What a Responsible Pet Owner Should Do
Published on October 3, 2018 by A. Rothstein
Feeding and showing your pet affection is good but to be a responsible pet owner it takes more time and commitment. The American Veterinary Medical Association published a list of qualities that make up a responsible pet owner. The pet owner must be committed, understand the required investment in money and time, make their pet identifiable if they get lost, commit to the pet community to assist with the overpopulation of pets, and prepare for any issues or emergencies with both plans and money.
Commitment to Health
A responsible pet owner will make sure to take their pet to the veterinarian and groomer for regular exams, vaccinations and personal well-being. The responsible pet owner will make sure to allow the pet enough exercise, so they can stay trim and healthy. Preventive health care is also important so that the pet lives a long, happy and healthy life.
A responsible pet owner feeds the pet properly, so they don’t get overweight. Each stage of a pet’s life will have a unique set of nutritional needs to help them grow, stay active or not get over weight during the latter years of their lives. Make sure to understand what you are feeding your pet. It should have healthy ingredients and that the claims on the package are true. Don’t rely too much on treats to show affection to your dog as too many treats can also cause a dog to become overweight.
A responsible pet owner will clean up after their pet. Living in dirty conditions can cause disease and shorten a pet’s life. Most pets can make a mess, so the pet owner should have the time to clean up after them and provide a clean living arrangement.
Commitment to the Pet Community
The number of pets is more than our rescue and shelter organizations can handle. Don’t make an impulsive decision to get a pet and then decide later that you don’t want to take care of it. Commitment to a pet is about having enough time and money to properly take care of the pet. It is also advised that a pet owner spay or neuter the pet to stop over population. Instead of going to a pet store, many shelters and rescue organizations also have great dogs and cats ready for adoption.
Compassionate & Empathetic
A responsible pet owner treats their pet like a parent treats a child. They are compassionate about their health and well-being. The pet owner should want to educate the pet and make sure they are obedient, safe and happy.
A responsible pet owner empathizes with their pet, knows how their pet feels and whether something is wrong. Over time a responsible pet owner can sense how their pet feels and what they need.
Identify the Pet
A responsible pet owner will make sure their pet can be reunited if they get lost. Pets can easily get out of the house or backyard. When they get out in the world they can become scared and hide somewhere out of sight or at someone’s house. Without proper identification, the rescue service may not be able to find the pet owner to reunite the pet. Make sure the pet is either microchipped or has proper tags on their collar. Make sure the microchip registration is up to date with current address and phone number.
Make sure you are not buying a pet spontaneously without thinking about all the personal sacrifices and financial cost of taking care of a pet. Don’t get a dog if you are going to be away from home a large part of the day. Dogs need regular companionship and those that are left alone without any mental stimulation can become disobedience and pick up bad habits. If your dog is inside for a portion of the day, make sure they get out and get exercise. If it is a solo pet, think of dog play dates or taking them to a dog park for socialization. Purchasing a friend for your pet, that they get along with, will also help create mental stimulation and socialization.
Make your pet part of the family. Think of them as a child that you must take care of and educate them on what to and what not to do. A responsible pet owner will spend time with their pet, allowing the pet to have a companion. Many pets have a lot of love to give and need someone to share it with.
Obedience and potty training take a lot of patience. It can take up to 6 months for a puppy to learn obedience training. Some pets may start misbehaving or become uncooperative, so pet owners need to be patient with their pets.
A responsible pet owner will be able to identify when their pet needs emergency assistance. Important pet phone numbers should be on the fridge in case of an emergency or pet illness. Make sure to have the number of your local veterinarian, animal hospital and poison control. Pets tend to get into things that may hurt them so not only child proof your home but be prepared if your pet ingests chemicals or foods that may negatively affect a pet including chocolate. Caffeine can cause a pet’s heart to beat so fast they have a heart attack. Allergies can also cause anaphylactic shock. Being prepared in an emergency situation makes a pet owner responsible.
What a Pet Owner Shouldn’t Do
Being a responsible pet owner means being consistent with rules, socializing the pet, not leaving the pet at home too long, making the home pet friendly, and not punishing the pet. Abiding by these recommendations will make you a responsible pet owner.
Be Inconsistent with the Rules
A pet looks to the owner to understand what is right and wrong. A responsible pet owner will keep the rules consistent, especially if the pet is owned by multiple people. For example, one owner may feed the pet at the dinner table causing the pet to jump on everyone to get more food while they are at the dinner table. Always use the same commands and use positive reinforcement. There are many short phrases a pet owner can use to enforce the rules with their dog. Using leave it, down, sit, off, and no all at the same time can confuse a dog. Make sure to use a specific phrase and give them a treat initially when they successfully obey the rule. The treat will train the pet with positive reinforcement. Yelling at the pet will only cause them to fear the pet owner and may even cause them to act out.
Not Socializing with the Pet
Pets need socialization, especially dogs. Dogs are pack animals and need companionship from humans and/or other dogs, so they get mental stimulation, love and friendship. Many other pets will also enjoy being petted or just spending time next to their owner. If you don’t have enough time to socialize with your pet, the pet owner can get a companion for the pet by getting another like animal that gets along with them and provides friendship.
Leaving a Pet Alone for Too Long
A responsible pet owner won’t leave their pet alone too long. Pets that are by themselves for too long will act out and tend to damage furniture and other objects because they are bored. Pets need mental stimulation, so your favorite pair of shoes may become your pet’s favorite toy. If you have birds, make sure to leave some music on for them so they hear noises that can stimulate their minds.
Home that is not Pet Friendly
Make sure to pet proof your home. Use child latches on low cabinets, keep toxic chemicals away from the pet and make sure to keep them safe from falling objects. If a pet does get into something that is harmful, make sure to have an emergency plan in place and numbers to call for help.
Punishing Your Pet
The worst thing a pet owner can do is punish their pets. If the pet owner yells at the pet, they usually will not associate the yelling with poor behavior. The pet will just start fearing the pet owner and start misbehaving. Never strike or hurt a pet since that is just cruel. If your dog urinates in the wrong spot, don’t shove their face in it. Instead, take the dog outside every 15 minutes to the proper spot and allow them use to the bathroom. Once they use the proper place, praise them for doing a good job and give them a small treat. Do this multiple times and you will have potty trained your dog.
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