What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner?

Niki
September 29, 2022

At OneMind Dogs, our guiding mission is clear: giving dogs a better life. A huge part of this is helping people understand what it means to be a responsible dog owner. Today, we’re looking at four things every new owner should know before bringing a pet home: self-assessment, research, training and health.

What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner?

The amazing experiences our pets bring us can be life-changing, but we have a responsibility to make their lives just as fulfilling. We’ve broken down four important ways to do this. Together, these steps will equip you with the knowledge to start the journey.

Here’s what you should consider.

Self-assessment

Self-assessment is about evaluating if you’re ready to become a pet owner, so it should happen at the very start of the process. Before you get a dog, spend some time figuring out whether it’s the right moment to add a new canine member to your family. There are three areas you can look at when deciding. 

Do you have the available resources?

Dogs are a big responsibility. Giving your dog the best quality of life means having the following resources: time, energy, and money. Money is the easiest resource to assess but don’t just look at the finances you have on hand. Consider long-term expenses like food and healthcare 一 and unexpected costs like emergency vet visits. 

Time and energy go hand in hand. Your dog will need a routine that meets all their needs. A part of your daily schedule needs to be free for bonding, feeding and teaching basic skills.

Do you have secure and adequate space?

Even the most relaxed dogs need space around the house to stay stimulated and live a good life. Exercise and training work best in dedicated spaces like a backyard or open lounge area too. Before you bring your puppy home, you should make sure your home is safe. Boundaries need to be secure so your puppy won’t escape or get hurt.

Can you provide a stimulating environment?

Every dog is unique, but, like us, they share a few basic needs. Food and shelter are the obvious ones, but learning and stimulation are vital too. Dogs need to physically and mentally stimulated on a daily basis to feel fulfilled and prevent behavioral issues. This is a good time to read up and study dog training. Spend some time thinking about what it takes to be an awesome owner. Relationships form easiest when you know how to start building trust with your puppy from day one.

Research

Don’t worry, we wouldn’t advise that without giving you some tips on how to do it! Research is key to responsible pet ownership and equips you with the tools to create the best possible environment. So what should you research before bringing a new dog home?

Care requirements for different breeds

A dog’s breed plays a huge role in its behavior, relationships, and care needs. Find out about different breeds and what they were originally meant for. 

If you live in an apartment building, it might not be a great idea to get a breed known for alert barking. If you don’t lead an active lifestyle, it’s best to avoid breeds meant for working, hunting, and other physical activities. 

Remember dogs can’t change their genetic nature and temperament. An active breed like, say, a border collie, will make its own work if it’s understimulated (and you may not enjoy the results).

Reputable breeders and rescue organizations

The next step is to figure out where to get your dog. Research reputable breeders or well-established rescue organizations in your area. 

Breeders should health test their dogs for known diseases and some states require breeders to operate with a license under certain conditions, so it’s a good idea to look this up first. At a personal level, a good breeder will let you meet other dogs they’ve bred, including the dam of the litter you’re interested in. 

By getting to know their other dogs and spending time with them, you’ll get an idea of whether the dogs could be a good fit for you. 

Professional support and guidance

When you ask a reputable breeder about your puppy, they’ll tell you the positives and negatives. They won’t let you choose a puppy on looks alone, and for good reason. Choosing a dog based on its color or look isn’t a responsible decision in the long term. 

A knowledgeable and ethical breeder will help you select the right puppy closer to time. They have a better idea of each puppy’s personality and how they might fit different families. Finally, they’ll begin socializing your puppy in preparation while providing veterinary care for the litter (inoculations, de-worming, etc.).

Training

When all things are aligned, owning a dog is a fantastic experience. When you have a dog in the family, you’ll find yourself enjoying fresh air and exercise every day, in all sorts of weather! At this point, though, we should emphasize that owning a dog doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be happier. It takes work 一 training specifically, to live an easy and happy life with your dog. 

The key to a happy home

The kind of life you dream about is possible, but it starts with having a well-trained and socialised dog. Training isn’t just about obedience and behavior. It starts with understanding your dog’s point of view and creating a solid relationship through it, making life better for both of you. 

A responsible dog owner starts training their new puppy the moment they bring it home, and training themselves even before the puppy joins the family!

What kind of training should you opt for?

Training should be fun, encourage bonding, and teach through sound techniques. Remember, it’ll continue throughout a dog’s life, so opt for humane, positive and science-based training methods. The dog’s perspective should be front of mind when training your dog to make training enjoyable for you both.

Socializing responsibly

An important ownership role is ensuring your dog won’t harm itself or anyone else around it. When outside, it’s always a great idea to follow local leash laws. Interactions with other dogs and humans should be done in a way that you can control and that suits your dog’s personality and temperament. 

Train your puppy thoughtfully in public places when strengthening your relationship. The key is to teach them to focus on you and ignore other people and dogs. When you are the center of your dog’s universe, everything is easier! Public spaces also give your dog a chance to practice communication with other canines if that’s what you’d like to encourage, but only when you’re there to manage the exchange.

Health

Your dog’s mental and physical health is one of your primary responsibilities as a dog owner. There are many different options when it comes to feeding your dog and you can find lots of information online such as this guide written by a canine nutritionist. 

Dietary supplements may also be beneficial for your dog, depending on their health and activities. For example, a dog with joint disease such as arthritis (or predisposition to such a disease) or one that takes part in a high level of physical activity would benefit from a join support supplement such as Antinol for long-term health and comfort. Speak to a canine nutritionist if you’re not sure what type of supplements would suit your dog.

Mental health is a vital aspect of your dog’s overall health. Dogs are happiest when they are regularly stimulated both mentally and physically. Activities for mental health could consist of sniffing games (where you hide treats around the yard or in a food puzzle) or fun training exercises like this one.

Responsibility is a daily practice

At the end of the day, a responsible dog owner makes sure their dog stays healthy and happy throughout its life. What are your thoughts about good dog ownership? Do you agree, or have any other thoughts or ideas to share?

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