Most owners consider their canines to be much more than companions, and to many people, these four-legged sources of joy and comfort are a part of the family. September is Responsible Dog Ownership month, and the designation gives owners a chance to reflect on the environment and resources they’re providing for their pets and make adjustments if necessary.
Dr. Jennifer Coval, a small animal provider with Countryside Veterinary Services, has a few key pieces of advice that can make a world of difference in your dog’s wellbeing.
Tip #1: Give Them Their Space
While most owners love sharing space with their pets, it’s important to make sure dogs have their own designated area, especially at certain times, Coval explains. Using a crate to house a dog at night or while an owner isn’t at home is key in reducing separation anxiety and preventing accidents in the house. Young dogs or those new to a home may especially benefit, Coval says. Owners can use a crate while they figure out how their new dog reacts as they prepare to leave the house or if they notice the animal chewing on furniture or other things it shouldn’t have unsupervised access to.
“It gives them a safe place to go,” Coval says.
Adult dogs who are used to being crated can usually comfortably stay in an appropriately sized enclosure for six to eight hours, she says. Younger dogs, especially puppies who are still potty training, should be allowed out every four hours or so. This schedule may be difficult to maintain for owners who work away from home. If this situation is the case, Coval recommends finding someone to come by the house and give the dog a short break outside or investing in a daycare package with a local pet care provider. More and more specialty pet services are popping up, especially in urban areas, and some groomers even offer this option.
Daycare also works to socialize dogs of all ages, Coval says, so if you’re thinking about utilizing this service, see if the provider allows even-tempered dogs to have appropriately supervised contact with one another. This option may allow your dog to move around freely during the day and also to improve its social skills.
“It’s a win-win,” Coval says.
Tip #2: Plants + Pets = Problems
In recent years, home improvement and grocery stores have made the availability of attractive, flowering plants a year-round reality. However, having live plants in the house can be a hazard for dogs, Coval explains, as certain species can be toxic. Owners should make sure they know what they’re buying when they invest in houseplants and place the new additions away from curious canines.
Tip #3: Let’s Take This Outside
When it comes to letting pets have time outdoors, Coval recommends owners proceed with caution. Pets who aren’t used to being away from their owners, even if they’re just separated by an outside door, can get bored easily, and boredom can result in destruction of property or injury to a pet, she explains.
Basic needs like water should always be available, especially in warmer weather, she says, and for pets who don’t live inside, a doghouse is essential. In winter, if the weather is slated to dip below freezing, owners should find a place to bring dogs inside the house, Coval cautions.
For homes with a sturdy fence in the backyard, leaving a dog outside for a few minutes to explore on their own can be fine if the owner sets the stage for safety. Coval recommends owners stand at the back door of their home at first to issue voice corrections if their dog begins doing something unsafe like mouthing rocks or challenging the fence. Proper supervision and containment practices should be in place outside the fence, too, Coval says. Although some counties in Georgia don’t have a leash ordinance, she recommends leashing dogs no matter what when they are outside of the home.
Another important part of pet safety is keeping your pets on a leash whenever you take them outside the home, like our techs Ricarda and Ashley.
Tip #4: Microchips Are A Massive Help
In the event, a treasured pet does escape from a backyard or home, Coval says it’s important to have a safety net in place. Microchipping can be a lifesaver when a pet gets away as it gives anyone who finds the animal the ability to find its owners. The chip insertion procedure typically runs less than $50 with your local vet, and it’s a quick and relatively painless affair. Many veterinary clinics, including Countryside, have a microchip scanner.
“It just gives people a better chance of being able to locate their pet,” Coval says.
Owners should also always keep collars on their dogs, Coval says. It’s a time-tested practice, and tags with the pet’s name and either the owner’s phone number or their vet’s number can make the difference in seeing a beloved pet returned home.
Responsible dog ownership is an ongoing concept that you’ll need to adjust during your pet’s life. The approaching change in seasons is the perfect time to review your practices and perhaps make changes in areas that need improvement.
Post by Liz Crumbly