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September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month

Adorable dog lying on the floor

Give Your Dog Some TLC

For dog lovers everywhere, Responsible Dog Ownership Month is an annual celebration of man’s best friend, and also a friendly reminder to give our dogs a little extra tender loving care. The monthly celebration coincides with Responsible Dog Ownership Day (usually the third Saturday in September), which was started by the American Kennel Club in 2003 to encourage dog owners to be respectful, caring and responsible to their dogs. This often involves dog training lessons, veterinary visits, and reviewing their dietary needs.

If you’ve just gotten a dog for the very first time, or have had dogs for years, it’s important to make sure that they’re in good shape. Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that your dogs are happy and healthy.

Dogs Need Exercise

Dogs like exercise, activities and just having fun (preferably with their owners), so they should get as much exercise as possible. This may include running, chasing after a stick or a frisbee, or maybe tug of war with a chew toy. And if you have a swimming pool, and your dog is curious, let them go for a swim. Try a variety of different things to find out what your dog is really happy with. As most dogs crave attention, it’s important to take them outside for playtime; they’ll get the exercise they need and it will help them stay in shape and improve their health.

Manage your Dog’s Overall Wellness

While keeping your dog active is very crucial to their well being, so are regular trips to your Austin vet. It’s important that they have routine checkups, such as dental cleanings, vaccinations (if needed) and to make sure that they’re getting the right nutrition. Dogs’ bodies change over time, so make sure they’re getting the care they need as they get older.

A few other things to keep an eye on: Maintain their nails to make sure they don’t get too long. This can be painful and make it hard to walk, so keep them clipped regularly. Clean their teeth regularly (if possible), and get a dental cleaning once per year. There are treats and specific kinds of foods that can help with dental maintenance if you can’t clean their teeth on your own. It’s important to do everything you can to prevent them from getting dental disease.

Then there’s food. Dogs love to eat, so it’s important that they have a good diet throughout their life. Certain brands of dog food have more nutrients than others. Some dog food is also of lesser quality than other brands. Dogs require minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids in their diets. They also tend to be omnivorous, which means that they can eat a variety or plant and animal foods. But not all dogs are the same, so it’s best to have them checked out for any potential health problems. You may have to change their diet if your dog is of a certain age and weight. Your Austin veterinarian can help you find the right dietary needs for your dog, which can help them avoid major health issues down the road.

Training Your Dog

There are so many ways to connect with your dog, but it’s very important to train them properly. Simple commands from obedience training can go a long way if your dog is very rambunctious or difficult to control. Training can help make your dog safer, and improve their behavioral issues; it can also grow your bond with them. There are many training classes available for dogs of all ages; your vet can make recommendations if your dog needs a little guidance. For older dogs, your Austin vet may also have some ideas regarding advanced dog training as well.

Traveling With and Without your Dog

Most dogs love to travel, and if you take a road trip with your dog, the goal is to have fun. If you’ve never traveled with your dog before, you’ll have to be aware of when to feed them, and when they have to go to the bathroom. If you need to travel and you can’t take your dog with you, there are many options to make sure that they’re cared for. These include professional dog sitters who will stay with your pet while you’re gone, dog walkers who can take your dog out every day, and safe boarding kennels. If you have to go this route, do some research, ask friends or relatives who may have dogs as to what they would do; you can ask your veterinarian for advice.

Dogs like to play and roll around, but they also get dirty, especially if they spend time outside. A bath is good for their skin and coat, and helps to keep them clean and free of bugs, such as ticks, fleas and other parasites. Your dog may not enjoy the experience, but it’s good for them in the long run. And, of course, you have the fun of getting completely soaked by your dog shaking off all the excess water.

Dogs and Socialization

It’s important that your dog becomes comfortable around people and other pets. Once a dog learns to interact with people, they’ll typically always be friendly and outgoing. If possible, start the socialization process when they are puppies. Socialization helps dogs adjust to new situations with less stress. It also increases mental stimulation and improves behavior and well-being.

Keep Your Dog Safe

You want your dog to be happy, but you also want them to be safe. Make sure that your backyard fences are high enough so your dog can’t get loose. A dog run is one way to keep your dog on your property and prevent them from running away. If your dog is a puppy, you may want to build a pen to keep them enclosed; a pen can provide enough space so they can enjoy the outdoors, but so can’t get away. Also, any dogs spending time outdoors for any period of time should have access to plenty of clean, fresh water, and make sure you have a sheltered area set up for them to provide shade, as it does get very hot in Austin.

Periodically check that your collar, leash and other related items are in good condition. Frayed or mangled collars should be replaced, as they increase the risk of your dog breaking free and getting loose. Make sure your dog’s collar is tight, but not tight enough to hurt them.

As an extra preventive measure, you may want to consider getting your dog microchipped. Also consider getting a name tag for your dog, with their name and your address if someone finds them, so they can return your dog to you.