Sharing your life with a dog (or dogs) is a big responsibility.
Dogs have graciously abandoned their wild ways to come life with us crazy humans. They’ve done their part and we must do ours.
Once you invite a dog into your home and life you have an obligation to do everything in your power to make dogs feel comfortable and fit into our world, which is so very different than their own. It should be your honor and duty to provide everything your dog needs to be a happy comfortable member of your family.
Since there is so much conflicting information out there regarding what you should and shouldn’t do I thought I would clear things up and lay out the essentials for you.
And so, I present to you The 10 Commandments of Being A Responsible Dog Person.
1. Thou shall provide the rules and structures that dogs need
Your dog not only needs a foundation of structure, but craves it. Rules help your dog understand what is expected of him and what the limitations are. It doesn’t matter what your rules are, just that you have some.
2. Thou shall learn to properly communicate (no, yelling is not communicating)
Although dogs can make word associations, they will never learn our language. You can, however, learn to speak okay dog. Understand that dog’s are non verbal (unlike us) so try to speak less and communicate more like a dog using body language (confident), eye contact (you want to yell and scream, just stare at your dog like your mom used to do when you did something bad as a kid) and physical presence (move into their space to take over resources).
Always make sure all communication is done calmly without anger or frustration.
3. Thou shall not leave your dog in the yard
A fenced in yard is not a babysitter. Dogs left in the yard unattended tend to develop more behavior problems because they’re not being supervised and no one is there to tell them if they’re doing the right thing or making mistakes.
Get out there with them and interact and teach them how to be good boys and girls in the back yard.
4. Thou shall walk your dog
Dogs walk. It’s just what they do. I don’t care how nice your yard is, get them out of it and let them explore the world a little. Walking is good for dogs (and you) for a whole slew of reasons. Dogs not only need the exercise but (more importantly) they need the stimulation of their senses.
It’s also a powerful bonding experience if you do it right. Sharing a nice, structured walk is one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship and get closer to your dog. Do it. More.
5. Thou shall exercise your dog more
We live boring lives compared to what dogs are used to and just because you have responsibilities and stuff to do you still need to find ways to drain your dog’s energy. I’ve never really met someone who’s providing the amount of exercise that their dogs really wants and needs, so whatever you’re doing, find ways to do more.
Remember, a tired dog is a good dog – always.
6. Thou shall not over vaccinate
There’s so many new studies out showing that we’ve been over vaccinating our dogs for years and it’s not okay anymore. Yes, vaccines can save lives, however they can also end your dog’s life early if given too often.
Be smart, do some research and don’t let your vet bully you into getting yearly or unnecessary vaccinations. There now saying that many vaccines given as a puppy protect the dog for life.
7. Thou shall socialize your dog (early and forever)
Lack of socialization is the number one killer of dogs on the planet and the main reason for behavior problems. It’s critical to socialize your puppy with people, dogs and the environment early (starting at 7 weeks) and continually through life.
This is so important because by the time you see the symptoms of lack of socialization, it’s too late.
8. Thou shall put in the time to train
If you don’t teach your dog how to behave, guess how he’ll behave? Like a dog! And you’re not going to like that behavior in our human world. Dogs are great learners and adapters but only if you show them what to do. Invest the time to work with your dog and cash in on those dividends for years to come. Dogs will NOT figure things out on their own.
9. Thou shall not expect your dog to be anything but a dog
No matter how much time you put into training your dog, they will never be perfect. Too many people forget that dogs can’t understand us completely and will occasionally make mistakes – and that’s okay. Expect dogs to occasionally chew something or bark or jump – that’s just dogs being dogs.
Once you accept that and throw out the notion of “the perfect dog,” you’ll enjoy your life with your furry pal much better.
10. Thou shall never take your dog for granted
Here’s the cold reality: your dog’s life is way to short and time tends to fly by way too quickly. I know you have responsibilities and obligations and that sometimes you don’t have time to spend with your dog, but please never forget how special they are and do everything in your power to make the most out of your time together. Dog’s love the simple pleasures in life and you too should be always appreciate the ordinary awesomeness of every moment you have with your dog.
Take a moment every single day to show your dog some love and reflect on how very lucky you are to have them in your life.
There you have it. Those are my top ten things I want you to keep in mind each and every day.
It’s our duty to follow and practice these commandments and do right by our dogs. They deserve it.