest shelves possible in your home. And finally, keep your bathroom doors shut – there is nothing dogs love more than chewing rolls of toilet paper and sniffing through your trash while you aren’t watching.

Take your dog to the vet – regularly. This is very important for the health and wellbeing of your dog. You may not notice signs or symptoms that something is wrong, but a vet will. Depending on how old your pup is when you get him, you will need to take him every four weeks until he is four months old for various vaccinations, and then again at six months for a checkup. When your pup reaches the one year mark, it is good to take him for a yearly appointment, and any other time you deem necessary. Tell your vet everything you know about your pup’s history, even if it seems inane, for the best and most comprehensive care.

Spay/neuter your dog. If you have a young puppy, take notice - dogs need to bespayed/neutered at around 6 months. If your vet deems it appropriate sooner, your dog can be fixed as early as 8 weeks, but there is no need to spay/neuter this early. Aim to spay your female dog before her first heat (around 6 months) for the best health benefits.

Always keep up-to-date ID tags on your dog. This one is self-explanatory. If your dog gets lost, you need a way to find him. Having up-to-date tags with information such as your address, phone number, and vaccination information is the best way to do this. Also talk to your vet about getting a microchip for your pet.

Have a list of dog-sitters on hand. Unlike a fish, or even a cat, you cannot just give a dog a few days’ worth of food and water supply and go on an impromptu vacation. He cannot let himself outside, or buy more food if he runs out. If you are going to take on the responsibility of owning a dog, that means giving him the consistent love, care, and attention he needs, and planning ahead for when you won’t be there. Make sure you have a nearby friend or family member to take care of your pup when you can’t, or find a trusted vet or kennel at which you can board him. Additionally, if you constantly work long days and your dog will be home alone or in a crate, re-think your timing.

Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. While daily exercise requirements are based on the size and breed of your dog, all dogs should get at least30 minutes of exercise a day, but some require as much as two hours. On the bright side, your dog is helping you get or stay in shape!

Your dog is a member of the family – treat him as such. The best thing you can do is love and take care of your dog and treat him like a member of your family. Listen to the cues he gives you about his needs and act appropriately. Always make sure you give him plenty of love and affection!

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