Socializing your dog is an imperative part of being a responsible pet owner. Other dogs may not appreciate an unknown dog running up to them and invading their space, and similarly, people may not not like a dog doing this, even if that dog does this out of overly friendly enthusiasm. Remember, some people are legitimately afraid of dogs because of negative experiences. Service dogs and their handlers need to focus on going about their business and not being distracted by an unpredictable dog.
Be respectful of other people, their dogs, and the spaces of both.
The animal welfare organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) established May as Responsible Animal Guardian Month. The campaign’s goal is to encourage people to treat animals with respect and fulfill their obligation to care for those they have taken in as pets. For this reason, IDA uses the term “guardian” instead of “owner”.
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Broadly speaking, responsible pet guardians are concerned with the physical, emotional, and cognitive health of their pet(s). By being solicitous about their pet’s overall well-being, said guardians are more likely to develop strong bonds with their pets. Here are ways you can be a responsible pet guardian and give the best possible pet care:
Daily care. This involves providing shelter, healthy and nutritious food, appropriate regular exercise, grooming, behavior training, and at least annual vet visits for vaccines and wellness exams.
Ethics. Adopting only through responsible shelters, rescues, or breeders. Always treat pets with love, compassion, and respect. Report suspected abuse or neglect.
Safety. Microchip and ensure that your pet has current ID tags. Pet-proof your home. Take measures to prevent your pet from getting loose and lost. Teach others how to interact with pets safely, appropriately, and respectfully.
Well-Being. Teach your pet house manners. Apply rules consistently and invest in proper behavior training. Opportunities to socialize your pet with other people and pets. Provide regular play and bonding time. Establish and provide mutual trust, respect, and abundant love between you and your pet.
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Want to learn more about being a responsible pet guardianship? The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a useful list and set of guidelines detailing the multi-faceted responsibilities of a pet guardian. In my personal opinion, being a responsible pet guardian is an important aspect of good citizenship and community involvement. Humans and animals alike benefit from the acts of responsible animal guardians. It’s a way you can use your powers for good.