Responsible Pet Parenting

 Aradhana Pandey
What does pet parenting means?

As we like to see our children grow to be a disciplined and cultured lot, the same is true for our pets.  We put a lot of efforts in parenting our children to ensure their desired upbringing.  The same is required for our pet to transform them into a healthy, disciplined and cultured one.  For this transformation, responsible pet parenting is essential.

Why is right pet parenting essential?

Adopting a pet does not ensure that he is going to
inherit all the breed characteristics.  Exploiting the genetic potential depends on its upbringing, thereby comes the role of pet parenting.

It is to be understood that as per the breed dogs possess different characters. For eg. German Shephard, Rottweillers, Doberman, have a natural instinct to guard hence are more aggressive, Labradors are docile with good sniffing characters, Cocker spanial and Dashound are a hyperactive lot and so forth and so on. 

Since the basic breed characters cannot be changed, it becomes very important to pick a breed with the desired characters.  Once selected a right breed, the role of pet parenting comes into play to exploit the breed characteristics.  A misguided or ill trained dog, even of a very friendly characteristics becomes a nuisance at times.    

The Human-Animal Bond

Having pets makes you feel good, both physically and mentally.  Many medical studies have shown that pet owners have lower stress levels and fewer heart attacks. 

If you have a dog or cat, you always have someone to come home to and your furry friend will never tell your boss all the horrible things you said after a particularly bad day at the office. 

It should come as no surprise that researchers have found that petting and talking to a companion animal actually reduces blood pressure.

Many retirement facilities and hospitals bring in pets for visits or have a pet at the facility.  Animal assisted therapy is being used for more health issues than ever before. 

Guide dogs continue to help the blind, but now assistance dogs also help deaf humans, the physically handicapped, and people with epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other afflictions.

Sometimes pet problems are people problems

Many “dog problems” stem from a lack of understanding.  Many people approach pet ownership as something akin to owning a car: if it’s broken take it to be fixed.  If it has too many problems, you return it to a dealer or sell it.

This “pets are disposable” attitude is why so many dogs end up in rescue groups and animal shelters.  It’s tragic because almost all problems can be solved with a little patience and understanding.  A dog is a dog.  It is not a small human, and expecting it to behave like one is unfair. 

Every pet is an individual and you have to work within the limitations of the animal’s personality.  All pets in the household need to learn the rules, but the humans need a few rules too. 

Your pet loves you and the best thing you can do is love him in return.  Like any family member, you learn to live with a few foibles because the companionship and love you receive is worth it. 

Time and Patience

To own a dog, the two most important things you need to have are time and patience.  You need time and patience for feeding your dog every day, housebreaking him, brushing him, walking him, taking him to a vet, playing with him, training him, and most importantly for loving him. 

All this has to happen whether you feel like it or not.  So if you are considering getting a dog, first be honest with yourself. 

Kids and Pets

If you are thinking about getting a pet and you have children, it may be time to step back and evaluate your kids’ attitude toward animals.  Many children have never had any guidelines as to the proper rules for dealing with animals. 

Some kids run up to the animals recklessly and other shy away in fear when they encounter one.  Learning respect for animals should be a big part of growing up, but the increasing number of dog bite incidents is clear evidence that parent’s aren’t telling kids what they need to know. 

Start teaching your kids about animals at an early age.  Show them how to listen and learn about their animal compatriots.  Teach your child to be gentle.  You might show them how to stoke an animal gently on a stuffed animal first, and then graduate to a friend’s pet that you know is very gentle. 

Be sure to teach your child not to chase or hit any animal.  A kid that is taught to care about animals learns that animals and people are living things that should not be treated violently.  If you plan to get a pet, have your child help you research breeds and learn how to take care of new pet. 

Explain that owning an animal is a lifetime commitment and point out that the animals should not be treated as disposable “throw away” toys.  Show your kids the importance of having the pet as a family member, but don’t expect small children to take full responsibility for caring for an animal. 

