Adding a dog to your family is exciting, but it also adds responsibilities as well. Whether you buy a dog from a reputable breeder or adopt one from a shelter, you are committing to loving and caring for that dog for the rest of their life. Here are a few important ways to be a responsible dog owner:
1. Make Sure You Can Care For a Dog
One of the most important ways to be a responsible dog owner is to make sure you have the time, resources, and space needed to care for a dog before you bring one home. First and foremost, are you ready to be a dog owner?
You need to seriously evaluate your lifestyle and make sure you can commit to caring for a dog. If you can’t, it’s one of the big signs you’re not ready for a puppy.
2. Figure Out the Right Breeds For You
If you have all the signs getting a puppy is the right decision, then it’s time to figure out what you need to look for in a dog that fits your home and your lifestyle. If you don’t have a ton of time every day to dedicate to daily exercise, then you know a high-energy dog breed is not a good fit for you.
By taking the time to examine your life and honestly evaluate it, you can make a list of specific things to look for in breeds that might be a good fit for you. Figuring out the energy level, size, grooming level of a puppy, and more can all help you narrow down to specific breeds that are likely to be a better fit for you than others.
3. Ensure You’re Talking to Responsible Breeders
Unfortunately, puppy mills and bad breeders are still a problem. One of the ways to be a responsible dog owner and help stop puppy mills is to ensure you’re talking to responsible breeders when you are looking to buy.
Membership to official breed clubs, knowledge of the breed, transparency and honesty, and more are all qualities to look for in a great breeder. Even if you are not buying and you are adopting from a rescue or a shelter, it’s important to make sure you are dealing with a reputable organization.
4. Prepare Your Home For a Dog
Once you know you’re bringing a puppy or a dog home, you need to prepare your home for a dog. This often means puppy-proofing your home and picking up all of the necessities you will need to properly care for your new dog.
There are several must-haves for first-time dog owners that will cover the basic items you will need to take care of your new dog or puppy. Depending on the breed, size, coat type, and more, there may be other specific items you need to pick up.
5. Start Training and Socializing Immediately
If you are bringing a puppy into your family, it’s important to start training and socializing them immediately. The breeder should have started some of it, but it is up to you to continue to train and socialize a puppy once you get them home.
Good training and proper socialization are essential for a puppy to grow into a confident, well-behaved dog. There are several benefits of puppy training classes, which include reinforcing training and socialization opportunities. So, it’s a good idea to be prepared to enroll in them.
Training and socialization don’t stop once your puppy finishes growing; they’re things you continue to do throughout your dog’s life. This is why it’s still important to start training and socializing immediately even if you are bringing an older dog into your family.
6. Take Them to the Vet Regularly
A puppy will have several necessary visits to the vet to make sure they are developing on track, to get appropriate vaccinations, and more. After that, you will still need to make regular visits to the vet to make sure your dog is healthy, that their tags are updated, and more.
You want to have a good relationship with your vet and know you can trust them. Choosing the right veterinarian goes a long way in building that trust and also benefitting your dog. A good vet will be an invaluable resource for taking the best care of your dog possible.
7. Feed Your Dog Nutrient-Rich Food
Feeding your dog nutrient-rich food, and enough of it, is essential for their growth. How much and how often to feed a puppy will vary based on the breed, size, recommended feeding schedule from your vet, etc.
This is important information to know to make sure you are giving your dog what they need to stay happy and healthy. There are some basic tips you can follow to choose the best dog food. If your dog has anything specific they need, your vet can help you identify options to meet those needs.
8. Groom Them Properly
When it comes to coat care, grooming needs will vary from dog to dog. Depending on their coat type, they may need specific types of dog grooming brushes. Brushing and bathing frequency will vary as well. Some dogs will need to visit the dog groomer for clipping and shaping regularly.
It’s important to remember that low-shedding or non-shedding does not mean low maintenance. Poodle coats, for example, are known for their low or non-shedding properties, but they require daily brushing, regular visits to the groomer, and more. It’s also important to make sure you choose the right dog groomer; they need to know how to clip and care for your dog’s coat properly.
Regardless of coat type, all dogs will need to have their nails trimmed regularly, ears checked regularly, and teeth brushed regularly. Good dental care for dogs is done daily, started early, and kept consistent throughout a dog’s life. Nail trims are usually once or twice a month while ear checks are weekly.
Depending on the breed of your dog, there may be other grooming tasks you need to do. Dogs with wrinkles, like bulldog breeds, will need to have their facial wrinkles checked and cleaned regularly to prevent skin issues, irritation, or infection.
9. Make Sure Your Dog Gets Enough Exercise
Although individual dogs will vary and they will often try to match your activity level, different groups and breeds of dogs tend to fall into different activity ranges. A high-energy working dog is going to need a lot more daily exercise than a low-energy companion dog.
It’s important for you to know how much exercise your dog needs to be happy and healthy. You also need to know how much exercise is too much so you don’t overdo it. This is important at any time in your dog’s life, but is particularly important when your puppy is still growing.
Doing too much, too intensely when your puppy is still growing can damage developing bones and joints. Once puppies finish growing, you are usually clear to take on a variety of activities with them.
However, you still want to clear new activities with your vet first to make sure they are a good fit for your dog. For example, there are some dog breeds that make good running partners while others are not a good fit for that activity.
10. Keep Them Safe From Parasites
Heartworm, fleas, ticks, and more are all parasites that are dangerous to your dog. Heartworm in dogs can become a serious, and fatal, condition if left untreated while ticks can cause Lyme Disease in both humans and dogs.
There are a lot of things you can do around your house and yard to help reduce ticks, fleas, and other pests. One of the easiest things you can do to protect your dog from fleas, ticks, and heartworm is to use a comprehensive prevention year-round and to regularly check over your dog for parasites.
These are just a few ways to be a responsible dog owner. In return for the care and love you give your dog, they’ll reward you with unconditional love, free cuddles, plenty of laughs, and more.
If you’re ready to add a dog to your family, do some research on the breeds that could be the best fit for you, your home, and your lifestyle. Then, check out the available puppies. You could end up finding your new best friend!
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