What is Responsible Pet Ownership?

Throughout the years as a veterinary technician and animal hospital manager, I have seen many people adopt or purchase a dog whom have no business doing so. In situations where the pet owner(s) is away for several hours during the day (ESPECIALLY with a young puppy) this is not effective for house training and may cause separation anxiety which results in excessive barking, crying, chewing, and other behavior problems. Many times, the pet owner ends up giving the dog away, having it put to sleep, or bringing him or her to a shelter. Some more evil-minded people even shoot it, just “let it go” in a field, or simply lock it out of the house. I am not joking; this is an unfortunate on-going occurrence.

Another common situation is when a couple gets a puppy or dog together. Suddenly, the wife becomes pregnant and the couple decides they need to “get rid of the dog.” DOGS ARE NOT DISPOSABLE like yesterday’s garbage! I consider that a poor excuse for “getting rid of a pet” and also extremely irresponsible. This is something to consider when getting a puppy or dog together as a couple. What may your future hold? Will you possibly have children? Will either of you take the time to train and spend time with the dog after a child comes into the picture? Is the dog a breed that is considered to be “kid-friendly”? Why do you want a dog in the first place? Is it for the right reasons? Can you afford him or her even beyond routine shots and exams in case of an emergency situation? Can you afford to get him or her spayed/neutered?

Which Breed is Best Suited for You?

A responsible pet owner will research a breed of dog they desire if a pure breed is wanted. For example, a Chow Chow or Shar-Pei is not recommended for those with small children due to those breeds being originally bred to fight bears. All breeds will still carry a certain amount of their natural instincts, hence, to fight, protect, herd, guard, or work. (Any dog can become aggressive; especially un-neutered males. Many are aware of the unfortunate negative label Pitbulls have been given due to the low-life’s that “train” them to fight. They are actually very friendly and make wonderful “family friendly” dogs.) Most dog breeds have their common ailments. A few more examples: Dalmatians tend to be very hyper active, difficult to train, and they carry the hereditary gene of deafness. Boxers tend to be prone to cancer. Shar Pei’s tend to have chronic skin problems. Pugs and other dogs with a flattened nose often suffer from respiratory troubles. Some smaller breeds such as Pomeranians, Miniature Poodles, Chihuahua’s, and Miniature Pinschers tend to be “one-person” dogs that may become aggressive toward anyone that comes near or touches their main “human” companion. Some breeds such as Australian Shepherds and Border Collie’s need to have an ample amount of exercise, a constant need to feel useful, and are very eager to learn new things due to their high level of intelligence…meaning they require a lot of attention. Some breed like Puli’s, Samoyed’s, Poodle’s, Lhaso-Apso’s, Yorkshire Terriers, and many more require professional grooming or regular home grooming on a constant basis. These are just a few examples and not with any intent to single out a specific breed. Also, if you have one of the breeds I mentioned or are considering one, this doesn’t mean these are not “good” or “bad” breeds. Most breeds come with their own commonly, specific problems…just as we humans do!

Indoor or Outdoor Dog?

Dogs are natural pack animals, which means they desire to live life with their pack members. They consider their human family their “pack” and being isolated from them is a huge stress factor brought into their lives. When a dog is allowed to live inside the home (especially after a significant amount of time such as only even a few months) then are suddenly placed outside to live, this is a major cause of stress. The dog will feel rejected from the “pack” and become depressed, anxious, lonely, and probably develop behavior problems. Weather is another important factor. Extreme heat or cold can be very dangerous, even when shelter, food, and water are provided.

The bottom line is this: If you (and/or your spouse/family) not only research the breed of dog, all agree on his or her upbringing and decide who is responsible for what tasks regarding walking, feeding, etc., and have the TIME to contribute to giving the dog enough attention THROUGHOUT it’s life, have and expect the monetary responsibility involved, and are willing to share 7 to possibly 16 years with him or her then, by all means, get a dog.

The Many Jobs Pets Perform

Studies have shown that interactions with dogs and cats will actually lower a human’s blood pressure, help heal humans emotionally and physically, and uplift the general mood. It also aids in teaching bonding and responsibility to children. It is also proven to uplift the emotional/physical states of the elderly in nursing homes and people in long-care term facilities.
Dogs give humans so much. For all they do for us, be it hunting/retrieving our food, protecting us and our property, herding our livestock, warning us of danger, sniffing out drugs or bombs, scanning people for cancer and/or other medical ailments, being a human companions’ eyes or ears, risking their lives as trained K-9 Police or military officers, and/or just as a friend and companion, they deserve the best care and consideration that can and should be provided. It is the least amount of any repayment we can give them for the awesome impact they have upon our lives.

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