As submitted to Northern Virginia Today – Sept 2014
September 20th is the American Kennel Club’s Responsible Dog Ownership Day. Though many assume the AKC is only about the purebred dog, this is far from the truth. The AKC has always allowed crossbreds to go for Canine Good Citizen certifications and in recent years opened up The AKC encourages and financially supports canine medical research that benefits all dogs, has a mobile disaster response team plus maintains a microchip database and registry to help return lost pets to their owners and donates resources to groups assisting needy pet owners. Most of all, the AKC encourage all dog owners to act responsibly. So, what is a responsible dog owner (RDO for short)?
Being an RDO begins before you get a dog. Why do you want a dog? What research have you done? If faced with a life changing event, will you make all attempts to include the dog?
Being an RDO means you are willing to work with your own or any child your dog could encounter to teach desired behaviors around the dog. It is amazing how many undesired dog actions have a child as the creating force.
Being an RDO means working to prevent issues than waiting to train after an issue has begun. You will seek positively based training methods and socializing plans that work to promote teaching desired behaviors than waiting for an undesired behavior happens then punishing it out.
Being an RDO means meeting your dog’s physical and mental needs for each stage of life.
Being an RDO means properly and safely confining your dog to your yard. The best, safest and least likely to cause behavioral issues is a barrier fence, tall enough the dog cannot climb over. Electric fences should be avoided at all costs. They offer no protection for your dog, for others and cause undesired behaviors related to how the fence works on the dog’s brain.
Being an RDO means keeping your pet in good health and keeping current on the vaccines you and your vet decide upon. (Note, rabies is mandatory by law in every state with few exceptions).
Being an RDO means understanding your pet has feelings and emotions. It is realizing your dog may not like other dogs or enjoy children racing up and giving hugs or want to go play at a dog park. Just because you feel your dog must do something, does not mean he will want to.
Being an RDO is advocating for your dog and making sure people and their dogs respect your dog.
Being an RDO means putting your dog’s needs first when considering adding another pet. Is adding a new pet in the best interest of your existing dog? What about the pet you are looking at adding?
Being an RDO means knowing when it is time to day “Good-bye.” This is the hardest thing. Be it we realize the dog deserves a more suited home or that the quality of life due to illness is gone, RDOs think first about the best interest of the dog.
For more on Responsible Dog Ownership Day, please visit http://www.akc.org and look locally for various RDO events!