by Ms Dany Canino
According to Webster´s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, the word responsible is defined as follows: "...involving accountability, obligation, or duties."
I feel that the definition of being a responsible dog owner can be defined with those same words.
Test yourself to see how you respond to the following questions:
1) DO YOU WATCH YOUR DOG´S DIET AS CLOSELY AS YOU AVOW TO WATCH YOURS?
Far too many dog owners over feed their pets. They feed their animals a diet that is way too high in protein for the pet´s activity level. They even continue to feed this high source of protein to their pets that are considered to be senior citizens. When a dog gets to be seven years or older their pancreas slows down in its functional duties, just as their physical activity slows down. Therefore, we need to lower the protein level so that they can completely digest and utilize their food.
Many pet owners have not yet learned to read the dog food labels of the food they feed. Some dog foods that are on the market contain excessive amounts of salt (sodium) and sugar (dextrose or sucrose). Just as these ingredients in excess aren´t good for humans, they also are not good for your dog.
If your dog is overweight there are two things to consider as the cause:
If you´re feeding your dog a proper diet in proper amounts for his activity level, your pet may have a thyroid problem. This is a common malady in dogs and can easily be detected by a simple blood test done by your veterinarian.
If you are guilty of feeding your pet more food than he can actively burn off, all you need to do is simply cut back on the amount you feed. Cut back on the cookie snacks or rawhide bones you give your pet. Your dog will appreciate it in the long run because an overweight dog is just a heart attack waiting to happen.
2) DO YOU KEEP YOUR DOG WELL GROOMED?
Pets don´t like to be dirty any more than you do. Getting a bath on a regular basis makes your pet feel good. A bath not only makes them smell good, it prevents them from scratching because of the dirt on their body (possibly causing a "hot spot"). Plus, bathing allows them the luxury of a massage.
It also feels good to your pet to be brushed about twice a week. A coated breed that is not brushed will frequently end up with matts (tangles) in their coat. This cannot only be painful, but in time it can be life threatening. Matts can literally cut off the pet´s circulation. Close-coated breeds also need to be brushed frequently, but you should use a good rubber brush because of their lack of hair.
Nail trimming is very important to the well being of your pet. If your pet doesn´t get his nails trimmed regularly he can end up totally crippled. If you´re afraid to do this duty (once or twice a month) then take your pet to a local groomer. There is usually a very nominal fee for this procedure. Of course the ideal would be to learn how to do it your self.
Teeth cleaning is another simple procedure that any pet owner can learn to do. Dogs can have some of the same teeth and gum problems that afflict humans. Most pet supply stores sell products to help you keep your pet´s teeth and gums in healthy condition.
3) HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE BENEFITS OF SPAYING OR NEUTERING?
It´s a known medical fact that these simple medical procedures will add additional years to your pet´s life. Most of the sexual organ cancers that affects dogs can be eradicated if your pet is rendered sterile at an early age (5 months to 1 year).
4) IS YOUR DOG RELEGATED TO LIVE HIS LIFE IN THE BACKYARD ONLY?
Dogs are basically pack animals. When we bring them into our homes and lives as family pets, in their eyes we become their pack. To make them stay in the backyard solely makes them feel that the pack has deserted or abandoned them. A dog´s natural instinct is to protect his pack members and their den. If they only know the backyard, then that´s the area they will feel they need to protect. They will be of little or no use for protection of your home. Personally I´ve never understood why people get a dog as a companion and then stick him in the backyard on a permanent basis.
5) HAVE YOU BOTHERED TO TRAIN YOUR DOG SO THAT HE KNOWS WHAT GOOD BEHAVIOR IS?
Pet owners that haven´t taken the time to properly train their dogs are oftentimes the same people that get rid of the dog because he becomes a nuisance and unmanageable. They neglect to see that it is their fault that their pet is this way. If they do decide to train they are sure that they need to wait until the dog is over 6 months of age. By doing this they have many more behavior problems to work out than they would have, had they started the pup at 4 months of age.
Obedience training your dog is the most efficient way to rectify any behavior problems and to deter any future behavior problems. Training a dog is also an excellent way to build a lasting bond with your dog.
6) DO YOU ALLOW YOUR PET TO RUN LOOSE OFF YOUR PROPERTY?
Besides being illegal to let your pet be off leash when away from your property, it is the fastest way for some moving vehicle to put permanent "tire tracks" on your dog´s body and, sometimes ending his "freedom" permanently.
If you´ve answered Yes to questions 4 and 6 and answered No to questions 1-2-3 and 5, you need to sit down and re-evaluate why you got a dog in the first place. You also need to admit that up to now you haven´t been the most responsible pet owner. It´s not too late to change. You can still become that responsible owner that I know you want to be.
For the most part our pets love us unconditionally. Whether we gain weight, whether we´re in a good or bad mood, whether we´re a little late feeding them, or are too busy from time to time to throw the ball for them. They love us no matter what. Theirs is truly the purest form of devotion. In return, our pets ask very little of us. All they are looking for is our affection and some basic responsibilities on our part that make their life painless and comfortable. When the pet´s owner meets these responsibilities, it shows your pet that you really care.