Chances are, if you own a dog, you love your dog. However, “tender love & care” is a phrase for a reason. Care & Love should go hand in hand, or hand in paw if you will. As a friendly welcome to September, Best Bully Sticks wants to remind you of some of the easy ways to be a caring and loving dog owner. After all, September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month!

Commitment
Having a dog should be a lifelong relationship. As with any relationship, thinking ahead and making future plans is always important. The first time your dog gets sick in the house, tears up an heirloom or starts shedding like crazy, are you going to rethink your decision? Having a dog means nursing them back to health, dealing with their puppy habits and training them correctly, and dealing with their quirks. If you love your dog, love them for a lifetime.

Spay & Neuter
Getting your dog “fixed” is highly recommended by any vet, activist or concerned citizen you meet. Pet overpopulation is a serious problem and millions are euthanized every year. Do your part. If you’re not the solution, you might be the problem.

Make Time
Your dog isn’t a houseplant. You can’t buy and then forget about him. Spend time with your dog. Learn his habits, his weird tendencies, play and train him; this will lead to bonding and mutual respect. Remember, while you’re away, your dog is waiting for you to return. A dog is more than an obligation, however, and should always be one of your top priorities.

Health
Keeping your dog healthy means a few different things. First, make sure your dog stays current with his shots and has a yearly veterinarian checkup. Dogs hide pain and illness well; so going to the vet can alert you to any potential problems.

Good health also means feeding your dog a complete, balanced diet that is suited to your dog’s age and size. Paying attention to what is in your dog’s food is key as well. It should also be said: make sure you provide your dog with plenty of fresh, clean water.

Exercising with your dog is also very important. Most dogs could sleep the day away, but when given the chance, dogs love to romp, roam and be a little crazy. Dogs need exercise to maintain a healthy weight, work muscles and maintain a good physical form.

Grooming and bathing are also a part of good doggy heath. If you don’t know how to properly groom your dog, ask your vet or take your dog to a local groomer. For most dogs a daily or weekly brushing is a good start. How often you bathe your dog is dependant on a few factors, but just remember dogs do need baths! Don’t exclude a dog’s teeth either! Chewing on a bully stick is a great way to clean a dog’s teeth!

Identification
Proper identification is great way to safeguard your dog. Your dog should always wear a collar with up-to-date identification. If your dog ever gets away from you or your home, current information could be the difference in having your dog returned. Micro-chipping is another great way to protect your dog.

Training
Your dog doesn’t have to be an amazing “trick” dog, but they must learn to listen and obey their owners. Obedience training is beneficial for your dog, you and others. Training won’t necessarily be easy, but behavior issues are kept at bay if your dog knows you’re in charge. Also, a well socialized and well behaved dog is less likely to cause any problems in a public place. Don’t be the owner with the “brat” of a dog.

Respect
Being a responsible dog owner also means being a respectful dog owner. So remember:

-Don’t be a jerk and obey the law. Yes, not picking up your dog’s poop is annoying to others and in most places, is against the law. Keep a doggy bag roll attached to your leash at all times.

-When on a walk, keep your dog on a leash. There might be people in your neighborhood that might not enjoy being greeted by Fido! Also, other dogs may not be as well adjusted as your pooch, so keeping your dog on a controlled leash is the best way to share a public space with other people and pups.

-A barking dog is normal, but prolonged barking in an apartment complex or neighborhood could have a negative effect on your neighborly relationships. See: training (above).

Being a responsible dog owner is important if you and your dog are going to be good members of society. Show the world that you are the epitome of what a good dog owner looks like. Likewise, prove that Fido is the new face of good dogs everywhere.

Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Month!