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Responsible Dog Ownership Month: When Is It & How to Celebrate?

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on June 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

owner cuddling and hugging her pet pomeranian dog

Responsible Dog Ownership Month: When Is It & How to Celebrate?


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Being a responsible pet owner is incredibly important, especially considering there are so many homeless pets in the United States alone. Responsible Dog Ownership Month is an initiative started by the American Kennel Club in 2003 to encourage already fantastic dog owners and educate others on how to look after their wonderful canine companion. Responsible Dog Ownership Month takes place during the entire month of September. Let’s learn more about Responsible Dog Ownership Month and how you can celebrate it!

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What and When Is Responsible Dog Ownership Month?

The American Kennel Club designated Responsible Dog Ownership Month to enhance the overall care of canines. It is an entire month dedicated to our loyal companions’ wellbeing.

Responsible Dog Ownership Month is in September, but there is a designated Responsible Dog Ownership Day, which takes place on the third Saturday of the month if you don’t want to celebrate the entire month or are hosting an event and want to shave it down to a single 24-hour period.

So if you want to mark them on your calendar, they are:
  • 21 September 2024
  • 20 September 2025
  • 19 September 2026

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How to Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month

If you’re wondering how you can celebrate this month, you can start by taking all of these things into consideration before becoming a dog owner. Keep in mind that there is never a time to stop learning when you own pets.

1. Keep Up With Vet Care

If your dog hasn’t been to the vet lately, Responsible Dog Ownership Month is a great time to schedule an appointment. Vet care is an absolutely crucial part of pet ownership and can significantly extend your pet’s lifespan and improve their quality of life. Not only will your vet need to determine that your pet is in good health, but they will also need to administer preventative measures such as routine vaccinations and parasite prevention.

So your pet doesn’t become part of the problem, your vet will also recommend that you spay or neuter your dog. If possible, your vet should become your canine buddy. The more comfortable your dog is with your vet, the better these visits will go for you.

You need to make sure that you are able to keep up with annual appointments and do your part as a responsible owner to keep up with protecting other animals around you.

dog owner talking to vet
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

2. Get Your Dog Spayed/Neutered

Overpopulation is a huge problem across the United States and the entire world. While efforts are put in place to control backyard breeding and accidental pregnancies, accidents do happen. Consider spaying or neutering your dog during Responsible Dog Ownership Month if you haven’t already. There are also some huge health benefits to spaying and neutering, so it is worth discussing this with your vet.

3. Evaluate Your Environment

It is your job to protect your dog the same way you would protect a child. When you bring a dog into your home, it is up to you to make sure their environment is safe. Dogs don’t always know what is best for them, and there are many dangers that can be found in the home.

If you don’t ensure your dog’s safety, they could get into a number of problematic situations that can lead to injury or even death. This could be something as small as making sure that they have age-appropriate toys that will not break down or break into small pieces or that they cannot access dangerous chemicals.

It is also something as serious as making sure your dog is always restrained so that they are not attacked or hit by a car. Take a look at your home and evaluate your dog’s environment during Responsible Dog Ownership Month to make sure that it is a safe and secure space for your dog to live in.

a sick vizsla dog lying on a dog bed at home
Image Credit: Edgar Feliz, Shutterstock

4. Microchip Your Pet

Microchipping is a very effective way to identify your pet, so if your dog hasn’t been microchipped yet, why not do so during Responsible Dog Ownership Month? Sometimes our dogs can escape or run away, and microchipping can help to identify them and bring them home. Collars can come off, but a microchip will stay in place. Microchipping is responsible for many reunions.

A study in 2008 revealed that out of all microchipped animal shelters encountered, 72.7% of owners were located. Out of these owners, 73.9% of owners reclaimed their pets. So, they are certainly worthwhile.

5. Consider Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is an important layer of protection put in place to ensure our pets get the vet treatment they require. Emergencies can take place, and it can mean life or death for our pets. Accidents and illnesses can be expensive to treat, so it’s good to have the peace of mind of knowing that your pet is insured.

There are many different pet insurance companies offering different levels of coverage to suit all pets and budgets. Responsible Dog Ownership Month is a great time to sit down and make sure your best friend has the best cover you can afford.

Image Credit: Drazen Zigic, Shutterstock

dogster paw dividerHow to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

Responsible Dog Ownership Month is a good time to adopt a dog, and there are millions of dogs in animal shelters and rescue organizations that are desperate to find their forever home. If you’re considering getting a dog during the month of September (or any other month), here are some things that go along with responsible dog ownership to keep in mind.

1. Choose Shelter Dogs First and Commit to Dog Ownership

man giving treat to the dog in the shelter
Image Credit: MAD.vertise, Shutterstock

On average, over 7 million animals end up in rescues and shelters every year, and many of these pets are put to sleep. Sometimes, dogs end up in a shelter because their owner is no longer able to look after them due to a change in health or financial circumstances. Other times, dogs have been adopted into homes that were not prepared for the training and commitment needed when looking after a pet. Unplanned liters are another reason that dogs end up in shelters, which is why we emphasized the importance of spaying and neutering.

When deciding to adopt a dog, it is important that you learn all there is to know about the health, exercise requirements, and temperament of the dog, and make sure that you are able to commit to their needs, for the lifetime of the dog.

