Dogs are attentive, loyal, life-affirming, and understanding companions. But owning a dog means taking responsibility for him and making sure your relationship is built on a solid foundation. That’s where these rules come into play: They can help you create a tighter bond with your pet by establishing roles, rules, and routines.
Twelve golden rules
- Love, admire and respect your dog. Your dog is a wonderful, beautiful and intelligent member of the canine species. Be patient with him. Don’t hurt, abandon, or ignore him. Get help before you give up on him.
- Spay/neuter. Consult your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your dog if you know you will not breed him. These procedures help to control the severe pet population problem, and also have health benefits for both male and female dogs.
- Routine health care. Provide regular veterinary care for your dog. Annual vaccinations, checkups, and dental exams are essential to good health.
- Dog license and ID. Rabies vaccination and licensing are required by law in most states. In addition, you should identify your dog with a name tag, tattoo, or computer chip in case he gets lost.
- Healthy diet. Feed your dog a balanced diet and provide fresh water at all times.
- Train your dog. After all, good manners don’t just happen. So be patient and follow a proper training routine. If you need help training your dog, there are many articles on this site that can help. And if you still need assistance, ask your vet to recommend a good trainer or dog obedience school in your area.
- Keep your dog clean and groomed. Regular grooming keeps your dog looking his best and helps to detect and control skin parasites that could be passed to people.
- Play with your dog. Playtime should last at 20–30 minutes a day. Avoid chase games, tug of war, and wrestling.
- Exercise your dog. Depending on the age and breed of your dog, a good exercise session should last at least 30 minutes daily. And it’s not just good for your dog—it’s a great way for both of you to keep in shape.
- Socialize your dog. Provide your dog with a chance to socialize with people and other dogs. Try not to keep him cooped up in the house or yard because it could lead to barking and aggressive behavior.
- Know and obey local leash laws. When in doubt, keep him leashed when you’re both out and about.
- Scoop that poop. Always clean up after your dog in public places.