The power of pet ownership comes with great responsibility. Being a responsible pet owner means you build a successful relationship with your pet and honor the responsibilities that comes with raising them. These guidelines are meant to protect your animal and benefit our community. The Pillars of Responsible Pet Ownership are outlined below:
Choosing the Proper Pet
Educating yourself on the pet you are seeking is the first step. Before adopting an animal, you must “do your homework.” Choose the proper pet that suits your lifestyle and ensure it is a match made for life. Not all dogs have the same needs; some will require a great deal of exercise and stimulation, while others may be more laid back but require a great deal of grooming. Be sure you are prepared for the pet you are choosing and do research on the breed to ensure they are good for you and your family. If you have children, make sure you prepare and teach them how to properly interact with the puppy.
To help you find the right match, take our Puppy Matchmaker Quiz.
Where to Get Your Pet
Once you know what you are looking for, the next step is finding them. Many people wonder whether they should adopt or purchase? We believe you should be able to select the puppy of your choice from the place of your choice. Adopt or purchase only from a place willing to take the pet back if things don’t work out because if they are willing to make this guarantee, chances are they will make an effort to find you a suitable match. Click here to learn about our Homes for Life program, where we assume lifetime responsibility for every puppy we sell, in that, if for any reason a customer cannot keep the puppy that they purchased, we will take the puppy back (at any age) and assume the responsibility (free of charge) for finding them a new suitable home.
You may be able to find a breed-specific rescue group that specializes in the dog you want, or you may find a dog that is similar enough to that breed in a rescue organization or shelter. Sometimes you can find purebred puppies and/or dogs in shelters and it never hurts to look if that is what you are seeking. For purebred puppies, most people go to responsible breeders and/or pet stores. Be sure you are working with those who have extremely high standards and put the animals first. Read more about our screening process and standards regarding our breeders here.
Of course, never buy a dog from a seller without meeting them first. Puppy scams have risen to an all time high in 2020 and people often fall victim to these unscrupulous scammers who take your money and never deliver a puppy. Read more about how to spot puppy scams here.
Time, Energy & Love
Your new pet, especially a puppy, will require you to commit a lot of your time, energy and money into them their whole lives. Dogs of all ages will need time to adjust to your home, from potty-training to just getting comfortable in the new environment. It is not an easy process getting your dog adjusted and trained, but you owe it to them to give it your all.
Once you take that baby home, it is your job to love them unconditionally, even when they are naughty!
Commit to routines that provide structure and stability for your dog to ensure they learn the ropes of the household. Too much freedom gives a puppy too much power to learn negative/destructive behaviors. Read here about the “Puppy Umbilical Method” as well as proper crate training procedures.
A responsible pet owner is invested in their dog both financially and emotionally. While you may be able to afford the initial adoption fee, you must also budget for all the food and items you will need to care for your pet as well as potential medical emergencies, professional training, grooming, boarding, etc.
Much like a marriage, adopting a dog means committing to them in sickness and in health. Even if your puppy is healthy as can be, they will need vaccines and check-up appointments. Building a relationship with a trusted veterinarian will help keep you on track. Your veterinarian can guide you on how to address your pet’s hygiene and grooming needs, as well as tackling seasonal issues like fleas, ticks and worms. Check out our list of recommended veterinarians in Arizona. You may also want to consider getting pet insurance to protect your pet. Read more about pet insurance here.
Investing in professional training is extremely beneficial to your relationship with your pet and gives you both that crucial confidence. Well-trained dogs tend to be less anxious, have a closer bond with their owners and are easier to bring around strangers or public spaces. All dogs require training, and it is something you MUST invest time and energy into. Whether you choose to invest money into professional training will be determined by your personal goals, your dog’s needs, and your own skill level. Meet our recommended trainers in Arizona to help get you started.
Training, stimulation, and exercise is not optional for any dog breed. Of course, a German Shepherd Dog is going to have different needs than a Maltese, but all dogs need to be enriched. Responsible pet owners prepare and plan their lives accordingly to meet the needs of their four-legged children.
Dogs want to be engaged with, played with, and some even crave physical affection/snuggles! To have a healthy, happy dog means that you give them the enrichment that they need (Of course, not in excess as to not create co-dependence and separation anxiety).
Socializing your puppy is important to prevent behavioral issues and/or anxiety. This goes beyond simply bringing your puppy around other animals to “socialize” and has more to do with providing them with confidence to experience new things.
It is never too late to socialize a dog, but it is most important to do so when they are between 8 weeks and 4 months of age. Socialization begins with the breeder; as their puppies develop, good breeders allow them to experience safe inside and outside environments, car rides, crates, sounds, smells, and gentle handling.
Proper socialization introduces them to something new, maybe even challenges the dog a little. Good socialization provides a positive experience for the dog and allows for opportunity to learn at a pace they are comfortable with. Doing this can prevent a dog from being fearful of children or of riding in a car, and it will help him develop into a well-mannered, happy companion. Part of socialization is experiencing new environments but be cautious with your field trips. Do not take them out in public spaces until they are fully vaccinated, and even then, don’t just go running to the dog park. Take them places that match your dog’s skill set. Do not take them somewhere that will overwhelm them. Be sure you are prepared to provide your dog an “escape route” if it gets to be too much for them.
Read more about socialization here.
License Your Pet
Not only do your dogs need to be obedient, but so do you! You must follow the local ordinances required to keep your pet. Maricopa County law requires all dogs over three months old to be licensed and vaccinated against rabies. You can license your pet online. Not only is it the law, but the small fee associated is one of the main sources of funding for the shelters of Maricopa County Animal Care & Control that save the lives of 30,000 animals that enter the shelter each year. It also makes your pet safer; licensed dogs enter the MCACC database and help them more quickly reunite you. If your dog is picked up at large by an Animal Control Officer, having a current license and contact information on file means they will be returned directly to you as soon as possible, without having to come into the shelter.
Spay & Neuter
A big part of responsible pet ownership is not committing to pet overpopulation. Preventing your pets from reproducing by getting them spayed or neutered is important not only for this reason, but there are significant health and behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering dogs. Spayed females tend to live longer, healthier lives. Spaying can prevent uterine infections, breast tumors and of course, eliminates their “heat” period. Neutering your male prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Neutered males are also far less likely to have aggressive behaviors or mark.
Of course, we must provide our pets with a safe place to live! Providing your pet with basic necessities should go without saying. Your pets will need access to clean water, nutritious food, and shelter from the elements, preferably within the home. Cats and dogs will live healthier, happier, more rewarding lives when they are treated as full members of the family with us in our homes. Additionally, before bringing a pet home, be sure your premise is secure. Learn how to prepare your backyard for a dog here. Prevent your dog from becoming loose or feral by providing them with a secure, fenced in yard.
In the event that your pet becomes separated from you, they must be identifiable. One safe bet is to have your pet microchipped. A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The chip transmits an identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen. Your microchip must be registered with your up-to-date contact information so you can be contacted in the event they are lost.
It is also important to have your pet wear a collar with a tag that identifies them and provides your contact information so you can easily be reunited!
Beyond being prepared for the pet itself, a responsible pet owner also is prepared for a pet emergency. Be sure you are aware of your emergency pet clinic options for health emergencies. You should also have an evacuation kit assembled with some food and supplies for your pet.
Of course, life is full of surprises, so it is smart to make alternative arrangements in case you are no longer able to care for your pet.
Beyond all, as a pet owner it is your duty to love and cherish your pet. Following these guidelines will help you succeed in safely raising a dog, but it is the love that you give that will make you both the happiest.