Being a responsible dog owner includes caring for the health, safety, enrichment, and training of a dog. If you are considering taking in a furry friend into your life, here are 21 things to contemplate and consider before bringing a puppy home.


1. It’s a long-term commitment


Taking care of a dog is a serious commitment. It’s like any kind of relationship you have in your life. You need to dedicate time, energy, finances, and emotions not just for a few months but at least a decade (depending on the dog’s age).


2. Evaluate your lifestyle


Do you have a job? Do you work nights or weekends? Do you work on the road? Do you own a house? Are you renting? Will your landlord let a pet in your apartment? Do you have kids? Do they have allergies? These are the things you need to know before getting a pet.


3. Make a list


Based on your evaluation, what attributes do you want in a dog? You need to consider the size, energy level, grooming needs, trainability, and temperament. If you live with kids and other animals, are there restrictions on height, weight, or breed? These are the questions you need to answer now because it can be devastating to realize you made the wrong choice later on.

basket of puppies


4. Get referrals to responsible breeders


Ask other dog owners or go on online forums to get leads on responsible and ethical breeders in your area. Don’t be discouraged if the first breeder you talk to doesn’t have puppies available right away. Do not go to a pet shop or puppy mill. You can ask these breeders for other breeders in their network to help you out.


5. Get it in writing


There has to be a contract about the sale or adoption of your new puppy. It has to include details about fees, health guarantees, terms of co-ownership, and living arrangements. It should also include instructions on what to do if the dog simply doesn’t work out for your family. Responsible breeders will even insist that you return the dog when this happens.


6. Get your papers


If you live in the States, you must ask the breeder for an American Kennel Club registration application when you purchase the puppy. Make sure the breeder fills out all the sections and signatures. Breeders can also help accomplish the forms correctly.


7. Register your dog


Submit your application to the AKC so your dog will become part of the largest registry of purebred dogs in the U.S. If you rescue a dog, you should sign up for a Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege number too.


dog toys


8. Buy the necessities


Even before bringing home your new dog home, you must buy the necessary items like food, treats, accessories, grooming tools, and other dog accessories. Having a dog is just like having a new baby—everything must be prepared ahead of time.


9. Make a schedule


You have an entire life outside of being a fur parent. But your new pet needs to follow a routine. Talk to your family or partner who will be responsible for food, water, walks, exercise, clean up, vet visits, and grooming on particular days.


10. Puppy-proof your house


Similar to having a baby, you should secure your entire home to accommodate a new pup. You must move or replace your breakables. You should build shelves and put locks on your prized possessions. You should also block off any off-limits rooms in your house as well as hide electrical cords and other potentially toxic stuff like plants and kitchen supplies.


11. Set boundaries


The same thing goes for the space outside your home; be it a garden or a yard. Make sure the gate and the fences are secure so your dog won’t wander off and get lost. If you don’t have these, keep your pups on a leash outdoors.


12. Select a veterinarian


Like a new parent looking for a pediatrician before their baby is born, you should get yourself acquainted with a veterinarian ahead of time. This way, you’ll be ready to come in for a visit soon after your dog arrives. Your vet should have copies of your dog’s health records, plus you should agree on a vaccination and check-up schedule.


dog and mom training bad habits


13. Housetrain


Research and subscribe to a method of housetraining. Whichever you choose, make sure everyone in your household enforces it consistently. You can also seek the services of local and online trainers if you are new to this.


14. Set house rules


As early as now, you should train your dog on what is and what is not appropriate behavior. Their combination of effortless cuteness and puppy eyes will make you think about letting some things slip from time to time. This is a big no-no and may lead to bigger problems in the future. Consistency is important to being a responsible dog owner.


15. Stick to a healthy diet


The phrase “you are what you eat” doesn’t just apply to humans, it works for dogs too. That means you should not be feeding your pets substandard food. Ask your breeder or your vet what food is best for your pet. Their diet will usually depend on their age, size, and activity level. Find what is the best food out there and then stick to that diet.


16. Exercise


You should set aside time for some doggy workout too. It could be as simple as a walk in the park, swimming, or letting them run around in the yard. You need to bring their energy levels down to ensure good health and avoid bad behavior.


dog vaccinations


17. Vaccinate


This is important: make sure that your pet is up-to-date on his shots and keep a copy of his medical records on your phone.


18. Bathe your dog


This sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by the number of owners who forget to wash their dogs. There are many good and natural products you can use to clean and groom your pup. If all else fails, take him to a groomer.


19. Groom your dog


In addition to bathing, you should also brush, trim, condition, and groom your best friend. You can always go to a professional if you are too busy or unable to do it yourself for any reason whatsoever.


20. Get your dog microchipped


Doing so makes your pet easier to identify or track if ever he gets lost. You can also put practical and important information there such as health records and other personal information.


dog on video call with mom


21. Establish an emergency contact


You should enlist one of your family members or close friends to be your dog’s emergency contact in case you are not around. This is important for those unexpected trips to the vet and other emergencies.


We don’t need constant reminders on how to be a good dog owner because some things just come naturally or are common sense. But we hope the list above will guide you or a friend to being a responsible dog owner.

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