Every once in a while, it’s good to check in to make sure you’re being a responsible dog parent! Here’s some advice that’ll help you tick all the boxes.
Humans and dogs have a wonderful, unique bond. The happiness they bring to our lives is absolutely priceless. But there’s more to dog ownership than simply playing fetch and snuggling on the couch. When you bring a dog into your life, you are making a lifelong commitment to care for him and his well-being – and that means acting responsibly! Here’s a few ways to be a more responsible dog parent:
1. Train him properly
One of your duties as a dog owner is to ensure that your dog is properly trained. You don’t need to turn him into a top performing show dog, but you should be able to control him with a few essential commands. Basic obedience is crucial for the safety of you, your dog, and other living beings around you. Even unintentionally, an out-of-control animal can easily hurt himself or others. Simple commands such as sit, stay, and heel can make a world of difference in your dog’s daily life.
2. Seek understanding
Your dog might not be able to talk, but that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate. Communication problems can lead to a frustrating relationship for both you and your dog, so make an effort to figure out what he’s trying to say, and teach him to understand your cues and signals as well. It will take time to find your rhythm, but ensuring that you understand each other will lead to a happier, more productive relationship.
3. Be kind
Even when your dog has an accident on your new rug or chews up your favorite pair of shoes, always treat him with kindness and respect. If you catch your dog in the act, you can take steps to correct the behavior. If not, you’re out of luck — he won’t understand what he did wrong if you punish him after the fact. Instead, work on training your dog in a positive way to promote the behavior you’d like to see.
4. Provide preventative care
Part of owning a dog is keeping him in good physical health, and preventative healthcare can help thwart injuries and illnesses before they become serious. This means visiting the vet for regular check-ups, using natural remedies to protect him from fleas, ticks, and heartworm, and getting him titer tested to ensure he’s protected against potentially fatal diseases. In addition, he’ll need proper exercise and a healthy diet that fits his specific needs.
5. Spend less time online
It’s easy to forgo spending quality time with your pooch because you’re so “busy” with your devices. Remember that while your dog is only one part of your life, you are his entire life. He would love nothing more than for you to put your phone down and focus your attention on him. Make an effort to unplug and snuggle up on the couch together, go for an extra walk, or spend some time playing. It will deepen the bond you share with your four-legged friend, and it’s much healthier than scrolling through your Facebook feed!
6. Keep him safe
Always be attentive and aware of potential threats to your dog’s safety. Make sure he wears a collar with an ID tag, and that he is microchipped. Even if your dog obeys every command you give, keep him on a leash when law requires it. Never leave him in your car in extreme temperature or weather, and make sure your home and yard are secure. You can’t prevent all accidents from happening, but many issues are avoidable if you prioritize your dog’s safety.
7. Exercise him regularly
Dogs need regular exercise just like humans do. Depending on your dog’s energy levels, he may require a few short walks a day, or hours of running and playtime. Lack of exercise can lead to health and behavioral problems for your pooch, including obesity, barking and whining, difficulty sleeping, and destructive habits. Mental exercises like puzzle games or hide-and-seek can help release some of his energy, but physical exercise is still a necessity for his health.
8. Understand your dog’s breed
Take some time to research your dog’s breed. Knowing what he was bred to do can shed a lot of light on his behavior and mental state. Perhaps your dog is doing something you interpret as negative, but in his mind he’s just doing his job, such as guarding or herding. If you understand these instincts, you can figure out a way to accommodate them in a safe way that keeps both of you happy.
9. Make him a priority
Dog-loving millennials are so devoted to their furry friends that they often base major life decisions around their needs. While you don’t have to go to that extreme, take a page out of their book and prioritize your dog. You chose to bring him into your life, so it’s your responsibility to consider his health and happiness in your day-to-day activities. That might mean skipping the occasional happy hour to ensure he gets an evening walk or spending your morning at the dog park instead of the gym – but these small sacrifices are worth it!
10. Love him!
The best thing you can do for your dog? Love him unconditionally. Your dog already adores you, but he’ll love you even more if you pay him the attention he deserves! Play his favorite games, take him for long walks, and shower him with affection. Do this, and you’ll have a best friend for life!
Madison Ann Baker is a writer, Netflix-binger, and pop culture enthusiast who lives in Idaho. Literature and linguistics are her two passions, both of which she studied in college. She enjoys writing about animals and health and wellness, but dabbles in a little bit of everything. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Borador, Dash, and re-reading Harry Potter. https://twitter.com/mabakerwrites