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Responsible Dog Ownership: A Checklist for Great Dog Parents

A responsible dog owner hugging her dog

Every dog is different. However, every dog has the same basic needs: food, water, exercise, and attention. But being the best dog owner on the block is about more than just providing your dog with the essentials they need to survive. Responsible dog ownership goes a step further by ensuring your dog has what they need to thrive! 

Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month by seeing how many of these doggy-musts you already do!

☐ Provide Your Dog with Daily Mental Enrichment

Dogs need mental stimulation to feel their best. In fact, more mental stimulation, including solving puzzles has a long-term impact on a dog’s health. Studies show that mental stimulation can stave off dog dementia and reduce the symptoms [1].

Mental enrichment can also reduce a dog’s anxiety, depression, and stress.

Remember that different dogs need differing levels of challenge. 

How to incorporate more mental enrichment into your dog’s life:

☐ Keep Up with Your Dog’s Dental Hygiene 

A dog getting their teeth brushed

If you checked this one off, you’re a GREAT dog parent. Brushing a dog’s teeth often gets skipped. In fact, only about 7% of dog parents brush their dog’s teeth [2]. And while this daily duty may not be the most fun, it has a profound impact on a dog’s health by possibly increasing your dog’s life. Studies show that bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream through the gums. This bacteria then has the opportunity to damage organs [3].

In addition to brushing, dogs also need regular dental checkups and cleanings. So, be sure to ask your vet next time you’re in to take a peek at your dog’s teeth!

☐ Practice Dog Massage

People are the only creatures that appreciate a massage. Dogs also benefit from a gentle rub down. Massage can help ease a dog’s anxiety while helping their circulation. 

☐ Provide Your Dog Downtime

Silence can be beautiful to our dogs, as well. While your dog may not mediate, some peace and quiet can be quite relaxing for them. If you spend a bit of time simply relaxing with your doggo, you will likely find any tension melting away from their face and body. 

Spending some quiet time together is also a great way to form an even stronger bond and mutual appreciation for one another.

☐ Feed Your Dog a Healthy Diet

When it comes to your dog’s wellbeing, few factors have as strong of an impact as their diet. Nourishing your dog’s body also nourishes their brain and helps them feel their best. A dog diet free of artificial ingredients and unsavoury fillers also provides the foundation for a long, healthy life. So, remember to always check the ingredient list. If people wouldn’t want to eat it, why feed it to your dog?

☐ Daily Exercise is a Must

Dogs are naturally active animals. After centuries of hunting for their dinner, dogs still have the natural instinct to run, walk, and use their minds in an active setting. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why dogs need to shake their extra energy out on a daily basis.

Walks and other physical activities improve your dog’s health and mental well-being. Even dogs that enjoy spending time snuggled up on the couch benefit from a walk around the neighbourhood.

☐  Don’t Skip Your Dog’s Vet Visits

Your vet is one of the best resources you have when it comes to your dog’s health and happiness. Seeing them annually (and twice per year once your dog hits their senior years) is vital. 

Not only do regular checkups help your veterinarian spot any health concerns but it also provides them with a baseline for how your dog typically looks and acts. This comes in handy when it comes to diagnosing problems should they crop up.

☐  Preventative Health Measures

Responsible dog ownership requires a proactive approach. This includes protecting your dog from parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Other ways you can prevent your pupper from getting sick include not allowing them to drink from standing water, checking the temperature of surfaces before they walk on them, and keeping them on a lead whenever they’re near a road.

☐  Express Your Love and Appreciation for Your Dog

Dogs adore their owners. Showing your dog just how much you care about them is an easy way to improve your dog’s life. Whenever you notice your dog looking bored, lonely, or simply being a good boy or girl, give them some positive praise and physical affection. This will help boost their confidence and brighten their day!

You’re a Dog-Gone Great Owner!

A dog owner with her head pressed against her dog's

Being a great dog owner isn’t about having all the latest bells and whistles. It’s all about understanding your dog’s needs and giving them the love they deserve. So, even if you didn’t check off all the items on this list, remember that a little goes a long way. You can always begin implementing new small routines to improve your dog’s life for the long term.