|Zoe - The Windham Eagle office dog.|
The American Kennel Club (AMC) officially recognizes the third weekend in September as “Responsible Dog Ownership” day. Although the intention of such a ‘celebration’ is to bring about awareness of pet accountability and safekeeping, one might assume that such a day should not be necessary if an individual makes a well-thought out decision to have a pet in their life.
The topic of responsible dog ownership has come to the attention of the Windham Town Council, creating agenda item discussions on procedures, ordinances and legalities in terms of local law enforcement’s legal capability to enforce such regulations.
The Town Council is working together with Windham Police Department (WPD) to establish a set of ordinances that are in accordance with state laws, working on exact specifications with the intention of giving the WPD a certain level of enforcement capability in the matter.
Shannon Oliver, owner of Doggie Daycare in Raymond provided a few tips regarding responsible pet ownership. “In regard to the winter months, breeds that have thicker coats, including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Huskies and Malamutes can hold body heat for up to an hour at a time,” explained Oliver. “Short coated dogs, however, – once they start lifting their paws, usually after about 25 minutes in the outdoors, it is time for them to go indoors.”
Oliver also mentioned that starting flea and tick protection should have begun about a month ago. “And it crucial for dogs to have a heartworm preventative program once the mosquitoes are out. If heartworm goes untreated it can cause death.”
As for heat in the summer months, – breeds such Boxers, Boston Terriers and Pugs can overheat quickly. But for almost all dogs, a 70-degree day without shade can cause overheating. “It’s also imperative to watch out for dogs’ paws,” Oliver began. “Dogs sweat through their paws and when they walk on hot pavement, this too can cause overheating and blistering.”
For those who may be considering pet ownership - below is a small list of what it takes to be responsible as well as the many issues one should consider before becoming a parent to our four-legged counterparts. The list was compiled by the AKC. To view the full list: www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/responsible-dog-owner/
Before deciding that a dog is right for you, make an honest assessment: are you ready for the financial, emotional, and time commitment owning a dog requires?
2. Evaluate your lifestyle
Think about the type of dog that will best suit your lifestyle. Evaluate all aspects of your family’s life — hobbies, activities, personalities — before choosing a breed.
3. Make a list
Based on your evaluation, what qualities do you want in a dog? Consider size, energy level, grooming needs, trainability, and temperament. If you rent an apartment, are there restrictions on height, weight, or breed? Answer these questions now, because once you bring a dog home, it can be heartbreaking to realize you made the wrong choice.
4. Consider an older dog
Puppies aren’t for everyone. If an older dog better fits your lifestyle, check the AKC Rescue Network. Most rescue dogs have been spayed or neutered and are screened for health and temperament issues.
5. Skip the holidays
Most breeders don’t recommend giving dogs as a present. A new puppy needs your undivided attention, which is difficult during the holiday season. A better idea is to give dog-related gifts — toys, leashes, grooming tools — and then bring your puppy home when all of the excitement has died down.
6. Dog-proof your house
Prepare your home before your new dog arrives. Move breakables or “chewables” to higher ground. Make electrical cords inaccessible to curious paws and noses. Block off any area of the house that’s off-limits. Block access to any house or garden plants that are toxic to dogs.
7. Set a containment policy
Make sure the yard is securely fenced or that you have a run for your dog. If that’s not possible, keep in mind that your pup will need to be on a leash outdoors.
8. Make a bed
Create a comfortable area — whether a crate, a dog bed, or a pile of blankets — for your dog to go to when he needs rest or privacy.
9. Select a veterinarian
Choose a veterinarian ahead of time, so you’ll be ready for a visit soon after your dog comes home. Give your vet copies of the dog’s health records, and set up a vaccination and check-up schedule.
10. Feed him a healthy diet
Your breeder or vet can suggest food that is best for your dog’s age, size, and activity level. Keep the diet consistent. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water.
Take your dog for walks, play games, run in the yard, throw a ball around — anything to stimulate his mind and body.
12. Take walks
Your dog will enjoy exploring the neighborhood and he’ll benefit from the exercise.
13. Set a good example
As a dog owner, you are responsible not only for your own dog’s wellbeing, but for the status of dogs everywhere. Owning a friendly, clean, well-mannered dog reflects positively on the species.
14. Respect your neighbors
Not everyone will love your dog as much as you do. Keep your dog on your property. Don’t force your dog’s company on a neighbor who isn’t comfortable with dogs.