Dogs bring humans a lot of joy. They’re great companions, and so it’s not surprising for humans to feel like they’re a big part of their lives and their families. However, there are some things you need to be a responsible dog owner. Dog owners want their furry friends to be as healthy and happy as possible, and that requires some preparation, effort, and time. There are several responsibilities dog owners have towards their dogs that are important to be aware of. It’s not always easy but it’s always worth it.

1. Preparing a dog-friendly house

Dogs are curious creatures and a home environment is a perfect place to explore different sights, smells, and sounds. Even before bringing home a new puppy, you should dog-proof your home. Make sure that anything that is breakable or “chewable” is out of reach and that all electrical cords are inaccessible.

Block the passage to any area you don’t want your dog to access, and any house plants that are toxic to dogs or other household products that can harm your furry new arrival.

2. Guarantee appropriate nutrition

Learn the basics of dog nutrition and always talk to your vet about what type of food is the right one for your dog and how to feed it appropriately. Having good control over your dog’s feeding habits is crucial to preventing obesity or any other weight-related health problems, and will help you to know whenever there are any changes to your dog’s appetite which can be a sign that it needs veterinary assistance.

Avoid changing your dog’s diet unless your vet says to do so, and always ensure there’s fresh and clean water available at all times.

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3. Neuter your dog

Neutering a dog means having its sexual organs surgically removed. That way, your dog is unable to breed and have puppies. Only a veterinarian surgeon is able to perform this procedure and It’s done under a general anesthetic. By neutering your dog you’re preventing unplanned pregnancies, which is the best way to help fight pet homelessness and overpopulation. Besides, neutered dogs also live a longer and healthier life and are less likely to develop behavioral problems.

4. Microchip your dog and use an ID tag

The microchips used to identify dogs are about the same size as a grain of rice and is placed by a vet below the dog’s skin. It transmits an identification number to a scanner, which displays the number on the screen. The identification number links to your dog’s details, including your name, address, and phone number. This means your dog will be instantly identified when scanned by a vet or rescue center. And therefore, microchipping your dog is a great way to increase your odds of reuniting in case it gets lost.

However, a microchip can only be read with a scanner which only vets and rescue centers have. Therefore, it’s also important to have an ID tag attached to your dog’s collar at all times so that anyone that comes across your dog has access to your phone number or address. The information on your dog’s ID tag and microchip should be up to date at all times.

5. Keep up on your dog’s vet care

A big part of keeping your dog healthy is working on preventing diseases and parasites. In order to do that, regular check-ups at the vet are mandatory in order for your dog to be vaccinated and dewormed. Besides regular check-ups, you should also create an emergency fund to cover emergency pet care in case the unexpected occurs.

That way, your dog can have the best treatment as soon as possible in the event of an emergency. You may also consider getting pet insurance as it can help manage any unexpected veterinary costs.

6. Set house rules and work on basic obedience training

From the moment your dog steps into your house for the first time, you’ll need to teach what is and what’s not appropriate behavior. You can’t change the rules later on and expect your dog to know they’ve changed. It’s important that all the members of the household are aware of these house rules to keep consistency. Dogs should also learn basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” as these can help keep your dog safe and even save its life in an emergency situation.

7. Provide plenty of physical and mental exercise

There isn’t a dog in the world that doesn’t need some form of exercise. Some dogs need it more than others as a way to stay fit and release excess energy. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise can start to act out.

To do this, you should take your dog out for regular walks, play fetch, and work on training new skills. Besides physical exercise, it’s important to work on mental exercise which can also be done with training and by providing puzzle toys and changing your dog’s toys regularly.

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8. Work on socialization

Introducing your dog to new settings, new people and other pets regularly is crucial for a dog’s development and to help build its confidence. Otherwise, you may end up having a dog that is reactive and barks at every sound it hears or becomes aggressive towards every person or pet it comes across with.

Socializing your dog is also a great form of physical and mental exercise. Switch up the places you take it to and make sure to always praise for calm behavior around strangers and other dogs.

9. Groom your dog

Grooming your dog helps keep its coat clean and healthy, and it’s not only beneficial for long-haired dogs. It can prevent the accumulation of dirt and matting formation in the fur, which makes it less likely for your dog to develop skin allergies and irritations.

But grooming is not only about your dog’s fur. Besides brushing your dog’s coat, you should also trim your dog’s nails and clean its teeth. How often you groom and the tools you use will depend on your dog’s unique characteristics.

10. Follow local rules

A big part of responsible dog ownership is respecting laws such as keeping your dog on a leash, cleaning up after your dog, and planning ahead to check if your dog is able to tag along wherever you’re going.

Dog owners have a big role when educating others and proving that dogs can live amongst humans without jeopardizing anyone or littering. It’s all about being respectful and keeping your community safe and tidy while remembering that not everyone loves dogs and some people can be afraid of them.

Making sense of it all

From feeding to picking up your dog’s poo, being a dog owner comes with many responsibilities. It may take some time to adjust at first but, with time, you’ll get used to it. Dogs can be a handful as they depend on their owners for almost everything. But they’re always worth the trouble!