Like people, dogs require exercise. While it’s easy to fall back on the traditional walk around the block, responsible dog ownership requires dog owners to discover the kind of exercise their dog loves. While some dogs live for their daily walk, others may prefer a faster pace, in which case a run or strenuous hike with elevation changes might be more appropriate. For other dogs, play is key. A rigorous game of fetch or tug-of-war might prove the best exercise for a playful dog who craves attention and stimulation, along with physical activity. Some dogs even like to swim or run agility courses.
To celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership this month, expose your dog to lots of different types of physical activity and notice which one seems to result in the most energy, joy, and exhaustion. Once you’ve discovered what kind of exercise or dog sport appeals most to your dog, you can celebrate responsible dog ownership all year round by committing to doing the activity on a regular basis.
2. Health and Wellness
Another important responsibility is scheduling and attending regular veterinary check-ups for your dog, seeking appropriate dental care, and providing proper nutrition. A dog’s medical needs vary with age, so it’s important to discuss with your veterinarian what your dog needs at any particular stage of life. Most dogs require annual vaccinations, but some veterinarians recommend holding off on certain vaccinations after a dog reaches a particular age.
Your veterinarian can also advise you on any necessary dental care for your dog, such as regular cleaning.
Regarding your dog’s nutrition, you may need to consider several factors, including age, weight, activity level, allergies, etc. Your vet can help you ascertain the proper amount of food for your dog, as well as any special dietary needs your dog may have. Some vets may recommend grain-free diets or special food for dogs prone to gastrointestinal issues.
There are many fun ways to bond with your dog, from enjoying a morning walk to snuggling on the couch. Training is an excellent way not only to make your dog safer, better behaved, and more social, but also to strengthen the bond you share. From Canine Good Citizen to puppy socialization and dog sports, there is sure to be a class or event that you and your dog will enjoy.
Once you’re aware of all of the opportunities available, identify what your dog needs and work from there. If you’re not sure what training would be best for your dog, the AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a good starting place.
It’s important to make sure there’s a plan in place for your dog if you need to travel without them. As with training, many options exist, including professional dog sitters who make daily visits to your dog, dog walkers who make sure your dog continues to exercise while you’re away, and boarding kennels where your dog can stay while you travel. Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month by making sure your travel provisions are optimal for your dog’s safety, well-being, and comfort, as well as for your own peace of mind.