Do you have your heart set on getting a pet? Before you make that commitment, learn all that it takes to be a responsible pet owner.
What does a responsible pet owner do? This is something you need to find out before you bring a new animal home.
Otherwise, you might get a pet before you are ready, which could lead to heartbreak. Avoid this disaster by reading this article and learning how to be a good pet owner.
Evaluate Your Ability to Care for a Pet
The first thing you have to realize is that caring for a pet is a long-term commitment. You must ask yourself if you are willing to take on this obligation.
A responsible pet owner also chooses an animal that fits his or her current situation. It would be unfair to expect a large, active dog to adapt to a tiny apartment.
Besides the amount of space you have, you must also consider how much time you have to give. Are you at work all day? Would your pet have any time with you?
Furthermore, you should look at your financial situation. Pets are expensive. Can you make room in your budget for those costs?
Provide Plenty of Exercise
Whether you have a dog or cat, your pet needs exercise. A responsible pet owner makes sure to provide pets with enough physical activity each day.
If you have an active dog, you will need to take your canine on daily, vigorous walks. You should also play games with your pooch, like fetch or agility.
Less active dogs still require exercise in order to stimulate their minds and keep their bodies healthy. Make sure to take at least one walk every day, if not several.
And even cats need some exercise. Entice your feline to get moving by running through the house with a cat wand, or throwing a toy mouse down the hall. Play whichever games your cat likes best.
These various forms of exercise are good for physical health and they break up the day. They will keep your pet from getting bored, which prevents mischief that typically results from boredom.
Make Regular Visits to the Veterinarian
Responsible pet owners work hard to keep their pets healthy. Along with providing adequate care on a daily basis, you should take your animal to see the veterinarian.
Before you can take your pet to see the vet, you have to pick one. Research different clinics in your area and choose a veterinarian you feel can be trusted.
Once you’ve made your decision, gather your pet’s health records so that you can give these to the clinic. You will need to keep track of these papers and all future records.
Don’t forget to bring your pet in for regular check-ups, which will enable your vet to catch possible health concerns before they become major issues.
These regular appointments will also give you the opportunity to ask your veterinarian any questions you have regarding your pet’s specific needs. You can get advice on:
- How much exercise your pet should get;
- The best diet for your pet’s unique needs;
- If you should be concerned about any recent behavior changes;
- And anything else you have questions about.
The American Veterinary Medical Association also points out that when you notice, “declines in your pet(s)' quality of life,” it’s your obligation to consult, “with your veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care.”
Feed a Healthy Diet
If you are a responsible pet owner, you will do your best to give your beloved animal an ideal diet that is nutritionally sound.
The type and amount of food your pet requires depend on your pet’s:
- Activity level
- Current health status
You should seek advice from your vet about what to feed your pet.
Train Your Dog to Behave Well
Responsible dog ownership requires dedicating time for training. This includes obedience training, house training, and socialization.
Why is this important? Because you want your pooch to behave well in public. You also want a dog who can be trusted when interacting with other people and animals.
Turning your dog into a model canine citizen is not an overnight process. It takes time and patience. You might need to get help from a professional dog trainer and fit some training classes into your schedule.
Getting your dog used to other people and animals requires frequent public outings. Some great opportunities to socialize your dog include:
- Taking a trip to the park or beach;
- Walking down a street bustling with activity;
- Taking a hike on a busy trail;
- Going to yappy hour.
Responsible dog ownership does not involve getting your pet into an overwhelming or dangerous situation. Make sure your pooch is ready to handle the activity and environment you want your dog to participate in.
Keep Up with Your Pet’s Grooming Needs
A responsible pet owner doesn’t neglect a pet’s grooming needs. Whether your four-legged friend needs weekly or daily grooming sessions, you must be sure to include this task on your to-do list.
Some coats require regular visits to the groomer, which adds to your pet care expenses. And don’t forget about your pet’s nails. They need to be clipped, either by you or the groomer.
Keep Your Pet Safe
You love your pet and can’t stand the thought of any harm coming to your fur baby. That’s why, as a responsible pet owner, you need to take preventive actions that ensure your pet’s safety.
For starters, pet-proof your home. The American Kennel Club recommends moving, “breakables or ‘chewables’ to higher ground,” and also advises making, “electrical cords inaccessible,” and blocking, “access to any house or garden plants that are toxic.”
Next, make sure your pet can’t escape from your backyard. This might require repairing your fence or setting up a run that gives your pet safe, outdoor access. And whenever you are taking your dog beyond an enclosed area, be sure to keep your canine on a leash.
Although you will do everything necessary to prevent your pet from getting loose, you still need to prepare for that possibility. By making the proper preparations, you can increase the odds of your pet returning home.
These preparations include:
- Putting ID tags on your pet’s collar;
- Keeping your pet’s registration information updated.
Responsible pet ownership requires extra care and consideration. But if you want to own a pet, you shouldn’t expect anything less from yourself.
Now that you know how to be a good pet owner, you can keep your pet and others safe, while also keeping your furry friend happy and content.
Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership. (n.d.). From American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/policies/guidelines-responsible-pet-ownership
Responsible pet ownership. (n.d.). From American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/responsible-pet-ownership
Staff, A. (2018, September 07). 75 Ways to Be a Responsible Dog Owner. From American Kennel Club: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/responsible-dog-owner/
Walden, L. (n.d.). What does Responsible Pet Owner mean? From Pet Secure: https://www.petsecure.com.au/pet-care/takes-responsible-pet-owner/
Kristina Tyler is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in pet care topics. With her life-long love of animals and passion for learning, she thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about how to care for pets. In her spare time, she teaches Sunday School classes, creates hand drawn pictures of animals, and devours the latest books by her favorite authors. She lives in California with her adorable kitty named Chloe and attends classes at the local community college.