Responsible dog ownership

Responsible dog ownership is a serious commitment

Before you decide to get a dog, you must pledge to be responsible and understand some of the most important rules of conscientious dog ownership. –(source)

Their needs must be met
The minimum health care needs for any dog include providing sufficient daily: fresh (nutritious) food that is appropriate for dogs, fresh water and exercise. Routine preventative vet care and medical attention should the dog become ill or injured, basic grooming, proper identification, adequate shelter, training and understanding.

Keep Your Dog Healthy
Always provide plenty of fresh water and an appropriate amount of quality (nutritious) food that is right for your dog. A place of shelter and comfort is also important for your dog’s physical and mental wellness, and exercise is a must. Because of their survival instincts, dogs are not as likely to show pain or illness the way a human would. Regular visits to your veterinarian are essential, as they can help you prevent serious health problems and detect minor issues before they become severe.

Adequate shelter
This can be indoors or out and provides the dog with protection from the elements – wind, rain, cold, heat, snow, ice. Adjustments to the dogs shelter may need to be made. A dog that is fine outside on a moderate fall day may get too cold in the winter and need to be brought inside or need a better insulated dog house. The intense heat, humidity and sun of Missouri summer days can life threatening. In a hard driving rain, a dog house may unexpectedly become flooded. It’s the responsibility of the owner to take these into consideration and to make necessary changes.

Provide Proper Identification
Your dog should wear a collar at all times with current identification. Consider microchipping your dog for an added layer of protection. Remember, collars and tags can fall off or be removed. Proper identification can help you become reunited with your dog if lost rather than letting your dog become one more homeless pet in an overcrowded shelter.

Make Time For Your Dog
Bonding is not something you can do once and assume it’s finished. The bond with your dog is built during the first few weeks to months of ownership, but maintaining the bond is a lifelong process. Being social animals, dogs require attention and exercise. They shouldn’t be left alone all day every day. Set aside time when your dog will have structured interaction. This should include interactive play, training and relaxing in your company. Make sure the dog gets enough exercise for his breed. Some breeds are very high in energy and need a lot of exercise, some are low energy and need moderate amounts of exercise. Learn what is right for your breed as well as for your own dog. If you’re a couch potato and you have a high energy dog, it’s not really fair to ask the dog to curl up and sleep all day. It would be better if you change your lifestyle to meet the dog’s needs. Interactive play means that you and the dog are playing together, rather than just handing the dog a ball and letting him amuse himself. Being a part of his playtime allows for more social development, a stronger bond, enables you to define some of his boundaries.

Train Your Dog
Canine etiquette not only benefits you and your dog; it also benefits others. A well-behaved and properly socialized dog is less likely to upset people and pets in public places and will be more welcome at gatherings. If your dog’s misbehavior results in any sort of accident, injury or similar incident, you must take full responsibility for that behavior. Don’t be surprised when you and your unruly dog are asked to leave a venue.

Spay and Neuter
Millions of pets are euthanized each year because of pet overpopulation. If you do not have your dog spayed or neutered you may be contributing to this problem. If your dog is suitable for breeding, be a responsible breeder. Mixed-breed dogs, purebred dogs with unknown genetic histories, and dogs with heath problems should not be allowed to breed. You can help save lives – please sterilize your pets!

Do Not Be a Backyard Breeder
If you choose to breed your dog, be sure to follow the proper protocols. Your dog should be a quality, healthy purebred with no congenital or hereditary problems. Educate yourself about breeding standards, become involved with a network of responsible breeders and find a veterinarian who can be involved along the way. Reputable breeders have years of experience and education. Breeding dogs is not just a hobby, it is a way of life.

Respect Others, Be Respected
Always supervise your dog when it’s outdoors. Do not let your dog wander the neighborhood or get out of your sight. Do not leave a barking dog outdoors. Continuous barking is not only unfair to your dog, it is rude and annoying to neighbors. Pick up after your dog. No one wants to step in or smell that “gift” your dog left behind. Please pick it up right away and dispose of it properly.