Two dogs standing side-by-side, with the smaller one looking up to the larger one

Are You a Responsible Dog Owner?

Don’t Let Your Dog Down

You aren’t a dog owner just at Christmas, or on the weekends, or in the afternoon, or when you have spare time. You aren’t a dog owner just when the dog is behaving, or when he’s a cute fuzzy puppy, or when he’s winning awards. When you bring a dog into your family, that dog is yours for life. If you can’t keep that commitment, don’t make it. And once you’ve made it, don’t break it. Your dog’s life depends on you.

Tips for Responsible Dog Owners
The American Kennel Club

That one paragraph from a 45-page ebook published by The American Kennel Club (AKC) captures what we at Brownsburg Animal Clinic see as the essence of responsible dog ownership. 

It’s all about commitment. For life. 

The AKC has designated September as Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Their “Tips for Responsible Dog Owners” ebook provides an overview of multiple aspects of being a responsible dog owner, beginning well before you bring the dog you’ve chosen into your household.

We’re guessing if you’re following our blog, it’s likely you’re a client of ours who already owns one or more dogs—maybe even some cats, too. 

The question is, are you a responsible dog owner? 

If you go by the AKC’s ebook, you’ll see responsible dog ownership is…complicated. In addition to all the basics of owning any dog, the AKC includes a number of activities specific to the world of purebred dogs. 

We believe responsible dog ownership is somewhat simpler than the AKC might have you believe—especially if you have no plans to train and show a purebred dog competitively. 

In our opinion, the essential elements of responsible dog ownership include—

  • Good nutrition to keep your dog’s body weight under control, with a constant supply of fresh, clean water
  • Safety at home, in your yard, your car, and away from home, with a microchip and an ID tag to help your pet get back home if he or she gets lost
  • Creature comforts—a crate, a dog bed, toys, treats
  • Regular grooming to keep your dog’s coat, nails and ears in good condition 
  • Daily tooth-brushing to prevent gum disease and tooth decay
  • Daily exercise appropriate to your dog’s age and physical condition
  • Social interaction and mental stimulation from playing games together, taking walks, training and socializing
  • Observance of all animal-related ordinances and the common courtesy to clean up after your dog and control barking, roaming the neighborhood and other behaviors that might disturb other people
  • Helping manage pet overpopulation by spaying or neutering any pet not intended as breeding stock
  • Including your pet in family emergency plans and arranging in advance for pet care, should you be unable to care for your pet yourself
  • Ongoing veterinary care on schedule, as we recommend it, including wellness exams, vaccines, regular parasite preventives and prompt attention to any health problems that occur
  • Love

Advice from the AVMA

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists “Guidelines for responsible pet ownership” including advice for responsibly owning all sorts of indoor and outdoor pets. 

The list shares much in common with the AKC’s, with one additional aspect of responsible pet ownership we find worth calling out.

A common complaint we hear at the clinic comes from owners of multiple pets who say our prices are prohibitive “for three dogs” or “for five cats.” Or more. 

Among its guidelines, the AVMA includes, “Keeping only the type and number of pets for which you can provide an appropriate and safe environment. This includes appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.” 

We greatly appreciate clients willing to provide loving homes to multiple pets, but the total costs of keeping just one pet can be substantial. See our post, “The Costs of Owning a Pet,” and do the math. 

When your heart goes out to every animal in need of a home, it’s easy to forget: For every pet you add to your household, your financial responsibilities increase. Despite your love of animals and the large number of homeless pets right here in our community, if you struggle to afford feeding and caring for your pets, part of being a responsible pet owner requires you to set limits. 

Don’t take in any more pets than you can afford to care for comfortably.

See the AVMA’s entire list of guidelines to look for more opportunities to become an even better, more responsible pet owner.

Owning a pet is a privilege that brings us great rewards. Because our pets can’t speak for themselves, we each take on a responsibility as owners to advocate for them and provide the support and resources they need to live healthy, happy lives.

Pet Ownership
The American Veterinary Medical Association

Another article from the AVMA, “Pet ownership” offers additional thoughts on the responsibilities of pet ownership in a somewhat more readable format than their guidelines list. 

More Resources from the AKC Owner’s Manual Series

Tips for Responsible Dog Owners” is just one in a series of free ebooks published as part of an “Owner’s Manual Series” by the AKC. 

As you consider your role as a responsible dog (or pet) owner—not just during Responsible Pet Ownership Month but year-round, we encourage you to browse the following titles from the AKC and download any of interest. Most are no more than 14 to 18 pages long with very readable text, beautiful photographs and lots of white space. 

Bear in mind the American Kennel Club is dedicated to supporting and promoting purebred dogs. Most if not all the information in the ebooks we’ve selected applies just as well to mixed-breed dogs as purebreds and will almost certainly help you in fulfilling your responsibilities as a dog owner.

Emergency First Aid for Dogs

Puppy Pointers: Tips for Selecting a Canine Companion

Puppy Food & Nutrition

Crate Training

Puppy Socialization

Life with a Senior Canine Citizen

Canine Body Language: Your Dog is Trying to Tell You Something

Why Does My Dog Do That?

What’s He Thinking? The reasons behind your dog’s most interesting habits

The Five Commands Every Dog Should Know

Five Tricks You’ll Want To Show Off

Let Us Help!

No list of guidelines for responsible pet ownership is complete without veterinary care.

The veterinarians and staff of Brownsburg Animal Clinic consider it an honor and a privilege to help you fulfill your responsibilities to your pet. Call us at (317) 852-3323 to see when your pet’s next check-up and/or vaccines are due.