Stop and give yourself a much-deserved pat on the back.
Why? Because the fact that you are reading this means you have what it takes to be a responsible pet owner, whohoo!
But wait, how can we say that? Well, not too many people would actually take the time to look up on the internet how they can take better care of their animal friends. More often than not, a huge number of people only cares about the benefits of owning a pet and fails to prepare themselves for the responsibilities of being a pet parent. Lots of kudos and thanks for reading this pet mom or dad!
So You’re Now a Pet Parent, Huh?
You might be thinking. “Whoa, what? Pet Parent? Are you talking to me?”
Well yes, we are talking to you!
If you’re new to pet ownership, you might find yourself at a lost when reading or hearing about being a pet parent. Well, guess what, you ARE a pet parent.
Some people think that being a pet parent simply means dressing up the animal in some cute outfits and basically treating it like a doll but that is not how true pet parents understand the term.
Being a pet parent is a serious commitment which only a few people with a loving heart are capable of. Who else would commit to love, cherish, protect, nourish, and adore another creature for the duration of that creature’s life? Only a parent would!
So how does one become an awesome pet parent? Is there like a guide or some criteria to qualify as a responsible pet owner? You bet there are and we have you covered! In fact, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 Commandments on How To Be A Responsible Pet Owner just for you!
#1 - Thou Shall Respect Your Pet
It may be surprising for you why this is the first in our list of tips (aka commandments) on how to be a responsible pet owner. You see, we fully believe that every pet is different and we also think that having an understanding of that is crucial to being a wonderful pet owner. Why? Because respect develops that way.
Once someone respects their pet, they would care enough to find out more regarding how to best care for it and address its needs. Respecting an animal also means giving the animal enough time to adjust to living with you. Another advantage is that in helps set your expectations to a reasonable level (as shared by animal expert Raquel Hartzell of Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue).
Note that all animals, no matter if they came from a shelter or a rescue should be shown the same level of respect as is given to a fancy pet from an over-priced breeder. Once the animal understands that your role is a loving caregiver and leader, a happy and satisfying animal-human relationship will surely follow!
#2 - Thou Shall Provide Your Pet with Food, Shelter, and Affection
Being a responsible pet owner or pet parent means providing for the animal’s basic needs. That means food, water, shelter, social interaction, and growth. For more about this and other basic pet care responsibilities for new pet parents, see the chapter on Pet Care installment of The Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption series.
#3 - Thou Shall Train and Discipline Your Pet Lovingly
There can be times when some pet parents feels bad about having to discipline their pet, thinking that they may be too harsh. As long as you don’t physically hurt or harm your pet by beating, starving, withholding affection for long periods, and punishing the pet for things it cannot control, then you are in good shape. Animals need structure and you are responsible for providing your pet that structure.
The right way of training and disciplining a pet is by being respectful of its limitations and being consistent with rules. Just remember that compassion and patience go a long way, just the same as what K9 Jack of LongShot Farms, Christa McElroy of Tri Country Collie Rescue, and Bonney Williams of Etosha Rescue and Adoption Center plus several other animal experts have shared with us.
#4 - Thou Shall Protect Your Pet from Harm
Protecting your pet from harm also means pet proofing your home so that the animal cannot eat something or do something that may harm it. This also includes not placing the pet in situations which may cause it harm. Example: If you have a dog, chaining it in the backyard when you live in bear or wolf country is NOT advisable.
Protecting your pet from harm also means pet proofing your home so that the animal cannot eat something or do something which may harm it. This also includes not placing the pet in situations which may cause it harm. Example, if you have a dog, chaining it in the backyard when you live in bear or wolf country is not advisable.
Exercise common sense to be a responsible pet parent and fully protect your pet from harm. What do we mean? If you know that eating too much of a certain food may cause health problems, then stop yourself from giving the pet that food no matter how much it begs.
As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to do the thinking for your pet – and yes, even when it gives you the hard-to-resist puppy-dog eyes!
#5 - Thou Shall Bring Your Pet the Vet for a Checkup When Needed
There is no excuse for not bringing your pet to a vet if something seems off. Sure, finances can be tight sometimes but there are also ways to get around that. Some communities may have free clinics or can offer discounted rates for vet care. At the very least, you would know how your pet is doing by consulting a vet. In case something is indeed wrong, you will at least know which options you have. You may even find it beneficial to try more natural forms of healing such as homeopathic products.
#6 - Thou Shall Strive To Make The Best Choices For Your Pet’s Health
There are so many trends when it comes to pet health that it is often too easy to join the band wagon and go with what’s popular instead of what’s right. To do what’s right, read up, do your research, and try to keep things to a minimum. For example, there is no need to give the pet supplements, vitamins, and some vaccines if they are not mandatory or if there is no real need to begin with. In other words, don’t try to fix what isn’t broken.
