Owning a dog can be very rewarding - they bring a lot of joy and companionship to an owner's life. However, many new pet owners overlook the responsibility they have towards their animal. The old saying 'A puppy is for life, not just for Christmas' is supposed to highlight the fact that responsible pet ownership is a long-term commitment, yet every year rescue centres take in thousands of dogs after the owner underestimated their own responsibilities.
If you are thinking of getting a dog it's not something to worry about, as there is plenty of help available out there - the Blue Cross website, for example, has a number of detailed factsheets on the different aspects of dog ownership. Here is my guide to some of things you need to think about when it comes to responsible pet ownership:
Dogs are active animals, so you may think that whatever you give them to eat, they will burn off those calories by bounding around the garden. However, dogs need the right vitamins and minerals to maintain their energy levels, otherwise they can drop into a vicious circle of bad eating and lack of exercise -
Dogs need the right vitamins and minerals to maintain their energy levels
which leads to many of the same weight-related problems that humans suffer from.
So look for dog food with high nutritional content; obviously your dog will have some personal preference so start with small samples, then you can go online to specialist retailers such as Pets at Home to buy in bulk and save some money.
Having a dog around on the weekends may seem like great fun, but you need to consider what the animal will do during your working week. Dogs are sociable creatures and do not enjoy being left inside on their own all day - forcing this upon them can lead to anxiety which then manifests itself in difficult and disruptive behaviour. If you work long hours leaving an empty home, you should look into local dog-walking services that can keep your pooch entertained - otherwise your lifestyle may not be suitable for keeping a dog.
In the same way that children are socialised based on the way they are treated by their parents, a dog's behavioural characteristics will develop according to the way in which the owner addresses bad behaviour and reinforces positive actions. There is plenty of literature out there to help you socialise your dog, but it might also be worth looking into obedience courses - they are a short-term cost which will pay off throughout the time you own your dog.
This article was submitted by Clayton Davis.
Joined: Mar 2012
Joined: Feb 2014
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