Graduate from a ‘Pet Owner’ to a ‘Pet Parent’ PART-II

In the last issue, we discussed how to zero in your search for a perfect puppy, how to make him comfortable at home and taking care of his heath needs. Here’s more on this crash course in the field of pet parenting. Keep your dog safe

  • ID tags: Get an identification tag with your name, address and phone number and make sure it is attached to your dog’s collar at all times. This will increase the chances of your pooch being returned to you if he is lost or ran away chasing a cat! Have current pictures of your dog handy in case you need to start a search for him.
  • Travel safely: It’s always fun to take your pet on family trips. Take extra precautions and plan ahead of time to make sure the vacation goes smoothly. Never allow your dog to hang his head out of the car window.
  • Find a boarding kennel or pet-sitter: If you are unable to take your dog with you, make adequate arrangements for his care in your absence. Check out the kennel beforehand, inspect the facilities and listen to what others have to say about the place.
  • Prepare for disaster: Make an emergency kit with first aid equipment and some food. Keep it at a quickly accessible place in the house. In case of other emergencies, like sudden illness or hospitalization, enlist a friend or family member to take care of your dog. Leave a list of general care instructions in a safe place.
  • Make a will: Make arrangements for the safety and care of your dog for his lifetime in your will.

All work and no play make
Bruno and Bruno’s parents dull!

  • Play!: Dogs, of course, love to play. Some live to play! Set aside time each day for play sessions. Not only does it provide an outlet for your pup’s energy, it strengthens the bond between you two.
  • Go on walks: Take your dog on frequent walks. He will enjoy exploring the neighbourhood scents and smells and will benefit from the exercise. So will you!
  • Talk to your dog: He might not understand the words but dogs do understand the tone and pitch of human voice. Oh, and don’t forget to scratch your dog’s belly often.
  • Give your time: You may be tired after a long day at work or home, but your dog spends the entire day eagerly waiting for your return. Remember, you are the centre of your dog’s world. Give him time- pet, talk, play, laugh, share and love.

Train yourself to train your dog

  • Know who is the alpha: Dogs are pack animals by nature and need to know who heads the pack. You should be the pack leader and establish the same in your dog’s understanding of the family as a pack.
  • Basic commands: Training your dog will not only prevent destructive behaviour on his part or make life easier for you, but will also stimulate the dog intellectually. Basic commands such as sit, stay, come and down are also essential for your pet’s safety.
  • Socialise your dog: To ensure that your puppy grows up to be a confident yet friendly adult dog, expose him to different people and places regularly. Take him to the park, to the pet store, on a walk through your locality and meet up with other pet parents.
  • A dog with a job: Keep your dog active mentally as well as physically. Teach him to fetch the newspaper, carry a bag or even his toy. Make your doggie sit before giving a treat or lay down before going for a walk. Give your dog a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Breed responsibly- rather, avoid breeding

  • Sterilise: Spay or neuter your dog to prevent accidental breeding resulting in unwanted puppies. Animal shelters are full of puppies looking for homes. Don’t add more to the number.
  • Breed to improve: Breeding should only be done for the advancement or raising the standard of the breed. Consider the consequences, as well as the expenses of breeding a litter before you do so. Be ethical.

Participate and get involved

  • Join a kennel club or local group: Meet others with dogs and plan group activities. If there aren’t any such groups in your neighbourhood, take the initiative to make one. Your dog will thank you!
  • Be up-to-date: Equip yourself with knowledge about the canine world, be it new training techniques, toys or even food brands. Keep up with the latest dog news and information.

Be a canine ambassador

  • Set an example: How often have people commented on your dog based on the previous experiences with other dogs? One irresponsible pet owner in a neighbourhood can make life difficult for all pet parents. Try not to be that one.
  • Respect your neighbours and house guests: Don’t expect everyone to love your dog as much as you do. Keep him on your property and if he has a barking problem, teach him not to bark without real provocation. Don’t force your dog’s company on a visitor who isn’t comfortable with dogs. They’ll never know what they are missing in life!
  • Know and follow local laws: Read up on the laws regarding dog ownership in your area and respect them. These may include registration, leash laws and breeding laws. In case of the absence of any such laws, use your common sense to ensure well being of your pet, and the neighbourhood.
  • Stand up for the voiceless: Be aware of any legislation developing in your state with regard to pet dogs or even local strays. Have an opinion on the issue and don’t shirk from voicing it. Someone needs to talk on behalf of the voiceless, right?
  • Share your dog: Dogs are invaluable when it comes to providing company to humans, for example, visiting the sick, helping the disabled, playing with specially abled children, locating missing persons, and much more. If you think your dog has the right temperament to benefit others, help him help the world.
  • Flaunt your fur baby: Of course, you should reward your dog and let him know when you’re proud of him, but let others know it too. Many dogs love attention and being in the company of humans. Bringing a well-behaved dog into public places and showing off his tricks and talents is a great way for both of you to socialise while having fun.
  • Don’t let your dog down: You aren’t a dog parent just on the weekends, or when you have spare time. You aren’t a dog parent only when he is well behaved, or when people compliment him, or when he wins at an event. You become a pet parent when you bring a dog into your family and remain a parent throughout the dog’s life. If you can’t keep that commitment, don’t make it. And once you’ve made it, don’t break it.

Try to live by the famous quote, “My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.” May you graduate from being a pet owner to being a pet parent with honours. To test how well you are doing, check whether the tail beside you is wagging or not ….

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