K9 Corner, Sept. 12

BY HELEN PALMER

The American Kennel Club sent me a press release promoting responsible dog ownership which they celebrated with a day of fun and games in Raleigh, North Carolina this past Saturday. I think it is a good time to suggest some activities each one of us can practice in order to be more responsible dog owners.

For those who are still in the planning stage, evaluate your living conditions and your lifestyle before considering a breed or mixed breed. Answer such questions as what your living conditions are: Do you live in an apartment or a house or on a farm? That will be important regarding the size of your potential pet. The larger the dog the more space it requires to be comfortable. Another question, do you like very warm or very cool living conditions? The answer may determine the type of coat your dog should have.

How much exercise do you get for yourself? If you walk long distances or jog, you need an athletic breed. If you are more sedentary, think about a lapdog to keep you company. When you get your dog, remember the daily exercise periods. When I had only one medium size dog, I would give her an opportunity to run for several miles each day. When I had several dogs they would romp and play in my fenced backyard for an hour or so at least twice a day. My little papillon got plenty of exercise following me around and going up and down the stairs. I had to go out with her after the black vultures arrived in Danville. They did not bother her but when two sat on my chimney and watched her, it bothered me.

A responsible dog owner is proud of his/her dog and schedules a professional annual physical and a dental exam. As the animal ages, the owner should be even more observant for possible problems and take the dog to the veterinarian for additional scheduled visits as needed. Dental exams are important, but so is routine mouth care. Now that there are pastes and liquids for dogs that help dissolve plaque and tartar without brushing, there is no excuse to neglect the teeth and gums.

Grooming is another way the owner shows pride in his/her pet. Actually grooming can be a form of quality time if you talk to your dog as you comb out each section of hair from the tips to the roots thus getting rid of any tangles and mats. Combing and brushing can be another form of massaging too.

Teach your dog to relieve itself on command. I use the phrase “Tend to your business” and reaffirm the command by repeating “Business.” I have been complimented for using that phrase instead to the typical terms of “Go potty,” and so forth. Still, when I would take care of a friend’s pup for a weekend, I would use whatever phrase or command the owner used.

So have a wonderful, responsible September as you play and care for your pet.