How To Be A Responsable Dog Owner

Image credit: ohmydogblog


We decided to take the girls to a neighboring park that had recently reopened following extensive repairs. It's a lovely spot beside the river. Trails wind through the woodland areas, with boardwalks bridging the swampier areas. Picnic tables and benches, barbecues, and a small free library are all available under cover. There are restrooms, swing sets, a zip line, slides, and other accessible play structures.

"Should we bring Cooper?" I asked Robin as we prepared to leave.

We discussed it and decided against it. Most likely not. It's far too dangerous.


We've become accustomed to reckless dog owners at every park, trail, and pavilion in town. And it turns out that we were correct. We noticed an off-leash doodle dog running rampant in this obviously on-leash area as we walked down one of the walkways.

"Glad we didn't bring Coop," we remarked.

But isn't that unjust? Irresponsible dog owners repeatedly ruin the fun for responsible owners, and our poor dogs suffer as a result.


Before I get into my thoughts on responsible dog ownership, let me clarify the term "dog ownership."

I know it's a hot topic. Some people consider themselves to be a dog mom or dad, a dog guardian, a pet parent, a dog's partner, or any of a variety of other terms that attempt to remove the notion of a dog being property. But, for the sake of debate, I'm going to say dog owner because, well, that's what we are legal.

According to Law Insider, "Dog Owner" means "any person 18 years of age or older who owns, controls, keeps, harbors, has custody of a dog or any person who allows a dog to remain on or about his/her premises; or the parent or guardian of any child under the age of 18 years, who owns controls, keeps, harbors, has custody of a dog or any person who allows a dog to remain on or about his/her premises."

We're going with dog owners for this post because all of those components of the definition affect whether or not someone is accountable. Let's face it: being an irresponsible dog owner might find you in hot water.

So, what makes you a good dog owner?


You probably expected me to start with advice like picking up your dog's feces and keeping him on a leash. These are important, and we'll get to them before the end of the post, but they're not where we should begin. We need to start with your pet's basic necessities.

These are the fundamentals that most of us take for granted to the point where we don't even think about them. This includes giving your dog food, drink, and shelter. While there are debates about the best dog food, the bottom line is that you have a dog who is fed, watered, and protected from the weather.

Some pet owners fail to satisfy even those essentials, and while this does not necessarily indicate irresponsible pet ownership, it frequently arises from mental health and related difficulties... Another day, another theme. To summarize, if your dog is fed, hydrated, and sheltered, you are a competent dog owner at the most basic level.

But take it a step further.

Caring for your pet's fundamental physical needs includes taking care of his or her health. While some argue over immunizations, preventatives, and other issues, responsible dog owner takes their pet to the vet on a regular basis. A once-a-year vet visit is sufficient for most healthy pets. More visits may be required as your dog ages or if he has a medical condition. The key is to simply go.


A competent dog owner makes their dog's life more enjoyable by providing safety and stimulation.

First and foremost, there is physical safety, but that is an important component. This harkens back to the five freedoms, which are the fundamental principles of animal care and welfare (read the complete post here):

  • The absence of hunger and thirst
  • The absence of discomfort
  • The absence of pain, injury, or disease
  • The ability to display normal behavior
  • Freedom from anxiety and stress

As a starting point, a responsible dog owner takes care of the first three items listed above. However, to provide proper care for your dog, you must also handle freedoms four and five. As we all know, mental health is synonymous with physical health.

A responsible dog owner does not fear, injure, intimidate, threaten, or otherwise frighten their dog. A responsible individual attempts to alleviate or manage the worries of inherently fearful canines in a gentle, constructive manner.

Normal behavior: Your dog gets exercise through walks or runs, and he gets to display normal activities such as sniffing or barking. While a loose leash walk is crucial for safety, allowing for smelling time is critical for your dog's mental health. Barking might be bothersome or disruptive, but it is also natural dog behavior. Allow your dog to bark occasionally. Train a quiet cue if needed, but try to let your dog be a dog every now and then. Nothing makes Cooper prouder than knowing he kept his family safe by barking at the UPS guy. I let him have it if the baby isn't asleep or I'm not on a conference call!

Consider how you may enrich your dog's life even more with mental games, food riddles, and new experiences. All of these things will make your dog happier and healthier, and they will also enrich your life.


A conscientious dog owner do this even if it means sacrificing or being unhappy sometimes. How does this appear?

If your dog isn't at ease in a crowded cafe (or sidewalk sale, Lowe's, festival, etc.), keep him at home. His pain isn't worth your guilt over leaving him at home. He's happier and more secure.

If your dog does not enjoy having people over, provide a safe area for her to stay while they are there. Alternatively, you may meet your buddies at a restaurant or their home.

If you take your dog to an off-leash park or path, keep him on a leash even if you believe he has the most reliable recall in the universe.

Your dog may be the most sociable, outgoing, vivacious lady the world has ever seen, but if you're having small children over or taking your dog to an event with small children, think carefully about your strategy. Even if your dog is excellent everywhere else, don't expect her to be ideal with tiny children. Even if you believe, as I do, that parents should teach their children how to behave around dogs, you cannot rely on this and endanger your dog. Whatever you anticipate of others, the only person you can control is yourself. Make sound decisions for your dog in the presence of children, even if it means leaving her at home or avoiding the event entirely.

More on this vital topic can be found at: Dog Bite Prevention and 3 Pet Safety Tips for Kids.

Pick up after your pet! It should go without saying, yet we routinely see piles at parks, playgrounds, and trails:


According to the APPA, the pet business is expected to generate $143.6 billion in sales in the United States.

That's a lot of dog information.

And while all of the beautiful bowls, toys, treats, bandanas, and costumes may make you feel like you need to lavish your dog with gifts to be a good dog owner, this is just not the case.

Yes, there are numerous products available to assist you in providing excellent care for your dog. Food puzzles like these and this may make mealtimes more enjoyable. You may even roll up kibble in towels and hide it around your house for a free, equally stimulating activity.

Your dog can stay hydrated by drinking from a filtered fountain or a stainless steel bowl for less than $5.

You can get sophisticated leashes that change and morph into different incarnations like this, which is quite cool, but a regular nylon leash works just as well.

You can feed your dog well, address his or her physical needs, take your dog to the vet on a regular basis, and improve your dog's life without spending a lot of money.

Let's face it: it's preferable to spend less money on bowls and costumes and instead save it for vet costs!


Responsible dog owner is just concerned with their dog and not with the humans or animals around them.

Feed your dog high-quality food that is within your family's budget. Maintain the cleanliness of his water bowl. Dishes should be washed on a regular basis.

Take your dog to the doctor for a yearly checkup, and work with your vet on preventative health, vaccinations, medicine, and anything else that will keep your pooch happy and healthy. This includes dental care and nail trimming!

Keep your dog away from other people, and keep others away from your dog. Obey the rules. Allow your dog to run free unless you're in a designated off-leash location. Don't take your dog anywhere he won't be comfortable, and consider creating or removing him to another location if you can't be confident he'll be safe and comfortable. And pick up after your dog!

Use no coercion or intimidation to get your dog to do what you desire.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to provide exceptional care for your dog. Maintain a healthy weight for him. Get enough exercise and mental stimulation.


Having a dog is ideal. They're entertaining and amusing. They are affectionate and playful. They're happiness wrapped in fur.

Take excellent care of your puppy. They are worth it and much more.

Tell me how you make sure you're a responsible dog owner. On the other hand, what reckless behavior do you and your dog encounter when out and about? How do you deal with it? Please share your thoughts in the comments! I'd be delighted to hear from you!

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