How to be a Good Pet Owner
Owning a dog is a joy, privilege, and responsibility. If you are considering bringing a dog into your life, think seriously about the commitment that being a responsible dog owner entails. We’ve compiled a list so that you can learn how to be a good pet owner that practices responsible pet ownership.
1. Responsible pet ownership
The first step to being a great pet owner is to take responsibility. Responsible pet ownership means taking on the responsibility of learning about your pet’s breed and their unique needs. For example, you should know how much exercise they need, how much grooming they’ll need, how often to take them outside along with products and new technologies that will help you care for your pet. Being a responsible pet owner and knowing the basics about what your pet needs ensures that you won’t be caught off guard by troubling behaviour in the long-run.
2. Detect signs of stress
While we are naturally attuned to feel stress in other people, it may be difficult to know what a stressed pet looks like. Stress in pets increases their cortisol level – the flight of flight hormone. Over time, high cortisol levels can lead to long-term metabolic conditions in your pet. Signs of stress you should look out for include:
- Excessive yawning
- Avoiding or hiding
- Shaking dry when not wet
- Excessively licking lips
- Hardening of the eyes
3. Reduce stress
The best way to reduce stress is to reduce anxiety triggers. For instance, if your pet is nervous being alone or while travelling, play some soothing music for them or draw the shades. The less stimulus your pet is exposed to from the outside world, the less anxiety they’ll have about events outside of their control.
4. Create a tight bond with your pet
Dogs and cats own a soft spot in our hearts. Every time you pet your animal, you get a release of oxytocin, prolactin and dopamine in your brain with a decrease of cortisol. Simply put, your pet helps your body release biochemical feelings of happiness. As pets age, it can be easy to take them for granted. It’s important to take some time every day for some human-animal bonding with your pet.
5. Take care of your pets’ needs at home
While your home is a part of your life, to your pet is constitutes their whole world. In our homes, we tend to put our own needs first, placing out pets items where they are most convenient to us, rather than for our pets themselves. Doing so can easily stress a pet out. To locate stressors in the home, consider the following:
- Are feeding dishes and litter boxes easily accessible?
- Are neighbours’ pets a source of irritation?
- Does your pet have access to a secluded space to rest?
- Are outside noises or light over-stimulating them?
6. Plan for when you’re away
Are you going to be away for long hours? If so, make sure your pet is provided for. There are pet-friendly TV channels, pheromone sprays and tech, like automated treat dispensers, which can keep your pet preoccupied during the day. Of course, there is always daycare and dog walkers, which are a great way to enrich your pet’s day.
7. Keep them active
Energy levels differ between breeds significantly. Dogs like Labs, Greyhounds and Border Collies can have immense amounts of energy. With cats, there is not a significant exercise requirement, but having outlets for play is still crucial. For both dogs and cats, dispensing food around the home for your pet to find or using puzzle feeders are creative ways to engage your pet’s body and mind.
8. Regular vet visits
Prevention always comes first and you should never wait for signs of illness to go visit the vet. One to two vet visits a year is ideal to keep your pet happy. In the case that you do suspect a problem, don’t self-diagnose and don’t hesitate to go to the vet.
9. Socialize your pets
Some breeds have a harder time socializing than others, but nobody benefits from an antisocial pet. Here are some techniques for introducing your pet to strangers:
- Meet on neutral territory, where nobody feels territorial.
- With humans, give them a treat to feed your pet.
- With other animals, time and patience are key. Reward calm behaviour.
10. Help them adapt to new environments
While puppies and kittens are typically easygoing, mature pets often need guidance when transitioning into a new space. It is important to introduce them slowly to new environments. In these cases, pheromone sprays come in handy for making strange spaces more inviting.
11. Celebrate your pet at every age
Everyone loves a new puppy or kitten, with their energy, soft coats and humorous quirks. But, like people, as pets age, they change physically and their needs change. Adapting to their changing needs will ensure that your furry friend remains a happy and healthy family member.