5 Things Responsible Dog Owners Do


Photo by J. Nichole Smith | www.mylittleandlarge.com

September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Do you fit the bill of a responsible dog owner? Here are five ways you can spot a responsible dog owner.

#1: They keep their dog out of harm's way. 

Accidents can happen to even the most attentive and caring pet owners, but a responsible dog owner doesn't leave their dog unattended in a car on a hot day (or any day, preferably!), doesn't leave them alone outside for long hours without mental or physical stimulation, and protects them from potential dangerous situations.

#2: They use humane, force-free training methods.

A responsible dog owner doesn't rely on quick-fix training methods that involve pain, intimidation, or instilling fear in your dog. A relationship based on mutual trust and respect is formed on a foundation of force-free training methods, rather than on ineffective and inhumane tools like shock collars or electric fences.

#3: They make time for their dog. 

A tired dog is a happy dog. On the other hand, a bored and unstimulated dog can become destructive, anxious, or even aggressive. A responsible pet owner makes time every day to provide some sort of stimulation for their dog, whether it be with interactive toys and games, going for a walk, or a doggie playdate with friends.

#4: They keep up with veterinary care and preventatives. 

A big part of responsible dog ownership is keeping up with your dog's healthcare needs. While you may choose to use titer testing in place of annual vaccines, a responsible dog owner is actively aware of their dog's vaccination history and what they may need in the future. They also keep their dog up-to-date on monthly heartworm preventatives, as well as flea and tick preventatives, if needed.

#5: They don't contribute to pet overpopulation. 

Spaying or neutering your dog is the easiest way to guarantee that they will not contribute to the overpopulation problem. While there is debate in the veterinary community on the best time for the procedure, having your pet spayed or neutered is one of the most responsible decisions you can make as a dog owner. This is especially true if you live in the United States, where millions of unwanted dogs are euthanized every year.

If you choose not to spay or neuter, you can still be equally as responsible of a pet owner by keeping your dog safely contained at all times, and by choosing not to breed your dog.


What do you think makes a responsible dog owner? Leave your comments below. 

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Positively Expert: Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the internationally acclaimed TV series, It’s Me or the Dog. A bestselling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized and respected as a leader in the field of animal behavior.


11 thoughts on “5 Things Responsible Dog Owners Do

  1. riverdivine

    "Do unto others as we would have them do unto us".... Basically, treat your dog as you'd like to be treated. With kindness, care, compassion, patience, and love- putting your SELF in your dog's place- you will always make the right decision. 🙂 (eg, Would YOU want to be in a locked cage, alone and unable to move for hours at a time? Would you want to be removed from your family, and made to sleep alone, in a crate? Would you want to be on the end of a chain 5 feet of space, alone, and exposed to the elements? Would you want to be without the option to drink water when you're thirsty, or food that will not make you sick? Would you want to be imprisoned in a hot car, to die a slow death? Would you want to have prong collar metal spikes digging into your neck, or dragged along and choked by your neck if you weren't moving fast enough? Would you want to be yelled at if you didn't understand something? All animal 'pet parents' just need to remember the Golden Rule. Which is empathy, compassion, and putting ourselves in another's place to know what is right. ~*

  2. Johnny B Goosed

    This is great! September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month. The reality is very responsible owners leave dogs unattended in cars. I have two very tiny fur-kids who love doing Saturday morning errands with me. They're too small for tying up alone outside a shop, dry cleaners, etc while I dash inside for a minute. I always park in shade even on overcast days with the windows cracked. I want the world to know how serious I am about dog safety and created 'DogsGood' tags for responsible dog owners to display when briefly leaving the dogs for a minute. The message is "Responsible dog owner will BRB. Please call or text should you be concerned about my dog(s) well-being". Owners can display their cell number or 911. http://dogsgood.com/products/dogsgood-car-tag-style-1-bold-sturdy-card-stock-weather-resistant-with-a-gloss-finish

  3. Steve Zissou

    I would add three things:
    1.) A responsible dog owner recognises the limitations of their own training. Too often I see owners walking their dogs off leash thinking that their dog won't run. Most of the time, their dogs chase cats, other dogs and various other things.
    2.) A responsible dog owner is attentive. How many of us have seen the texting dog owners at the park? How many owners have we seen just releasing their dogs without a care in the world when they arrive at the dog park?
    3.) A responsible dog owner is dedicated, tenacious and consistent. Just because your dog doesn't get the instruction straight away, doesn't mean you quit. You keep at it using positive reinforcement, and you keep calm and consistent (maybe sometimes screaming inside).

  4. PremierDogs

    Yes, this one could be a loooong list. My personal addition would be "Put Your Dog In A Position To Succeed". Too often I see dogs that are put in situations/environments where the dogs don't have the ability to cope, and then the dog is punished for behaving 'inappropriately'.

  5. Karen

    What nonsense. We aren't "pet parents", we are dog owners. They aren't furbabies, they are dogs. I don't want to walk around with a collar or harness, attached to a leash. I don't want to eat on the floor. I don' want to have my uterus removed. This attitude is why we have so many dogs with issues, thousands which end up surrendered to shelters because of these issues. Most of these issues are easily preventable and correctable but this kind of ridiculous anthropomorphization leads owners to believe they can never utter a discouraging word or issue a firm correction to a misbehaving dog.

  6. Jen Gabbard

    Being committed to your dog for life never seems to make these lists. With so many animals being surrendered to shelters I guess it needs mentioning. Don't get a dog if you can't take care of it for it's lifetime. They're a huge commitment - people are always getting rid of dogs because they're moving, develop allergies, or have children. Think long term when you get a dog - if you're not willing to have a dog and children don't get a dog. If you think you might be in a position where you'll have to move to a place that doesn't allow dogs don't get one.

  7. Nicole

    The things that riverdivine mentions has little to do with anthropomorphism, it has to do with providing care that any living animal deserves. We all do things we don't "want" to do, but are necessary to do, but none of those things should ever seriously endanger our mental, physical, or emotional health. Besides, issuing a firm correction to a misbehaving human is not out of line, so it falls well within treating them as you would want to be treated. Wouldn't you rather be corrected before you endanger yourself or others (or before you do something irreparable) rather than being allowed to continue to do something stupid or foolish without knowing better? And if you don't listen to that first correction, then even if you don't want a harsher correction, then you need one. That still comes under do unto others as you would want done unto you - chances are you will be grateful for that harsher correction, later.

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