Bob and Theresa Jones aren’t just your regular neighbors. They’re responsible dog owners! What distinguishes them as such, you may ask?
- Bob and Theresa obtain their pets from ethically sound places – they research to determine what a responsible breeder is or find a good shelter or rescue. They do not support back yard breeders or puppy mills with their puppy purchasing dollars.
- Bob and Theresa put as much thought into selecting the right dog as they would in any other decision which will effect their life for decades. They don’t select a dog based on appearances but think carefully about how the dog will fit into their lifestyle.
- Bob and Theresa spay and neuter their pets. They would rather bypass the significant added responsibility that comes with owning an intact dog. They dont want to contribute to the pet overpopulation problem.
- Bob and Theresa provide everything needed for their dog’s well-being: a high quality diet, good veterinary care, physical exercise, mental stimulation, training and play, and a safe environment.
- Bob and Theresa are cognizant of their own dog’s health and the health of other dogs and people. They do not bring puppies which are not yet fully vaccinated to the dog park. When their dogs have fleas or any sort of contagious illness, they skip play group until their dogs are well again.
- Bob and Theresa think that pets deserve to be a part of the family. They allow their pets to live in the house with and do not relegate their dogs to “lawn ornament” status by forcing them to live on a chain or outside, exposed to the elements.
- Bob and Theresa make sure their pets have proper identification – name tags, microchips, tattoos, etc.
- Bob and Theresa clean up after their dogs. They also go above and beyond to make things better for the entire dog owning community by carrying spare poop bags and cleaning up stray piles they come across on walks. Yes, it’s gross. No, it’s not their dogs’ mess. They consider it community service, and they’re right, it is!
- Bob and Theresa learn about dogs – how they learn, and how they communicate. They know that through their body language, dogs are talking to us all the time. We just need to learn how to “listen” with our eyes.
- Bob and Theresa are helpful to other dog owners. They are happy to recommend a good trainer, veterinarian, groomer, training book, video, article, or blog to a friend needing a little guidance for help with a pet problem.
- Bob and Theresa protect their pets. One of their dogs, Buffy the Squirrel Slayer, is the world’s cutest dog. She’s also one of the world’s most fearful. Bob and Theresa let Buffy know she doesn’t need to use her teeth to protect herself, they will protect her by telling people, “no, you cannot pet my dog!” when she obviously would prefer they didn’t.
- Bob and Theresa realize that protecting their dog’s is not rude, it’s their duty. Bob and Theresa are empathetic and realize how difficult it must be for Buffy to live in such a constant state of fear. They research the available options and hire a behavior consultant with the experience and education needed to help them help Buffy find her confidence. They do not rely on reality television as a “how to” to remedy serious behavior problems.
- Bob and Theresa follow the law. One of their dogs is a service dog who helps with Bob’s PTSD. Their service dog Marley is exceptionally well-trained but is still always leashed in areas where leashing is legally required.
- Bob and Theresa love to travel. For as much as they love travel, they never try to “sneak” dogs in where dogs are unwelcome (hotels, public transportation, etc.) because they realize that doing so substantially decreases the likelihood of these businesses ever becoming truly “pet friendly.” When they do travel with their dogs, the dogs are safely secured in the vehicle using secured crates are harnesses. They never allow the dogs to ride in the open truck bed, climb all over the driver, or hang almost completely out the window.
- Bob and Theresa are honest about their dogs’ current level of training. They really want Buffy to be able to play off leash, but know that her recall is not strong and if someone were to rush up on her off leash, she may bite. Therefore, Buffy is only allowed off leash in securely fenced environments where interactions with the things which scare her can be controlled. They also know that resident mastiff mix Guido has a tendency to knock people over when they come in the house. Until his manners have improved, Guido is crated when Grandma (who weighs 30 lbs less than Guido and is recovering from hip surgery) arrives at the house.
- Bob and Theresa do not bring more animals into their home than they can care well for.
- Bob and Theresa set their pets up for success. They doggy proof the house and yard as opposed to leaving delicate, breakable, or dangerous things in doggy reach and then punishing the dog for getting into those things. Guido likes to chew on shoes, so the shoes are kept in a room where he cannot access them. Marley likes to hang out in the garage while Bob works on the car, so the antifreeze and other toxic products are kept in a locked closet or on top of the tall shelving unit.
- Bob and Theresa are politically active on all matters, including those which relate to companion animals. They vote. They write letters opposing Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), puppy mills, and push for harder sentences for those who abuse animals.
- Bob and Theresa have always taken their puppies to puppy class, because they know that socializing a dog well is the number one way we can prevent dog bites.
- Bob and Theresa do not leave their dogs outside unsupervised.
- Bob and Theresa realize that dogs don’t live forever. They know a day will come when they may have to make a very difficult decision to release their dog from significant pain. They’re prepared to make a decision which will end their dog’s pain, at the expense of their own broken hearts. When that day comes, they will stay with their dog until he breathes his last breath, knowing that it is the last gift they’ll be able to give him.
Responsible dog ownership is about more than the people and dogs living in your home. It’s about setting an example for other dog owners and realizing how your actions as a pet owner effect the community at large and the pet owning community specifically. Are you keeping up with the Joneses?
What do you think are the characteristics of a responsible dog owner? Please share in the comments!