Getting a pet is a fantastic opportunity for education.  Kids that have been taught to respect animals learn to look at the world around them in a more humane, caring way.  And who wouldn’t want that for their kids.

Think about the Pets

Life is full of changes and if you don’t think your pet notices, well, you are wrong.  Many times behaviour problems in pet can be traced to changes in their home life.  After all, they live there too. 

Major life events such as death, separation, or divorce cause a great deal of emotional distress and pets pick up on it and become anxious.  If people suddenly start shouting and arguing with one another, it has effect on every creature in the house.  

What’s a working person to do?

We have all seen dogs left outside all day to fend for themselves or chained to a doghouse, presumably while their owners are at work.  Less obvious are those dogs that are left at home all day trapped in a crate. 

Dogs are social animals and when they are left alone for hours everyday, behavior problems may occur.  But even dogs that spend a lot of their time with their owners can end up with behavioral issues when the owner goes out. 

Unfortunately, this type of destruction, barking, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and anxiety are all potential results of social deprivation and boredom.  Even though all dogs were bred to do some type of work, too many of them are forced to spend their days doing nothing at all. 

As with your little kids, if you don’t give a dog something to do, she will find something to do.  And it would be undoubtedly be something you won’t like.  As with your children, someone needs to be in charge. 

Dogs feel more secure when they have a set routine and a clear leader.  That leader should be you.  The answer is to provide a stable environment with clear ground rules.  If you aren’t the one in charge now, it’s time to start exercising some leadership. 

For example, when you leave the house, never make it a big production.  Just go.  It’s an ordinary event for you and it should be for the dog.  If your comings and goings have turn into a massive emotional situation, you need to tone it down. 

Owning a dog when you have a job is not impossible.  But when you’re home, be sure to give your dog lots of love and exercise.  After all, a tired dog is a good dog.

Tips for Responsible Pet Parenting

It starts with bringing home a pup with the desired breed characters.

Ensure that the pup is brought from a recognized breeder or vet to avoid genetic defects and health problems.

Before entry of pet in the house, you need to make provision for his place, bed, feed and water etc.

You should be sure of free and restricted area in the house for the pup.  The pup should not be allowed the access to the restricted area from day one.  If you do not like the pet to come on the sofa or bed, avoid getting him there from the very beginning.

Fix the timings, place and bowl for feeding and do not expose him to the other stuffs being eaten by you.

Expose the pup to the food that is healthy for him and do not feed scraps.

Pups normally relieve after meals if diet schedule is followed.  Take the pup to the place where you want him to relieve.  Repeat this for a few days, following which the pup gets accustomed to this routine.

Do not beat or scold a dog unnecessarily.  Speaking in a high pitch commanding tone is enough, if he has done some mistake.

Children and other members of the house should get familiar to the pet as a part of socializing. 

Playing with the pet is good but he should not be over bothered so as to irritate him.

Develop a bond with the pet by patting, massage, grooming and playing since the dogs love these things.

Involve the pet is constructive activities and not the destructive ones.

Train the pet for all commands you would like to follow him and make use of these commands regularly.

Train the pet to remain at home even in your absence.  This can be done by leaving him for short duration to begin with that is gradually extended.

Encourage for good habits and discourage for bad habits from the very first day.

Avoid accidents by not taking out the pet loose.

Avoid chances of poisoning by keeping such substances out of reach of pet.

It is often our mistake and not the pet problem that results in a misbehaved pet putting strain on our relationship with him.  Rather than a friendship bond, it leads to stranded relationship, with each one wanting to get rid of the other. 

Watch out for your responsibilities before adopting a pet and behave like a responsible pet parent. 

The bond between you and your pet will blossom beyond imagination as your pet gives you back much more than what he receives from you.  He sees you as your mentor and will follow the path laid by you.

By: Dr. Aradhana Pandey

(Dr. Aradhana Pandey, is owner of Doggy World, an exclusive center catering to all dog needs.  Apart from clinical practice, she specializes in dog grooming, dog behavior and nutrition.) 

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