Dog ownership isn’t something that should ever be entered into lightly, nor should it be a decision made on a whim. Dogs depend on us to treat them well beyond just the basic necessities like food and shelter. They’re a responsibility and a lifetime commitment. Here are some of the things to keep in mind before becoming a dog parent.
Ownership really begins before your dog comes home. Though you might like a particular breed based on looks, it’s always best to do your research and find a dog that’s best suited to your lifestyle and personality. Once you’ve done your research, you’ll have a lot of questions. Write them down and know what you want to ask when you’re looking for further details.
READ MORE: FINDING YOUR PERFECT POOCH
2. Go reputable.
Once the research phase is complete, be sure to only visit reputable breeders and rescues. Reputable breeders will always have the mother on-site, details about the lineage of the dog, and will insist that you sign a contract which often includes a firm agreement to spay and neuter your pet. They will require you to arrive prepared with your own leash and collar for your new family member.
Reputable breeders and rescues ask questions of you too. They want to know about you, your lifestyle, your family, and your housing situation. Tough questions are asked because they want to be certain dogs are going to forever homes.
Red flags to watch out for are puppies that are being separated from their mothers too early, mothers that are not on-site, and someone who doesn’t ask questions or has little information.
3. Spay and neuter.
There are so many dogs in shelters and too many are euthanized simply because people don’t fix their pets. Be a responsible pet parent and ensure that your dog doesn’t contribute to over population. It’s also been proven healthier for your dog to be spayed and neutered, as it reduces the risk of certain reproductive cancers.
4. Ensure you have a veterinarian that you trust.
Dogs require at the very least annual examinations, and puppies require several vaccinations and physical examinations within their first year. Even before you bring your dog home ask around and get a recommendation as to who might be the best vet for your pet. Dogs absolutely need a vet— they’re vital to your their health and well-being.
Education and training are a crucial part of pet ownership. Whether you have a puppy or a 9-year-old rescue, taking a class is an excellent way for you to bond. They’re a learning tool and can be an effective introduction to socialization. There are various styles and techniques for training canines, like clicker-training. Ask around, get a recommendation, or if you meet a polite pooch while you’re out on a walk, take a moment to stop and ask the reasons behind their success.
If you find that you have specific issues with your dog, those that require more one-on-one attention, look into booking a few private training sessions. Group classes are wonderful, and it’s imperative that you’re able to teach your dog how to learn when surrounded by distractions. You’d be amazed how much some individual attention and personalized tips can do for you and your dog.
Ensuring that your dog is well groomed, and mat-free. Regular nail trims, brushing, and even teeth brushing are vital steps to keeping your pet healthy, comfortable and happy.
READ MORE: 7 TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR DOG’S TEETH HEALTHY
Dogs require both on-leash and off-leash exercise. If your dog is engaging in off-leash play, you’re going to want to ensure the area is safe and fully-fenced in, with no spaces for your dog to dash.
Dogs also require daily walks to keep them mentally and physically active. The duration of these walks does depend on breed, energy level and age. Ensure that you make the time to walk your dog daily. Not only is it great for the overall health of you and your dog, it’s an excellent way to bond and spend quality time together.
8. Healthy diet.
There are many different options out there when it comes to what to feed your dog. With so many to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Talk to your vet and fellow dog owners, see what they might suggest. Should you choose raw, home-cooked, or kibble, be sure to do your research, review the feeding guidelines, and learn what’s best for your pet.
Losing a dog is something no owner ever wants to experience. It’s imperative that your dog has a secure collar with proper identification. There are many designs to choose from and some are more informative than others.
It’s also important that you microchip your pet. It’s not just a gimmick, and the reunion stories aren’t a sales pitch. If your dog’s collar is absent with your dog is found, veterinarians and shelters scan the dogs in the hopes of finding you.
READ MORE: THE PET ID THAT PAYS IT FORWARD
10. Patience and unconditional love.
Our dogs give us so much. They teach us valuable life lessons and the easiest, most inexpensive thing we can give them is our love in return. Training takes time and it requires that you pack patience. There are ups and downs, accidents and mistakes, but at the end of the day, no one greets you like your dog does. Their love makes everything worth it. The happy times, the times they makes us laugh, are why they are deserving of the utmost kindness, respect, patience, and love.
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