Getting a pet and maintaining them is a big responsibility. And the fact that you’re here because you tried to look for information on how to be a responsible pet owner just means that you are preparing for that responsibility. And for that, you are actually already a responsible pet owner. 

Because the reality is that many dog owners just want a dog as a companion but they do not understand that they are just like little kids who have needs. Thus, these dogs end up in shelters or rehomed. In the recent pet statistics based on national estimates published by the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter US animal shelters every year with over 3.3 million dogs. And each year, over 670,000 of them are euthanized. 

So if you’re here because you’re getting a dog, that’s good. So here are some tips and advice on how to become a full-fledged responsible fur parent. 

1. Research and assess

Before you go and pick up a dog, it’s best to know your wants, needs, and circumstances well. 

  • First research what dog breed you want as a companion and that means knowing the basics about the dog. While dogs interact differently to people and situations, it’s good to know what you’re basically dealing with. 
  • If you already have a pet, it’s best to make sure which breed will be compatible. That goes the same if you have kids. But if you plan to adopt, it’s good to make room for options. 
  • Assess your lifestyle which is not only inclusive of financial capability of taking care of a dog. Again, they’re just like little kids and you need to allocate time for them and be present as much as you can. Taking time to do these assessments will help you get a clearer picture of the responsibility. 

2. Adopt. Don’t shop

You have probably heard of this before and we strongly advocate for this as well. Again there are over 3 million dogs that enter dog shelters in the US everyday, and an estimated 600,000 get euthanized. 

The rate of adoption for dogs is around 1.6 million per year and despite that large number, there are still a lot of them left in shelters. And these dogs also deserve a loving home that would take care of them. In recent statistics, around 34% of dogs are purchased from breeders, 12% from private parties, and 32% other methods. 

While it’s entirely your choice where to get your dog, we hope that you also look at local animal shelters because who knows? Maybe you’d find your best friend there!

3. Spay or neuter them

Some people think that getting your dog spayed or neutered is an “inhumane” thing to do for them. But actually, it’s not. As we’ve mentioned before, millions of dogs end up in shelters and it’s not like they chose that life for themselves. And a lot of them get euthanized simply because shelters cannot afford to hold them anymore. 

One way to reduce the number of animals that end up in shelters is through spaying or neutering your pet. But aside from that, spaying or neutering have science-backed health benefits which include less risk for cancers and even behavioral problems. 

Sometimes, dogs are put into shelters or rehomed because owners cannot handle aggressive behaviors and this is one way to approach that concern.

4. Put proper identification on them

Losing your dog is an inevitable situation. It could happen at any point in time like if you’re just walking or playing in the dog park. They could also even wander outside of your homes. Instead of focusing your energy on not letting that happen, it’s also a good approach to be prepared when that happens. 

To safeguard your dog and ensure that it could find its way back home to you, have your pet wear a collar with your name and contact details. It’s always the first line of defense when they get lost. But of course, there’s also the possibility of collars getting lost. You can also get your dog microchipped and registered. It is a very valuable identification piece which has information that proves your ownership. 

5. Provide all of their basic needs

When you get a dog, it’s not just for a companion when you’re sad or a display. So here are the basic things that you should make sure that you do for your dog.

  • Feed your dog properly. That means provide it with a healthy diet because that’s one of the best forms of care that you can give them. 
  • Give them a selection of toys. These will help entertain them especially when you can’t do it due to work and other situations. It will also ensure that they won’t run after things inside your home to keep them busy. 
  • Train them. This builds a strong bond with mutual trust and respect. 
  • Walk them for at least an hour everyday. This is not only time that you can bond with your dog but also helps in maintaining that they are physically healthy. Also, dogs need to expend their energy and this is one way to do it. 
  • Let them socialize. Just like any little kid, socializing is good for your dog’s health. 
  • Pick up after them. This is mostly about being respectful and considerate of others especially when you’re outside. 

6. Schedule annual check-ups with the vet

This is generally beneficial to ensure that your dog is physically healthy. This also provides an opportunity to spot any medical issues and prevent them at the early onset. Annual vet checkups are also important in getting regular vaccines and other medications. 

7. Include them in your future plans

They’re part of your family now and that means that they should also be considered in major plans. For example if you’re moving homes, you should also ensure that they would be safe and secure throughout the travel. You should also check on the community that they are dog-friendly (housing situations also affect this if you plan on living from a single family home to a condo). 

8. Don’t abandon them

They’re your responsibility and a lifetime commitment as well. That’s why it’s very important to do your research and assessment so that they don’t end up on the streets just because you weren’t responsible enough with your choices. 

But if due to some circumstances, you can’t really take care of them then drop them off at a local shelter. That way, they would be given a chance to find a home. Or better yet, you could try and personally find them another home. 

9. Keep them safe

Just like in getting them collars and injecting them with microchips, pet-proofing your house and adding extra safeguards to ensure their protection are also important. Basically, put all harmful substances and equipment safely away from their reach. You can also install gates to keep them in when needed. 

10. Give them lots of love

Every dog deserves love and care. Most especially adopted dogs because most of them are rescue dogs. No one knows what are the struggles they experienced and what other pain they have experienced. 

Give them lots of love because to your dog, you are the only human in the world. 

The Bottomline

Dogs are a responsibility and lifelong commitment. As Christine of Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue said about adoption which can also be applied if you bought a dog (although we encourage you to really adopt), “Adopt with the intention of forever, no matter what. Know the cost, time, and emotional effort may be high but in the end, the rewards are priceless.”