9 Ways to Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month

| Richard Rowlands

September is National Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Celebrate your pup by maintaining their health and happiness with these 9 exercise, hygiene, and diet tips.

akc comparison - header

September is National Responsible Dog Ownership Month, a month designated by the American Kennel Club to raise awareness of the responsibility that dog owners play in the lives of their pups.

To be a responsible pet owner means giving your dog the best life possible and making sure that all of their needs are met, often going above and beyond for your pup. In honor of this month, here are 9 ways you can be a more responsible dog owner.

1. Schedule Regular Wellness Visits for Your Dog

Regular vet visits are the best way to monitor your dog's health. You'll stay well informed about your dog's growth, their weight, and any potential health risks they have, and you'll be able to catch and start treatment for any health conditions early.

Regular wellness visits also help you stay up to date with your dog's vaccination schedule. Up-to-date vaccinations are the best way to protect your pup from common illnesses and keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.

2. Feed Your Dog a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Your dog's diet and nutrition have a huge impact on their overall health and well-being. Your dog should be eating all the nutrients they require and only the recommended daily calories they need to maintain a healthy weight.

The right diet for your dog will differ based on their breed, size, and health needs, so it's important to check with a vet or dog nutritionist before making any changes.

They can also recommend the right feeding schedule for your dog – most often it's recommended to split your dog's food into two or three meals spread out throughout the day.

3. Give Your Pup Plenty of Exercise

Exercise plays as big a role in your dog’s overall health as their nutrition. Physical activity affects not just your dog's physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well.

Since the amount of exercise your dog needs will be based on their age, breed, and size, be sure to clear any changes in their daily routine with your vet. Some dogs are best suited to a simple walk through the neighborhood, while other dogs need more rigorous exercise routines. Knowing and meeting your dog's specific needs is an important part of responsible dog ownership.

4. Provide Your Dog with Mental Enrichment

Physical exercise isn't the only activity that your dog needs throughout the day. Mental enrichment helps to channel your four-legged friend's energy and combat boredom.

When dogs are bored or looking for stimulation, many will turn to destructive behaviors, like chewing the furniture, as a way to burn off that pent-up energy. Mental enrichment challenges your dog's brain and puts that energy to good use.

Enrichment activities can be anything from taking your dog for a sniff walk or filling a food puzzle with tasty treats, to simply playing a game of hide-and-seek in the living room.

5. Maintain Healthy Hygiene Habits

Dental cleanings, nail trimmings, and regularly brushing your dog's coat are all key ways to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Brushing your dog's teeth at least three times per week is recommended, but an additional annual dental cleaning with their vet is the best way to fight common dental diseases.

Regular nail trimmings are also important. If your dog's nails get too long, they can lead to injuries or painful joint issues. Trim your dog's nails every 3-4 weeks, depending on how quickly they grow. A good rule of thumb is that their nails should never touch the ground.

6. Prevent Fleas and Ticks with Regular Preventatives

Common parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms can lead to dangerous, even deadly, health conditions for dogs. Thankfully, these parasites and their accompanying conditions are highly preventable.

Talk to your vet to find the best preventative option for your dog. Many flea and tick preventatives are given as topical treatments, while heartworm preventatives are typically in pill form. Sticking to a regular schedule with these medications will help keep your dog safe from these stubborn parasites.

7. Be Prepared in Case of Emergencies

Being a responsible dog owner isn't just about your dog's day-to-day needs. It's also important to prepare for their needs in case of an emergency.

Put together a dog first aid kit to keep in your home and your car, so you're prepared for any potential medical emergency. It's also important to keep your veterinarian's number handy, as well as the number of local emergency vets.

In addition to a first aid kit, you'll also want to have a plan in place in case of a natural disaster. If for any reason you need to evacuate your home, make sure you know of a dog-friendly hotel you can stay in with your pup or identify an emergency caretaker.

8. Provide Your Dog with Training

While training your dog to do tricks can be a fun bonding activity for both of you, training basic commands is an important safety precaution. Teaching your dog to have a reliable recall, as well as basic commands like sit and stay, can help keep them safe in uncertain situations.

Training your dog is also great mental enrichment, especially if you have a working breed that loves to exercise or have a job to do.

9. Keep Your Dog's Safety in Mind

Your dog's safety should always be top priority whether you're at home or out and about.

One of the best ways to keep them safe is to make sure they’re microchipped, and that all personal information on the microchip is up to date. If your dog should ever wander off, a microchip gives you a greater chance of being reunited.

Another key way to keep your dog safe is to dog-proof your home and backyard. Make sure that toxic plants, foods, and other dangerous items around your home are all out of your pup's reach.

If you have a backyard, you should also make sure that your fence is secure with no loose boards or holes where your dog can escape.

Are You a Responsible Dog Owner?

Being a dog owner isn't always easy, but it's one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. This September, take time to think about and celebrate all the ways that you're making a difference in your dog's life by being a responsible dog owner. It's also a great opportunity to consider what you can do to make your dog's life even better.

Take some of the stress out of pet ownership with Accident & Illness Coverage from AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company). Our pet insurance plans are designed to be there when you need them, allowing you to focus more on the health of your pet and less on costly veterinary bills. Click here for a quote today!

richard rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Richard has shared his life with pets since childhood, and currently has a rescue cat and dog. He works with veterinarians and pet businesses to improve their content. To find out more, please visit his [website](https://richardrowlands.com/).