Enjoying the companionship of a senior dog, the antics of a puppy, and the joy of playing with your dog is a wonderful thing in life. It can bring us great happiness owning a dog...but while they are providing us those moments of joy, are we giving them everything they need? How can we be the best dog owners we can be?
Great things you can do with your dog for responsible pet ownership:
Exercise is not only good for us, it is also good for our pets. Knowing your pets' needs is important as all are different. Some dogs need to run hard for a couple miles a day or benefit going on long strenuous hikes, other dogs can get enough exercise playing fetch for a long period, and some less active dogs would be happy with just a walk around the block. A tired and stimulated dog is a happy dog.
There is a lot of controversy on what the best kind of diet works for our pets, but what we can all agree on is that our dogs need good food to stay healthy. Working with your vet or a pet food nutritionist you can find a food that works best for your dog. Just like people, not all dogs are the same and they can have different needs.
Regular Health & Wellness Checks with you Vet
Having regular wellness checks with your pet's vet is very important and should happen at least once a year. This is a great time for your vet to do a simple look over of your dog and see if there is anything of concern. This helps owners have a better chance of catching a problem early and possibly preventing a more serious health condition. It is also a great time to do their annual vaccinations and get their teeth looked at.
I know I mentioned vaccinations in the health and wellness section above, but this is so important that I thought it needed its own section. Vaccinations are an easy way to prevent serious illness in your pets. One illness, that as a rescue we see too much of, is parvovirus. Parvovirus is a deadly and highly contagious disease for dogs. It can be prevented by an affordable vaccine, whereas treating a dog who has gotten parvo can be up to $1200 for every 12 hours they are hospitalized. To keep your dog from getting parvo it is important for them to receive their boosters at your yearly visit to the vet. If you have a puppy, that pup should not go anywhere (and definitely not let on the ground outside your own home and yard) until they have completely finished their puppy series of shots (usually at least 3 different rounds of vaccines). Parvovirus can survive up to years on surfaces, including outside in grass.
Training not only makes you happier, but it makes your dog happier, too. Training doesn't stop and sit down, and come. There are all kinds of training activities you can do with your dog to keep their brain challenged and happy. Basic training is important for all dogs, but there is also more advanced training in canine sports such as: nose work, agility, rally, and more. These are great ways to keep your dog happy and could be fun for you, too! Getting your puppy into a puppy training class is also important for beginning those important steps of socialization.
This is especially important for puppies and young dogs as this is a vital part of their development with both people they don't know and other dogs. Proper socialization will make life easier on both you and your pet. If you aren't sure how to properly introduce your dog to new situations or they have problems already meeting new faces, reach out to a professional trainer.
Keeping your pet safe should be a high priority for any responsible dog owner. This includes (but is not limited to) regularly checking fence lines for possible escape routes, microchipping your pets and making sure the information is kept up to date, keep an updated tag on their collar, and making sure that collars, harnesses, and leads fit appropriately for your dog so they can’t escape while out on a walk.
It is always best to be prepared for an emergency, this includes being prepared for your furry family as well. Having a pet go bag to grab easily in a hurry, knowing where you can take your pet, and having the numbers for your vet and a local emergency vet will help take a little of the stress off during the panic of unforeseen situations. Also, in case of evacuations or fire while you are not home, it is a great idea to put stickers on your doors and/or windows alerting emergency personnel that you have pets inside your house.
There are so many parts of being a responsible pet owner, but most of all, remember to love your dog and let them be a part of your lives.