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Five Habits of Responsible Dog Parents

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Every third Saturday in September, the U.S. celebrates Responsible Dog Ownership Day. This year, we celebrate on Saturday, September 18.

The American Kennel Club created Responsible Dog Ownership Days to help educate the public in their communities about the responsibilities of dog ownership and help current owners enhance their relationships with their pets.

With that in mind, here are 5 habits all responsible dog owners have in common!

Responsible Dog Ownership

1. Responsible dog owners choose the right dog for their lifestyle.

Before bringing a dog into your heart and home, consider your lifestyle and choose a new best friend that’s the right fit. Do you work long hours away from home? A young puppy in need of training (and frequent potty breaks) might not be the best choice. Are you very active or do you prefer to chill with a good book or movie? Dogs that are very energetic or need extra exercise will be better suited for active families, while senior pups or more laid-back dogs will love spending time cuddling on the sofa with you.

Do you live in a home, with a yard, or do you live in an apartment or condo without one? Keep in mind that your dog will depend on you for everything, including meals, exercise, potty breaks, and cuddle time.

Responsible dog owners always choose the dog that perfectly fits their lifestyle – or, they’re prepared to change their lifestyle in order to provide for their four-legged family.

2. Responsible dog owners train their dogs.

At any given time, there are several million dogs sitting in shelters and rescues looking for a family of their own. The number one reason so many end up homeless – lack of training.

Responsible dog owners always take the time to train their dogs.

Not only is the time spent training a dog excellent for bonding and improving communication, it’s essential for peaceful cohabitation. Basic cue training – sit, stay, lay down, come – as well as training your dog what’s expected of him – not jumping on visitors, not destroying the sofa cushions, or burying your favorite keepsakes in the backyard – are vital for a happy, safe, and comfortable life shared with a dog.

Good Dog Owners

3. Responsible dog owners keep their dogs safe and healthy.

As a dog owner, you’re responsible for every aspect of your dog’s care, health, and safety. Good dog parents make certain their home is puppy-proofed and free from potential dangers. They’re knowledgeable on which snacks are dangerous and which plants are toxic and keep them safely out of reach.

Responsible dog owners provide necessary veterinary care, both in an emergency and at annual wellness visits.

They provide preventive care, like flea and tick prevention and necessary vaccines. They keep a pet first aid kit at the ready and are always prepared to provide the very best care for their four-legged family.

4. Responsible dog owners provide physical AND mental exercise.

Dogs require a significant amount of both physical and mental stimulation in order to be healthy and happy. Veterinarians recommend at least 20 minutes of physical exercise, like brisk walks, jogging, or playing sports like agility or Frisbee, at a bare minimum, every single day.

Responsible dog owners are willing to devote the time needed to meet their dog’s physical exercise needs.

In addition to physical exercise, dogs need mental exercise, too! At least an hour each day should be spent engaging directly with your dog, either playing, doing training exercises, working through mental games, like treat puzzles, or spending time together bonding. (Don’t miss this great guide to Keeping Your Dog Mentally Sharp!). Mental exercise not only prevents boredom, but builds important self confidence, too.

Responsible dog owners not only devote this time to their dogs, but enjoy every minute of it.

5. Responsible dog owners think of their dogs as a lifelong commitment.

Depending on their size and breed, dogs are a 10 to 20+ year commitment. A lot can change in 10 or 20 years – jobs, living situations, and lifestyles.

Responsible dog owners always consider their dog before making major life decisions.

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