Love should be enough when it comes to being a responsible dog owner, right? Well, yes and no – that’s part of why the pet sitting business it taking off so rapidly. Being the perfect dog owner sometimes involves a little bit more thinking and planning but never fear, it’s ultimately easy. First we have to focus on the fundamentals and basics like ensuring that we’re providing enough mental and physical stimulus via exercise and activities, that we’re getting the diet right, that we’re ensuring we give enough emotional attention and giving them the perfect space to sleep/live. These are the ways we can keep our dogs happy and give back a bit, considering how much joy they bring our lives (it’s even widely accepted that dogs help us treat symptoms of problems like anxiety and depression). As for being a responsible dog owner however, we’ve broken it down to six basics that you should focus on, while always considering the aforementioned topics. If you can’t manage to get it all done, you should consider a doggy daycare option, or even someone who can simply walk your dog for you.
1. Take annual check-ups seriously
The number one concern is our dogs’ health, and the best way to ensure it is it to commit to regular vet check-ups. Unless your dog shows any symptoms, be they physical or indicative of mental issues like separation anxiety, an annual visit should cover you. However, you need to be prepared for the costs of any additional visits that may be required. If you’ve just been blessed with the pleasure of adopting a new dog, we suggest taking them directly to the vet for all necessary injections, checks and medications that might need to be administered.
At the regular annual check-up, however, the vet will take care of yearly shots and observe your dog for any health issues that may have escaped your notice or simply not be detectable to the untrained eye. While the annual check-up is very important, it’s equally important not to depend on it. If you see any problems or any signs of abnormal behaviour, book into the vet immediately.
2. Don’t skip any flea, tick or heart-worm prevention treatments
Yes, we know that flea, tick and heart-worm treatments are expensive, however the problems they prevent can be far pricier than the prevention will ever cost. Not to mention the most important element; the prevention of any distress of medical concerns for your dog. If you’re unclear on the correct way to administer these medications, be they topical or oral, or want clarification on exactly how they work, how often your dog needs them and on which brands or variations to opt for, consulting with your vet is the best option. This is something you can discuss at the annual check-up, but if that’s too far away, schedule an additional appointment.
3. Spay or neuter your dog
While most dog owners in Australia are responsible enough to spay or neuter, the problem of those who refuse to do so still exists. Among myths about mental impact or the concept that it’s cruel, some people resist the treatment or procedure because they think they’re doing what’s best for their dog, others are lazy or irresponsible. Either way, this is something that should be done on all accounts as it prevents undesired situations such as pregnancy and is pivotal in controlling overpopulation, which means less dogs in shelters and less being euthanized – something we can all say we want. Desexing your female dog also means that they won’t have to endure uncomfortable or painful heat periods, and reduces their risk of uterine cancer and mammary cancer. If your dog is male, benefits include prevention of testicular cancer and a reduction in the tendency to roam.
4. Register and chip your dog
Depending on your council this can be somewhat of an annoying process but for the most part, it’s very easy to get your dog chipped and registered. Additionally, ensuring they’re wearing a collar with tags that have your phone number inscribed are crucial elements of responsible dog ownership. If they ever run away or get lost, this increases the chances of them being returned to you drastically. The process of getting your dog chipped is surprisingly straightforward and your vet will most likely be able to insert the chip, equipped with a tracking number, during a short visit.
We all want our dogs to be clean, and none of us want them to smell bad. Nevertheless, we all have lazy days and sometimes we let their grooming get away from us a big. If you have a short haired dog then they’re obviously not as high maintenance as their medium and long haired counterparts, but it’s still vital to give them a bath at least once every three months. If you do have a medium or long haired dog, once a month or even once every two weeks is advised. To properly wash your dog, you need to ensure that all of their fur is completely coated in water, then you’ll want to massage shampoo into their fur before rinsing it out completely. The most important point here is to make sure that you don’t use human shampoo, because many of the ingredients can be irritating to dogs’ skin. Pet stores and even supermarkets usually stock dog shampoo in the pet section, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding the products that you need.
Once you’ve finished with the bath, reward your dog with plenty of treats and positive affirmations to help them associate bath time with positive emotions.
Regular brushing is also important as it not only keeps their coat healthy and clean, it will allow you to see if any skin irritations or irregularities are appearing.
6. Access to fresh water
Getting the diet of our dogs right is an important and extensive topic, but a side-note that doesn’t always receive as much direct attention is the importance of making sure your dog gets enough water. Whether your dog spends the day in the garden or is spending the almost the whole time in a small apartment, it’s vital that they always have access to fresh water. Like humans, dogs need more water than they often get. Depending on their size, many dogs need between 1.5 and 2 litres a day. Always keep bowls clean, refill them daily and place them in several locations.
What do you think? Do you do anything additional as a responsible dog owner? Let us know in the comments section!
Tiahn Wetzler is a journalist, writer, editor and animal lover. Follow her on Instagram @tiahnwetzler