Responsibilities to consider before becoming a dog owner

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019


K9 Corner

Are you a responsible dog owner? Or, are you thinking about becoming a dog owner, but have no idea that there are responsibilities that go with owning a dog?

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There are a number of websites available to help those in the thinking stage; the American Kennel Club has one “75 ways to be a Responsible Dog Owner.” I haven’t even read all 75 points yet.

How can you be responsible? First you should think about how a dog would fit into your current lifestyle. Do you have a job that allows you to take your dog to work? Do you have a safe place where the animal can spend the day while you work?

Let me tell you how I handled a (no dogs allowed) job and my first canine. She was young and a very active breed, but I found that a four mile run in the morning and evening satisfied her need for exercise and she slept while I went to work.

To bond with her, I allowed her to sleep at the foot of my bed. She had water available both in her daytime kennel and in the bathroom next to the bedroom. I also took her with me whenever I could.

When I was starting out as a “new” dog owner, I automatically thought: Puppy and purebred something. I took my time selecting the breed that would blend in with my schedule. I discovered mixed breeds early, when someone dropped a pup over my back fence and she proved to be too smart to be sent to the animal shelter.

Little by little I learned how to train my first dog by taking her to obedience school. The members of that club encouraged me to try new activities, and my dog and I enjoyed the socialization and challenges.

Years later, I found my joy in adopting older dogs. One, “free to a good home” retriever, was especially fun since he bonded with my Papillon (weight six pounds) and they played and slept together. To keep the retriever exercised, I asked a friend who coached softball to come over and play fetch with my dog. I was impressed with the distance he could throw the ball and the retriever delighted in running after it.

To be a responsible dog owner, you not only have to supply your new family member with food and water bowls, but also with toys to play with. It is also wise to select your veterinarian before you bring your dog home and arrange for a “meet and greet” session before the doctor checks him over the first time.

It is especially important to provide your dog with identification. Mine (including my cats) were all either tattooed with a registered number, or more recently microchipped, just in case they slipped away and lost their collar with the tags.

Well, I have only read 35 of the 75 tips for being a responsible dog owner, but you get the point. Having a pet takes thought and time and dedication, but the rewards are great.