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Bark Bytes… Can You Be A Responsible Dog Owner and Still Love Your Canine Companion?

February is Responsible Pet Ownership Month and the 14th is a special day to express love for sweethearts with flowers, candy or a romantic dinner.  This year, remember your furry, four-legged valentine, too!  Make the day extraordinary by including your canine companion in the day’s festivities.

Dogs need order and leadership from their “pack leader,” which means that good canine manners start with you.  Making the decision to become a dog owner brings a lot of responsibility and you need to build a great relationship between you and your dog and help your canine companion live a long, healthy and happy life.

  • Get your dog spayed or neutered. Spayed/neutered pets not only live longer and healthier lives, but they also make better companions. The best age to spay/neuter a dog is around five to six months old, at the beginning of puberty.  Talk to your vet about the right time for your dog.
  • Provide proper identification. Your dog should always wear an I.D. tag with your name, address and phone number. Getting your dog microchipped gives an added layer of protection and increases the chances that he will be returned to you if he is lost or runs away.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Choose a veterinarian who shares your medical philosophies and beliefs; then follow his/her recommendations for vaccinations, diet, spaying/neutering, annual check-ups, and other care.
  • Make time for your dog. Owning a dog is a big responsibility that takes time and discipline. Make time daily to pet, play with, do some training, take a walk, or do other activities with your dog that are fun for both of you.
  • Provide shelter for your dog. A crate or doghouse is an ideal place for your dog to rest, sleep, and feel safe. The enclosure should be large enough for your dog to sit, stand and turn around comfortably, but small enough to retain his body heat inside the shelter.
  • Travel safely. Keep your dog safe in the car by using a crate or by attaching the dog to a seat belt with a harness. Never let your dog ride free in the back of a pickup truck (he could be thrown into traffic) or allow him to hang his head out of the car window (a danger to his eyes).
  • Pick up after your dog. If your dog leaves a mess on your neighbor’s lawn or a public area, clean it up right away.
  • Control nuisance behaviors. Do not allow your dog to jump on visitors or bark uncontrollably.
  • Keep your dog under control. Use a leash when outside. Many towns have leash laws and you want to obey those regulations.

There are some “special” things we can do for our canine friends

  • Get some exercise. A spirited walk or some time at the park is a great way to burn energy and spend some quality time together.
  • Spend time together on a shopping spree at your favorite pet retailer or boutique. Clothing and accessories aren’t the only things that will spoil your dog. How about a luxury pet bed that will send your dog to an ultra-comfortable dream world?  You both will sleep easy knowing this purchase was meant to pamper.
  • Remember this special day forever by having a one-of-a-kind pet portrait made of your dog. You will appreciate the elegance and joy that this artwork will bring for years to come.
  • Give your furry friend a new toy. Nothing says “Be My Valentine” like a dog appropriate toy. Be sure it is dog-safe and your four-legged friend will get hours of enjoyment out of a new plaything.  Plus, those cute little toys scattered throughout the house are just little reminders of how much you love your pup.
  • Bake some homemade dog biscuits for your pooch. If baking isn’t your forte, pick up gourmet treats at a local pet boutique. Even our furry friends deserve to have their tummies pampered on Valentine’s Day.  Remember – no chocolate for our furry friends.

It doesn’t really matter how you spoil your dog this Valentine’s Day as long as you both have fun.  Whether you opt for simple or extravagant, make it a safe and enjoyable holiday for both you and your furry best friend.

So yes, you can shower your dog with love and affection and still be a responsible dog owner!  You will enhance your relationship and your furry friend will love you even more.

Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company.  For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.dog-training-new-haven-ct.com.

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