We all want our pets to be as healthy as they can be. Oftentimes, the best way to achieve that is to go back to basics and try to stay away from unnecessary procedures like de-clawing, excessive vaccinations, and tail docking and so on. Even modern-medicine approved procedures can do more harm than good in the long run; even more so if they have not been studied extensively to rule out any harmful effects (example of this with some vaccines).
Try to address all aspects of your pet’s health. This means taking care of not just the physical needs but also making sure that the pet gets proper social interaction, play time, and yes, even some learning! Be informed and be open. Be observant and be loving. In the end, what your pet needs is a loving pet parent who would be his or her advocate in every way, especially when it comes to health.
#7 - Thou Shall Ensure That Your Pet Is Spayed or Neutered
Unless you are a breeder, getting your pet spayed or neutered (mostly applicable to cats and dogs) is one of the most important and loving things you can do. There may be people who thinks spaying and neutering is a sort of meddling with how nature intended animals to be but you also have to think of the big picture.
What big picture? Do you know that a huge percentage of shelter and rescue animals are from unregulated breeding by ‘intact’ animals? Are you aware how many millions (yes, MILLIONS!) of cats and dogs are put to sleep every year because shelters and rescues cannot hold them anymore? Do you know that intact animals can sometimes be more vulnerable to certain cancers and behavioral problems? Well, now that you know how important spaying and neutering is, doesn’t it make sense to go for it?
#8 - Thou Shall Ensure Your Pet has Proper Identification
It is inevitable that your pet may get lost at one point in its lifetime (especially true for cats and dogs). To safeguard your pet from totally not finding its way back to your home, have the pet wear a collar with your name and contact details on it. It’s also recommended to have your pet microchipped when possible to do so.
But why the need for the double identification? Well, not everyone would have a microchip reader or would know how to use one. A collar with your details would work so that the people who may find your pet would know how and where to contact you. As Sandra Dollar of Save the Strays Animal Rescue says, “we always recommend a visible ID tag be kept on the dog's collar as the best/first line of defense against loss.”
As for the microchip, it is a valuable piece of identification if you lost a puppy (the puppy is not going to stay a puppy forever). It can also help you reunite with your pet in cases of pet kidnapping or theft because it contains information to prove you’re the rightful pet parent. Just don’t forget to have the microchip registered though or else it would be useless, a friendly reminder from Anne Fifield of Basset Rescue Across Texas.
#9 - Thou Shall Include Your Pet in Future Plans
How would you feel if someone commits to living with you for the rest of your life and then suddenly decides a few weeks, months, or years later that you should be ditched because you don’t fit in that person’s life anymore. Hurts right? Now imagine not being able to do anything about it and facing the possibility of death just because someone failed to think ahead and doesn’t have a plan B so that you can live. Isn’t that unfair? It’s totally ridiculous!
The scenario above is what’s going on everywhere in the world right now. Thousands of animals are being put to sleep or abandoned every day because their pet parents didn’t think of including them in their future plans. You cannot get a cat today and then suddenly decide you must get rid of it in the future because you want to date someone who does not like cats.
Adopting a pet and being a responsible pet parent can mean having to give up some things because your commitment to the pet trumps mere creature comforts. Simply put, don’t commit to anything you have no intention of doing your best to accomplish.
A pet is a huge responsibility. Owning a pet means there are certain things you may not be able to do anymore such as spontaneously taking off for the weekend for some exotic destination, or living in a posh no-pets-allowed condominium.
It takes a special type of person to have the grits and strength of character to honor the unspoken pact which every pet owner has with their pet – a friendship for a lifetime.
As Ashley Pobanz of Foothills Humane Society puts it, a pet means a lifetime of commitment which you can’t just get out of whenever you feel like it. A pet is not something to be discarded just because it chewed your shoe or isn’t cute and cuddly anymore.
#10 - Thou Shall Not Abandon Your Pet
Adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment. It can either be your lifetime or the pet’s lifetime. The point is, having a pet is truly a til death do us part sort of relationship unless very special circumstances warrant that someone else has to take care of the animal (like if you’re in active military service and being deployed somewhere).
As a responsible pet owner, you should understand that you should only adopt a pet if you can fully commit to being a part of its life for as long as you or the animal is alive. As Christine of Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue says about adopting, “Adopt with the intention of forever, no matter what. Know the cost, time and emotional effort may be high but in the end, the rewards are priceless.”
We truly appreciate you taking the time to read this semi ‘guide’ on how to be a responsible pet owner. Truly, you are doing the right thing by reading up on how you can be the best pet parent your pet can have, and we’re sure Fran Filak of A-Parrot to A-Flamingo will agree with us.
Being a pet parent is a privilege and you should be proud of being one. Wear it like a badge of honor (because it IS) and spread the word on how to be a responsible pet parent like yourself!
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