5 Signs of a Responsible Dog Owner

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Being a responsible pet parent may have many different definitions. But, it is more than just loving your dog and meeting his basic needs. Being responsible means learning how to understand the world from your dog’s point of view. Dogs speak a different language than people, and they are constantly studying everything we do to understand our behaviors and language. Being responsible means understanding their language and ways of communicating.

Here are some of the ways that you can be a responsible dog owner that go beyond the basics of neutering and spaying, exercising your dog, feeding them healthy meals and treats, and being there for them until the end of their life.

1. You Give Them Space.

Some dogs are very comfortable around a multitude of dogs and activity, many aren’t and need extra space. Learn to read your dog’s stress signals and make sure you keep her in an environment that is safe, determined by her needs. If you are aware of signs of stress in crowds, then it’s better to leave her home than take her with you to your local wine and art fair. Some dog-friendly events aren’t always friendly for all dogs.

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2. You Pay Attention To Their Sound Environment.

We brings dogs into our human world and we say “adjust.” Some do, many don’t. When dogs can’t orient the source of a sound to determine whether it is safe, they can easily go into sensory overload and develop anxiety behaviors along with health problems. Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 55,000 Hz. While I think it’s great that more events and public places are dog friendly, so often those environments are created for humans. A fundraising party for dogs and their people that benefits your local shelter, doesn’t benefit your dog when a loud band is playing. Please safeguard your dog’s sound environment.

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3. You Treat Dogs Like Dogs, Not Little Humans.

As humans, we tend to anthropomorphize our pets. It’s only natural if we love them. But, when we start to understand life from their point of view, we realize that dogs rarely show affection the way humans do. Most don’t like being pat on the head, especially from a stranger, and most don’t naturally take to hugs.

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4. You Prioritize Humane Training.

While it’s our responsibility to train our dogs, it’s also our responsibility to humanely train them with positive reinforcement. Humane training is not only the kind, loving way to train, but it’s scientifically proven and it works and helps to create an emotional bond between you and your dog that is priceless.

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5. You Provide Opportunities for Stimulation.

We can read a book or study a subject online when we want to learn, grow, and educate ourselves. But, it’s our responsibility to keep our dog’s minds stimulated. Feed her out of food puzzles instead of a bowl, enjoy a canine sport together, and teach her new tricks that help her keep thinking and making decisions.

Are you a responsible dog owner? Or maybe you prefer the terminology ‘pet parent’? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what makes you responsible in a comment below.

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13 Responses to 5 Signs of a Responsible Dog Owner

  1. Betty Lou Kishler says:

    I have 2 chihuahuas and it has been very difficult to take them walking in all the snow we’ve been having. We try to find schools that are closed on the weekends usually with long driveways so that they can be unleashed and run as they like. They come when called especially if treats are offered.

    • Lisa Spector says:

      Good for you, Betty, for going that extra mile, especially in the snow. They sound like lucky dogs to have you.

  2. ros says:

    our elderly dog has recently lost his canine companion of 13 years and is also becoming more fearful of loud sounds etc as he gets older – we have found the iCalm music box is amazing to settle him when he becomes stressed and agilated

    • Lisa Spector says:

      That is music to my ears Ros. So glad that iCalmDog has been so comforting for him. And, I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending calm.

  3. Deb says:

    My American Eskimo has a really thick coat and loves winter. I prefer it warm, but I layer on the clothes and put on the heavy coat, gloves, etc., and we have so much fun playing in the park! Then when it’s warmer I’ll wear jeans on our walks to remind myself what she’s going through so I don’t push her too hard.

    • Lisa Spector says:

      Wow Deb! You are definitely going the extra mile for your American Eskimo. It sounds like you are having a great time with him while doing so.

  4. cheryl romanowski says:

    Hello, Lisa: I recently lost my 15 yr old yorkie, Millie, on 12-31-14, one day after her 15th birthday. She was having difficulty processing her environment due to her age. She was always a very sensitive dog to noise. I only regret not having your music earlier. I did at times leave a soothing radio station on for her when I needed to leave her at home. Thanks for caring for the well being to all our very special companions in our lives. Cheryl Romanowski

    • Lisa Spector says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss Cheryl. I know how hard that is, no matter the age. I’m sure the soothing radio station helped her. Good for you for being aware of Millie’s sound sensitivity. I’m glad you have found Through a Dog’s Ear and hope that future dogs in your life will benefit from it.

  5. TNflash says:

    Strange but I would have thought a responsible owner would love their pet.

  6. Alex says:

    Hello Lisa, I am new to your site, I am a Dog-walker trainer and have always agreed that calm, music, for my dogs (before and after exercise) has helped to calm them..in the vehicle and at home,.and it’s a bonus when they feel our energy in a calm state..as their pack leader.thank you for your Knowledge and sharing the love for our Dogs/Cats who, as our gifts, continue to teach us unconditionally..~Alex

  7. David says:

    I adopted a racing kennel raised greyhound (he never raced), but he was excessively nervous. After 17 months I had got him over most of his fears, but one day he heard a motorbike, he didn’t see it, and the noise has just put him back those 17 months. The next day the neighbour smashed her can through the fence, he didn’t see it but we certainly heard it. Now, when I let him out the back he just stands watching the gates, and any sudden noises make him jump.
    I just ordered the calming CDs because I don’t want to give him the drugs the vet prescribed, and when I go back to work, I don’t want him stressing out in the house on his own.
    I read so much about the CDs, I had to try them (and anything else I can before resorting to drugs).

    • Lisa Spector says:

      David – I’m sorry he has already been through so much sound trauma, but it’s great you are so aware of it and trying canine sound therapy. Best to read the behavior tips in the CD liner notes before you start playing the music for her. Let us know how it works out.

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