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5 Universal Responsibilities of Dog Owners


pexels-photo-193035-largeOwning a dog is a huge responsibility, one that sometimes is not fully considered in advance.  To aid owners in understanding the role they are undertaking in a dog’s life, the ASPCA has created a list outlining the five freedoms every animal should have.  Does your dog enjoy these freedoms?

Provide Food and Water
At the top of the list of responsibilities that you have to your pet is providing reliable access to fresh water and food.  Water should be refreshed multiple times per day, and the food should be appropriate for your pet.  If your dog lives primarily outdoors, a heated water bowl should be utilized during the winter months so that water does not freeze.  During the summer months, water bowls should be cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of algae.

Provide Appropriate Housing
Every animal should have access to a roof and four walls of protection, whether primarily kept inside or out.  The environment should be suitable for the animal, never too hot or too cold.  In addition, proper bedding should be provided, such as straw or wood chips for outdoor housing, or a comfortable dog bed when indoors.

Maintain Good Health for your Pet
Another important component of caring for your dog is providing necessary medical treatment and preventative care.  Dogs require vaccination, worming, and parasite prevention, as well as annual exams.  If your pet is in pain or is suffering, timely diagnosis and treatment are necessary.  When an animal’s quality of life is diminished, pet owners must selflessly make the best choice for their dog’s wellbeing.

Allow Your Dog to Express Normal Behavior
A dog should be allowed to behave in a way that suits its nature.  This includes providing enough space for your pet, proper socialization, and adequate facilities.  For instance, if you own a Siberian Husky it is not appropriate to keep the animal in a kennel or confined space all day without exercise.  Doing so would suppress the animal’s high-energy lifestyle and create a depressed dog.  In addition, canines are social animals, so it is important to provide companionship.  A dog should never be isolated from humans or other animals for extended periods of time, such as by being chained in the yard 24/7.

Avoid Undue Fear and Distress
When possible avoid situations that cause mental or emotional pain for your pet.  If instances arise where your pet cannot function without fear, you are responsible for working through the problem, such as by hiring a dog trainer.  For example, a pet that suffers from severe separation anxiety should be treated, or its condition carefully managed.  Simply leaving a suffering pet home all day in a crate is not appropriate, as this severely decreases the dog’s quality of life.

While caring for a dog is not difficult, there are numerous variables an owner should consider.  At the very least, owning an animal requires a commitment to provide food, water, shelter, health care, and a willingness to allow the pet to behave in a way that is appropriate for its species.

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Anna Weber

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