Responsible pet ownership month generally leaves us talking about spaying and neutering, vaccinations, dental heath, training and more but I’d like to take a different approach and talk about things from the other end of the leash.
You are the advocate for your dog and being a responsible pet owner means protecting your dog from dangers as well as protecting your dog from himself and setting him up to succeed. Dogs don’t have the ability to apply reason and logic so we have to do the thinking for them and be proactive in our approach to pet parenting. Here’s some easy ways to set your dog up to succeed:
- Be consistent: Dogs learn by repetition and consistency so if your dog jumps on people it’s probably your fault. If you let your dog jump on you after you’ve been gone at work for a long day, but don’t want them to jump on you when you come home from the grocery store or are wearing nice clothes…you are setting your dog up to fail. Your Dog can’t distinguish when you want them to jump and when you want them to keep their four feet on the floor so if you want them to have good manners then no jumping means no jumping, on anyone, at anytime.
- Be clear: Dogs don’t speak English so if you’re constantly changing the verbal command for a behavior or even changing the tone of your voice you aren’t helping your dog succeed. Stick to one command for one behavior, so if “down” means lie down on the floor, then don’t say “down” when your dog jumps on you. You’re making down mean 2 different things and confusing your dog. If “down” means lie down on the floor then use “off” or something similar to mean “get your paws off me and put them on the floor”.
- Be creative: If your dog has a decent handle on obedience commands be creative and USE THEM! People always say, “My Dog jumps on people when they come over”. If your dog knows how to sit, give them something to do before they jump up on people…like sit! 10 minutes of mental stimulation is like 30 minutes of physical exercise for a dog, so the more you practice those obedience commands, the better of you and your dog are.
- Be cautious: Always err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to strangers greeting your dog and ESPECIALLY with children. Unfortunately, the majority of society doesn’t know how to greet a dog and even worse, they really excel at making your dog uncomfortable and pushing them to the point they might bite. You never want to risk your dog putting its teeth on a human, so always be cautious and keep your dog safe. If your dog bites a child, it’s not the child who pulled on his tail that’s going into quarantine with the potential for euthanasia, it’s your dog. It’s better to be a bit rude and make your point that your dog doesn’t want to be touched then to bite your tongue when that person who “loves dogs” sticks their face in your dogs face. It is your responsibility to keep your dog safe!
- Be capable: Being a responsible pet owner means providing quality care for your pet for the duration of their life. While puppies are cute and fun, they don’t stay puppies forever. If you are taking on the responsibility of a dog you’re taking it on for life. Be responsible and spay/neuter your dog, keep them up to date on vaccines, in good health, and meet their emotional and physical needs. No one knows what the future holds and if you find yourself in a situation where you can no longer be a responsible pet parent, do your research and find a reputable rescue that’s capable of taking in your pet and re-homing it.