2. Have a Suitable Number of Pets

If you already have pets and are considering adding a new dog to your family, really think about what you’re taking on and if you can reasonably care for another pet. Sometimes, animal lovers want to scoop up every last animal and keep them safe.

Unfortunately, everybody has a maximum capacity. This will depend on your time and resources, dictating your ability to care for a certain number of pets. If you get too many, you will likely start neglecting certain aspects of care, which could affect their overall quality of life.

If you want to do more but can’t take on the full commitment of owning another animal right now, consider fostering, volunteering, or donating to your local rescue or shelter.

3. Buy a Fitting Breed

female owner playing with her cavalier king charles spaniel dog at the park
Image Credit: Sabelnikova Olga, Shutterstock

Some people buy a breed without the proper expectation. For example, a sedentary person might see a dog like a German Shepherd and want to bring it home. However, this dog will have such a high activity requirement that they are unable to care for them.

Similarly, you might want to have an emotionally intuitive dog or an incredibly affectionate dog. Instead, you select a more aloof breed, such as the Basset Hound or Irish Wolfhound.

Many people buy dogs hoping there will be something else and get disappointed when they don’t match. You should always do a lot of research, even if your dog is a mixed breed. You can tell a lot by researching possible parent breeds, as it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint.

4. Listen to Your Dog

It is important to understand your dog’s body language and overall demeanor. The more you get to know their individual characteristics, the better you can relate to them. It can be sometimes challenging to deal with certain types of personalities. No matter what situation you’re in, it is imperative to truly try to understand your dog’s perspective so that the two of you have a better relationship.

5. Get Training Right

Dog Clicker Training
Image Credit: elounix, Shutterstock

Training helps you and your dog communicate better and helps create a bond. Attending puppy classes, learning about training techniques, or even enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer can make or break a doggy relationship. Training should start from Day 1 and be a positive experience for you and your pet.

6. Ensure Proper Socialization

Socialization is crucial for any dog. A responsible owner will make sure that their dog has appropriate socialization with people, other dogs, and the outside world, and it is never too early to expose them to a wide variety of settings, permitting you keep them safe.

When they are 8 weeks old, they are too young to run around outside as it leaves them susceptible to diseases like parvovirus. However, once they are fully vaccinated, they are ready to take on the world.

You should always expose them to all sorts of creatures, great and small. The more desensitized they become to various things they encounter in their environment, the more well-rounded they will likely be.

7. Give Adequate Exercise

Young dogo argentino running on meadow
Image Credit: Budimir Jevtic, Shutterstock

Adequate exercise is a routine part of any dog’s day. Different breeds require a different set of exercise needs, so keep in mind that things will be different from dog to dog. For example, you have less active breeds, such as the English Bulldog, and more active breeds, such as the German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever. Make sure you can meet the dog’s exercise needs before you commit to ownership.

It’s also important to remember that exercise doesn’t always have to be strenuous. Taking your dog to a new place to explore or meet people or providing them with toys and puzzles are all part of enrichment, which can be just as important as cardio for dogs.

8. Don’t Let Your Dog Become a Menace

There is no such thing as a bad dog, but there are definitely poorly trained and poorly controlled ones. If your dog is creating a ruckus or destroying your neighbor’s property, you might have a problem quickly. Within city or town limits, it is often a requirement that a dog be leashed and kept away from other people and pets.

If you are letting your dog run rampant, and they kill livestock, attack other people’s pets, or simply dig up someone’s flowers, you could have a lot of angry neighbors around you, not to mention some trouble with the law. This might even result in the dog being removed from your home.

Your pet is under your care, but accidents happen. As a pet owner, you have to expect the unexpected but also do whatever you can to prevent accidents from happening. You should be ready for just about anything. Most pet insurance should include public liability cover to protect you financially if your pet causes damage to property, pets, or people.

9. Hold Proper Licensure

happy young woman cuddling australian shepherd dog while sitting on couch
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Your dogs should always be vaccinated against rabies and have a tag to prove it. They should always have their identification on as well. If you live in any kind of apartment complex, you might need to get proper permission to have a pet.

Certain zones require that you have appropriate licensure. Always check with your area laws.

10. Adhere to Breed Restrictions

Rightly or wrongly, certain breeds are classified as dangerous, and as such, there are laws and restrictions regarding the ownership of these dogs in different parts of the country. Before you take on any dog, make sure you do your homework in case the breed you have your heart set on is on the restricted list.

11. Love Your Dog

Happy Handsome Young Man Play with His Dog at Home, Gorgeous Golden Retriever. Attractive Man Sitting on a Floor Teasing, Petting and Scratching a Playful Dog, Have Fun in the Stylish Apartment.
Image Credit: Gorodenkoff, Shutterstock

There is no love more unconditional than that of a dog – they will love you with all their heart, and you will be their whole world. When you welcome a dog into your life, you need to be prepared to give them all the care and love they need, which might sound easy enough, but it is a big responsibility. Their life, health, happiness, and safety are up to us, and a commitment that can last more than fourteen years.

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Responsible Dog Ownership Month is a great time to make sure we are providing everything our pet needs to live their best life and lend a helping hand to our fellow dog owners to make sure they are doing the same.

Our dogs give us so much and ask for so little. So this September, take time to celebrate everything your dogs do for us and make sure we are doing everything right by them. Of course, there’s no reason you can’t celebrate responsible dog ownership every month!

Featured Image Credit: Alina Kruk, Shutterstock

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