Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pet Pointers: Habits of Responsible Pet Owners

A new study concludes that dogs generate 5X more of the love hormone, oxytocin when they see their owners than cats do. In light of this heartwarming news – and because it is Responsible Pet Owner Month – I have a chance to include tips for how to be the best pet parent you can be, courtesy of Heidi Ganahl, CEO and Founder of Camp Bow Wow

Being a good pet owner begins from the moment you start thinking about getting a pet, and carries through the rest of your lives together. Here are some key habits of responsible, effective pet owners, to help make your pet’s life as enriched and happy as he makes yours:
1.       They do their research: Before even going to look for a pet, responsible owners determine the needs and constraints of their family and lifestyle. Do you have an active family with enough living space who can handle a breed that needs a lot of exercise, or would it make more sense for your lifestyle to get a pet that requires less activity? Do you have time to comb and brush your pet daily or would you prefer a pet that doesn’t require as much grooming? It is important that you know these criteria before going to look for a pet so you pick one that is right for your family and don’t just pick a pet based on its looks. Aside from pet research, effective owners are well prepared for the costs that go along with adding a pet to their family. Veterinary expenses are something you want to factor in as you choose your pet. In the early stages of life, costs of exams and shots should be fairly minimal, but you have to plan for any emergencies or the cost of having a senior pet. Emergencies along the way can also cost a significant amount of money, and as your pet gets older, the cost of veterinary care goes up. You can research the cost of pet insurance to see if it will be right for you and your new pet.
2.       They give their pet lots of love and attention: Dogs love their humans and it is important for them to spend time with you. Leaving a dog alone in the back yard or for extended periods of time is not healthy for them. If you work long hours, hire a dog walker to get your dog out during the day for some exercise and companionship.
3.       They see training as essential: Responsible owners know that training is essential to creating a happy and healthy environment for the whole family. To help new pets become comfortable in their new home, training is key not only for house breaking and to keep your furniture intact, but also to ensure your dog’s safety. From training to never beg, bark or chew, training is the essential stepping stone to ensuring your dog is a well-behaved member of the family both inside and outside of the home.
4.       They focus on nutrition: Nutrition is a big factor in a pet’s life, and choosing the right food for your pet will help you keep your new furry friend in tip top shape. High quality food will nourish your dog more completely, bring your pup to a healthier weight, produce less waste, reduce shedding and result in a shinier coat. Although a higher quality food may seem expensive, your dog will eat less and be healthier.
5.       They exercise their pets: A pet’s daily exercise is very important for two reasons. Pets need daily exercise to keep in shape, as well as to keep bad habits at bay. Pets that don’t get enough exercise are more likely to get into bad habits to try to release some of their energy, including barking, chewing and digging. Exercise is also critical to pets so that they maintain healthy joints and bones. Good pet owners will make sure their dogs get a brisk 20-30 minute walk a day to get their energy out.
6.       They know socializing is essential: Pets need their people, and interacting with your pets on a daily basis helps keep them feeling like part of the family. Whether it is a fun activity like playing ball or just some good quality petting time (which is proven to reduce a human’s blood pressure), this will help your pet stay happy and healthy. An effective owner will also prepare their pets for other interactions with animals; keeping your dog socialized will help keep bad behavior at bay.
7.       They educate children on how to interact with your dog properly: If you have children, teach them the proper way to interact with your dog. Most dog bites occur with kids under 12 years old, so educating yourself, as well as your kids, on the proper way to be around their four-legged family member is a must.
8.       They get their pets microchipped – Responsible owners get their dogs microchipped and make sure they wear an ID tag with their contact information on them at all times. On average, 80-85% of dogs and 98% of cats that go missing will not return home, but proper ID tags and microchips help to increase the likelihood of a reunion with a lost pet.

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