Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or you’ve had dogs your whole life, you want the best for your pet, and part of that is being a responsible dog owner throughout your pet’s life. In honor of Responsible Dog Ownership month, we took a moment to speak with Angela Marcus, lifelong animal advocate and founder of GetYourPet.com, about what “being responsible” means.
Responsible dog ownership with Angela Marcus
What does “responsible dog ownership” mean to you?
Being a “responsible” dog owner entails a variety of things. Of course, the basics. Provide your dog with food, water, and shelter. Get them spayed or neutered. Provide them with routine veterinary care and make sure they have a microchip or other means of identification. For a dog to truly flourish, however, they need regular enrichment, ways to keep them engaged and happy, including exercise and quality time spent with their companion(s). To me, truly responsible dog ownership means making room in your life for your dog to be part of your family.
How can new dog owners best set themselves up for success before they adopt and once they bring their pet home?
First, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself: “Is the timing right for me and my family?” and “Am I ready for the expenses of owning a pet?”
Take a little time to think about your lifestyle and how a new dog may affect it.
Be patient. Just like with children, a little patience can go a long way. Don’t rush when you are exploring your options in searching for the right dog to adopt. (You can read my guest blog with 6 Tips for Adopting Your New Best Friend).
Once you’ve decided on the right dog for your home, again, be patient. Allow the dog to adjust to you as you adjust to them.
Newly adopted dogs, regardless of age, typically do very well with an established routine. Dogs older than 1-2 years, however, may need more time to adapt to the new situation and to learn to trust you as their new guardian.
If possible, reduce activity at your house as much as possible initially, and keep a consistent schedule with feeding, walking, and exercise.
What are some of the factors you need to consider in order to be a responsible dog owner?
Adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment, which can mean a decade or more for a puppy. A responsible dog owner thinks and plans ahead for their canine companion. Lifestyle changes such as moving or the birth of children can be hard to predict, but considering what may happen down the road can help you prepare now.
Responsible dog owners know that their dog’s love is priceless, but keeping them happy and healthy is not. The cost of food, veterinary care, spaying or neutering, grooming, and proper identification (a collar with tags and/or a more permanent form of ID, such as micro-chipping) can add up.
Being a responsible dog owner takes time and effort. Most dogs require several hours of exercise and/or time spent with you every day. If you have a job that requires you to travel frequently, or if you’re out of the house most days and evenings, you will have to make arrangements to ensure your dog gets the enrichment he or she needs.
How is Get Your Pet supporting responsible dog ownership and responsible rehoming?
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times – I so wish dogs could talk. Then we would know if they were happy or sad, what they like/dislike, or even what they want. But until that day comes, the next best thing is having their current guardian advocate on their behalf. Get Your Pet’s system of helping dogs go directly from a guardian to an adopter enables guardians to do just that. And no one is going to be a better judge of what kind of new home their pet should go into than their guardian. That’s why we think direct home-to-home adoption is the smartest, most humane, most responsible way to rehome a dog.
Many people will argue that if you have to find a new home for your dog, you couldn’t possibly be a “responsible” dog owner. That is simply not the case. In fact, if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to rehome your dog, the most responsible thing to do is to find them a loving home yourself, instead of surrendering them to an overburdened shelter. And the best place to find people looking to adopt a pet from someone else (as opposed to from a shelter) is getyourpet.com.
Kathryn works at Trupanion alongside her little sidekick, a rescued Papillion mix named Modie. She loves all animals big and small but is a dog enthusiast at heart. By the third grade, she had memorized every dog breed and their characteristics and dreamed of being an agility dog trainer or the next Steve Irwin. When not at Trupanion, Kathryn spends her time playing soccer, baking cookies, and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her little sidekick.