September is a busy month as Puppy Mill Awareness Day, Pet Birth Defect Awareness Day and Responsible Dog Ownership Day are all this month – on the same day!
People often associate September with the start of school, football season, and Fall and September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month. So while you’re planning your seasonal fun, consider these 7 steps to celebrate your dog and practice your own responsible dog ownership.
Like people, pet friends require exercise. While it’s easy to fall back on the traditional walk around the block, responsible dog ownership requires owners to discover the kind of exercise their dog loves. While some dogs live for their daily walk, others may prefer a faster pace, in which case a run or strenuous hike with elevation changes might be more appropriate. For others, play is key. A rigorous game of fetch or tug-of-war might prove the best exercise for a playful pet who craves attention and stimulation, along with physical activity. Some dogs even like to swim or run agility courses.
To celebrate September is Responsible Dog Ownership month, expose your dog to lots of different types of physical activity and notice which one seems to result in the most energy, joy, and exhaustion. Once you’ve discovered what kind of exercise or dog sport appeals most to your canine, you can celebrate responsible dog ownership all year round by committing to doing the activity on a regular basis.
2. Health and Wellness
Another important responsibility is scheduling and attending regular veterinary check-ups for your dog, seeking appropriate dental care, and providing proper nutrition. Medical needs vary with age, so it’s important to discuss with your veterinarian what your pet needs at any particular stage of life. Most dogs require annual vaccinations, but some veterinarians recommend holding off on certain vaccinations after they reache a particular age.
Your veterinarian can also advise you on any necessary dental care, such as regular cleaning.
Regarding nutrition, you may need to consider several factors, including age, weight, activity level, allergies, etc. Your vet can help you ascertain the proper amount of food for your dog, as well as any special dietary needs your dog may have. Some vets may recommend grain-free diets or special food for dogs prone to gastrointestinal issues.
Celebrate September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month by setting up an appointment with your vet for a regular exam, as well as a discussion of your dog’s vaccinations, dental health, and diet.
Agility is a great way to exercise and bond with your dog.
There are many fun ways to bond with your canine, from enjoying a morning walk to snuggling on the couch. Training is an excellent way not only to make your animal safer, better behaved, and more social, but also to strengthen the bond you share. From Canine Good Citizen to puppy socialization and dog sports, there is sure to be a class or event that you and your dog will enjoy.
Once you’re aware of all of the opportunities available, identify what your pet needs and work from there. If you’re not sure what training would be best, the AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a good starting place.
It’s important to make sure there’s a plan in place for your pet if you need to travel without them. As with training, many options exist, including professional dog sitters who make daily visits to your dog, dog walkers who make sure your dog continues to exercise while you’re away, and boarding kennels where your dog can stay while you travel. Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month by making sure your travel provisions are optimal for your dog’s safety, well-being, and comfort, as well as for your own peace of mind.
Socializing your dog is important at any stage of a dog’s life, from puppy to senior, and can prove a fun and fulfilling way to celebrate responsible dog ownership. Younger dogs and puppies can benefit greatly from early exposure to situations and circumstances that they are likely to encounter in their everyday life, while older dogs may need help coping with the arrival of new pets or children in the home.
Basic socialization can include regular, positive exposure to other dogs of various sizes and ages, exposure to different types of people, visits to dog parks, meet-and-greets on a leash, etc.
A socialized dog may enjoy a safer and more fulfilling existence, since their ability to remain well-mannered in a variety of circumstances can reduce the likelihood of undesirable or dangerous behaviors.
The familiar “safety first” instruction is no less relevant in the context of ownership. A concrete way to engage in responsible ownership is to ensure that your pet thrives in the most secure environment possible. Make sure your yard features adequate fencing and, if your canine spends a lot of time outside, provide clean, fresh, accessible drinking water, as well as shelter from the elements, at all times.
Before heading out for a walk, make sure your dog’s collar, harness, and leash are in good condition. Are all straps sturdy and not frayed? Are all clips in working order? You may also want to make sure your dog’s equipment fits appropriately. Pups can easily slip out of a collar that is too loose, while a collar that is too tight can be uncomfortable and even restrict a dog’s breathing.
Despite these efforts, dogs may sometimes still find ways to get loose. To increase your pup’s probability of returning home safely in the event of an escape, microchip your dog, enroll in AKC Reunite, and outfit your pup with tags displaying their name and your contact information.
7. Emergency Preparedness
Seeing that September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month, this is a great time to recognize it is also National Disaster Preparedness Month. From the recent wildfires in the west to the approach of hurricane season in the east, being prepared to take care of your pets in an emergency is an important part of ownership. Emergency preparations for your pets can include outfitting windows in your home with stickers notifying emergency personnel that an animal is inside, setting aside food, water, and medications for use in an emergency, and preparing a canine first-aid kit and “go-bag” for your pet friend. In advance of an evacuation, identify dog-friendly hotels and create an evacuation plan that includes your dog. To get started, fill out the AKC Reunite Emergency Plan.
The AKC Responsible Dog Owner Pet Promise has worthy attributes that you can aspire to as a responsible dog owner:
FCVC endorses responsible pet ownership as the best way to make you and your pet happy and healthy. Your pet relies on you to give it the love, care and attention they need to thrive. They give back all the love they receive and maybe a little more. We stand ready to give your pets the best care they can get. If you have any questions concerning your pets health and care, we are happy to field those questions – give us a call at 970-587-5140.
Attribution – AKC.org
Photo – adam-griffith-408788-unsplash