With the shift from summer to fall and the start of football season, September is always a big month. There's the start of school and everything pumpkin spice, but don't forget that this month is also Responsible Dog Ownership Month. It's four weeks dedicated to all the ways you can care for your dogs and improve their lives. So while you're unpacking your scarves and sipping your first PSL of the season, don't forget to make time to practice these essential steps of responsible pup parenting.
1. Head to the Vet
Just like people, dogs need regular medical check-ups to make sure they're healthy and happy. It's generally recommended that dogs see a vet at least once a year. This way you can keep up with your pup's vaccinations and check in on any minor health concerns.
Dogs are experts at hiding pain and discomfort, and your pup might be suffering without you even knowing. Seeing a vet on a regular basis will help you spot those symptoms before the problem progresses. If you can't remember the last time your pup saw a vet, now's the time to make that appointment.
2. Evaluate Your Dog's Diet
It's easy to stop by the store and pick up a bag of whatever kibble is on sale. It's cheap, easy, and convenient, but it's not what's best for your dog. Nutrition is a huge part of your dog's health. A lot of commercial kibble brands use harmful ingredients like unidentifiable meat meal, preservatives, and artificial flavors. Not eating the right diet effects a dog's digestion, immunity, and even their fur.
Your dog's ideal diet will depend on factors including their age, activity level, breed, and overall health. It's best to talk to a vet about what kind of dog food your pup really needs. As a general rule, meals made from whole, organic, and human-grade ingredients are best. If your dog's current diet doesn't meet those standards, Responsible Dog Ownership Month is the perfect time to reevaluate.
3. Revamp Your Exercise Routine
Remember, exercise is about both the body and the mind. A brisk walk down the sidewalk is okay, but after doing the same route multiple times, it's not very exciting for your dog. It's the same sights and smells over again, and some active breeds need more than a short walk to really get their blood pumping.
This month, why not try out different forms of exercise for your dog? Fetch is always a great option for those ball-loving dogs, and games like tug and chase are good fun too. If you're ready for the next level, you can even teach your dog a new skill. Try out an agility class, nosework, or lure coursing. You could train your dog to run alongside your bike or go on a hike. Any of these ideas will get your dog excited to exercise. Just remember to consider your pup's fitness level before starting a new activity.
4. Kickstart Training
Most dog owners (the good ones at least) start off their doggy relationships with at least some form of training. We teach our pups the basics, like sit and shake, and some of us move on to things like "heel" and "come." We start off with the best intentions, but as time passes, we get complacent. Training time gets replaced with TV time, and our dogs stick with what they know and don't learn anything new.
Life is busy, but both you and your dog will benefit from continual training. Don't stop at the basics. Training makes your dog safer, better behaved, more social, and it's great for your friendship. Dogs should keep up their training throughout their entire lives. They're never too old to learn a new skill.
5. Spoil That Pampered Pup
This one should be easy. Responsible Dog Ownership Month is your perfect excuse to show your pampered pooch exactly how much you care. Think about what your pup likes best and treat them to something super special.
How about a puppicino from Starbucks? Or maybe your adventure dogs loves nothing more than going on hikes. Even an extra five minutes of your undivided attention will make your dog happy. So go ahead--buy the best organic dog treats, splurge on a new toy, and rub that belly. Your dog deserves it!
How are you celebrating Responsible Dog Ownership Month? Let us know in the comments!