Responsible Dog Ownership Month

September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month and to help support it, I wanted to share some insight into dog ownership. Having a dog isn’t what you might think. So many people think it’s a piece of cake and although there are SO many benefits to being a dog owner, it isn’t always a walk in the park (pun intended).

I had a dog growing up and helped with simple tasks such as filling her food and water dish and occasionally walking her. But it wasn’t until about 2 and a half years ago when I adopted my pup Sheba (on a whim), that I learned what responsible dog ownership really was.

Time Commitment – This is probably THE most important aspect of responsible dog ownership. Not only do you need to make sure your dog is walked/let out to go to the bathroom at least twice a day, but you also need to make sure that you spend quality time with them.

Finances – Also a big one. You already know that you’ll need to buy food (you’ll want to spend a little more on the healthy/”good” stuff), treats and toys, as well as pay for vet check ups for your dog. But it’s the unexpected finances you need to have on your radar as well. Medical issues can arise, accidents can happen, and vet bills are ALWAYS expensive. Make sure to set aside some money for these things, even if it’s part of your own “emergency fund.”

Provide Shelter – If you’re going to adopt a dog, make sure you have adequate space you can provide inside your home. Keeping a dog chained up in the backyard all day is no way for it to live. Be mindful of that!

Socialize Your Dog – It’s important to make sure your dog gets introduced to other dogs, humans, and locations so they’re not extremely anxious or distressed if they find themselves in an unfamiliar situation.

Groom Your Dog – I’m not saying bring your dog to the groomer or give him/her a bath every day, but every once in a while make sure you’re cleaning them up and also ensuring that things like fleas and ticks aren’t present.

Train Your Dog – Training can be difficult (especially if you adopt an adult dog), but it’s important to teach them proper behavior, especially when in social situations.

Walks – This was mentioned above, but also helps keep YOU (the owner) active.

ID Your Dog – This is SO important! Most shelters will microchip their dogs before adoption (one less thing for you to do), but an alarming number of dogs don’t make it back to their owners because there’s no way to tell where they came from. God forbid your dog runs away and/or gets lost, they’ll have a way to get back to you if someone finds them.

Spoil/Love/Dote on Your Pup – Although our pups have their crazy moments, they’re very dependent on us humans and love us with all their being. It’s only right for you to show them the love back. After all, who else is going to be the same amount of excited as your dog when you walk through the door!? No one!

Above all, make a commitment. It certainly is no easy feat being a pet owner, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do (if it’s done right). I wasn’t 100% prepared when I adopted Sheba and definitely didn’t know the full extent of what I was getting myself into. But I was up for the challenge and it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made!