That little puppy is so cute, how can you resist his sad eyes? He seems to be calling your name. However, before you adopt a dog from the shelter or purchase a dog, consider how much responsibility it is.
Being a good, safe, responsible dog owner takes a time and financial commitment. It's more than just providing your dog with food and shelter. With February being Responsible Pet Owner Month we just wanted to give you some tips for being the best dog owner you can be. Remember that depending on the breed, your dog may be with you for the next 10 - 15 years!
- Big vs. small. Choose a breed of dog best suited to your lifestyle and home environment. The decision to get a dog should not be impulsive. It requires planning and much forethought, especially if you are thinking about a puppy. Bigger dogs may need a backyard or a larger space to play and more exercise. Smaller dogs can be more suitable if you live in an apartment and generally cost less to feed.
- Identification. Make sure your dog has identification, either in the form of a tag, tattoo, or microchip. If you move, don't forget to change the information on his identification.
- Training. Having a dog that misbehaves all the time is exhausting. Know that your dog wants to please you - he just doesn't know how. Train your dog to obey so you can have a well behaved family pet that you can enjoy for years to come. Dogs are often sent to shelters because dog owners can't handle their problems that could be overcome by proper training.
- Exercise. All dogs need exercise for physical and mental stimulation. Plus, it's good for dog owners too!
- Feeding. Particularly if your dog has any allergies, talk to your vet about the right food for your dog that may change as he goes from puppy to mature. Also, 50% of dogs are obese, so a regulated diet can help him stay at the proper weight.
- Laws. Different states and counties have different laws regarding pets in terms of registration. It is important to obey all local ordinances including licensing and leash requirements.
- Checkups. Just like an infant needs well baby checks, your puppy/dog need to see your vet annually and be up-to-date on shots and vaccinations.
- Spay/Neuter. Studies have shown that pets that are spayed and neutered live healthier, longer lives. Plus, spayed a neutered pets are less likely to developbehavior problems like aggression. Unless you want to breed your dog, consider having it spayed/neutered to help prevent the overpopulation of pets.
And most importantly, love your pet. You are the center of his universe and he craves your affection and attention.