How to Be a Better Pet Owner: Finalist 28

In today’s society about 81% of Americans view their pets as family members according to a survey by Kelton Research. Fifty four percent of Americans consider themselves pet parents rather than pet owners. Our dogs are remarkably similar to children; they are furry adorable souls that require continuous attention. Dogs need love just like children; as well as health care, protection, and exercise.

The life span of our furry companions is less than that of children; therefore providing proper health care is essential to ensure longevity. A yearly visit to your veterinarian for vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and physical exams are a necessity. As a better pet owner you can minimize the stress of veterinary visits by conditioning your pet for the experience. You can familiarize your dog by restraining him for short periods of time immediately followed by a reward as soon as he relaxes. As your dog becomes comfortable with this begin to gradually increase the time of restraint. A similar technique can be used to adapt dogs to having their paws handled; this will lessen the stress of nail trims in the future. Dental care is often over looked and can result in costly dental procedures requiring anesthesia. Frequently brushing your pet’s teeth whether it is daily or weekly can minimize the need for such measures. By familiarizing your dog to such conditions you will help to ensure your pet will remain a part of your family for years to come.

Approximately one million dogs are hit by cars each year according to Gary Bogue of Contra Costal Times; this makes proper and safe confinement a priority. It is important to have a safe enclosed area that your pet cannot escape; this can be a physical or an invisible fence. Dogs just as children need guidelines and barriers to ensure their safety. Obedience classes are a great way to set guidelines and can provide enjoyment for both owner and companion. These classes will help train your dog on basic commands and off leash control. Such classes can help educate the pet parent on the importance of consistency and a routine schedule for their pet. Classes can also aid in socializing your dog; socialization is a determinant of a dog’s lifelong behaviors. It is important to expose puppies to a variety of experiences to aid in their ability to become well-rounded adults. Owners are more likely to take a well behaved dog on adventures thus strengthening the human-animal bond.

Exercise is required to have a happy and well balanced dog. Dogs love to go for walks whether that is around your neighborhood or hiking in the mountains. Dog parks are a good source of exercise and socialization as well as doggy day cares facilities. All dogs need some form of exercise, high energy and working breeds may need more exercise than non-working breeds. For very active dogs consider agility or a similar activity to do with your companion. Age may also play a role in the amount of exercise a dog may require. It is important to do your research on the needs of a particular breed before taking on the responsibility of that pet. It is best to obtain a dog that will fit into your life style; often people make the mistake of taking on an active breed when they are not active individuals.

We love our dogs like they are our children and therefore should do all we can to provide the best life for them. Ensuring their longevity starts with proper health care and minimizing the stress associated with veterinary visits. We must also protect our companions with proper containment and education to maintain their safety. Dogs enjoy accompanying their owners and are much more likely to travel when they are well behaved. Lastly dogs need exercise to maintain a well balanced life. Everyone becomes stir crazy when they can’t get out and run around, so include your companion in your outdoor activities.

A. Sosa-Boehm

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