What You Need to Know About Responsible Dog Ownership

Responsible dog ownership means more than simply loving your dog. Dog ownership is a serious commitment that takes time and energy. Before you decide to get a dog, make sure you can be a conscientious and attentive owner. In addition to meeting your dog's basic needs, there are some extremely important rules of responsible dog ownership you need to know.

  • 01 of 08

    Commit for the Long Haul

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    When you get a dog, it is not like getting a car. When your dog misbehaves, you can’t just trade it in. If it gets sick, it is your job to help it get well. If circumstances in your home environment change, you must consider the toll it will take on your dog and make every effort to help it along. When you decided to get your dog, you were committing to loving care for as much as 12 to 15 years or more. This means doing everything possible to keep your dog and care for it before you decide you must find it a new home.

  • 02 of 08

    Make Time for Your Dog

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    Bonding is not something you can do once and call it finished. The initial bond with your dog is built during the first few weeks to months of ownership, but maintaining this bond is a lifelong process. Remember that while you are at work, out with friends, or running errands, your dog is usually just waiting for you to come home. Schedule time each day to spend with your dog, whether it's for play, exercise, grooming, or just snuggling.

  • 03 of 08

    Provide Proper Identification

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    Your dog should wear a collar at all times with current identification to include your name, phone number, and a back-up number.

    Consider microchipping your dog for an added layer of protection. 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. Too many dogs wear collars without identification or tags. Don't let your dog become a statistic.

  • 04 of 08

    Spay and Neuter

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    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 health problems should not be allowed to breed. You can help save lives by sterilizing your pets!

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Don't Be a Backyard Breeder

    Labrador Retriever Puppies

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    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. Dog breeding is not just a job, a business, or a casual hobby. It's a way of life.

  • 06 of 08

    Keep Your Dog Healthy

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    Always provide plenty of fresh drinking water and an appropriate amount of quality nutrition 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 as humans. Regular visits to your veterinarian are essential because they can help you prevent serious health problems and detect minor issues before they become severe.

  • 07 of 08

    Train Your Dog

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    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. Additionally, well-trained dogs are more content because they have been given a sense of structure.

  • 08 of 08

    Respect Others

    Low section of woman walking with dog on street
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    This may seem like common sense to some of us, but there are still dog owners out there who do not seem to understand. Please help give dog owners a good name by following these rules:

    • Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced-in yard when outdoors. Even if you live where it is legal to allow your dog off-leash, you should supervise it at all times. Do not let it wander the neighborhood or get out of your sight.
    • 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. For convenience, try a bag dispenser that attaches to your dog's leash.
    • Do not leave a barking dog outdoors. Continuous barking is not only unfair to your dog, but it is also rude and annoying to neighbors.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.