February has been designated National Responsible Pet Owner’s Month, complete with a Facebook page dedicated to promoting the idea. Here are a few tips you can pass along to help others understand what responsible pet ownership is all about:
Nope, I will never, ever stop putting this item at the top of the list. It’s that important. Perhaps you missed the story in The Bakersfield Californian about the nearly 19,000 companion animals killed in our shelters last year, but the only way we’re going to get those numbers down is to reduce the number of pets being born. Need help finding reduced cost programs, including one where pitties can be altered for as little as $15? Head over to the website of Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation and click on “Spay Neuter Options”. There you will find downloadable documents for reduced cost resources in English and Spanish. Feel free to print them out and share, share, share.
A pet that has identification is a pet who has a great shot of making it home should they become lost. Put an ID tag on them, get them licensed, have them micro-chipped (and register the chip after it’s been implanted) or do all three. Check out some of the offerings from companies like Home Again or Blanket ID (thanks, Gus!) that offer tags complete with alert systems should your pet go missing. Make your pet easy to get back to you should you become separated. And no more of this, “I don’t have to worry because they never get out” stuff. Gates get left open every day. Fence boards break. Emergencies happen. I’ve heard several people say that they will always stop for a loose dog who has a collar and tags, because they know the dog must be someone’s pet.
Enroll in a class, watch videos from trainers you respect, read a few books --- find a positive method that you can relate to and use it to train your pet. Training is far more than just bending an animal to do what you want it to. Training provides a common language for communicating with your pet, creates opportunities for bonding and promotes a secure, loving relationship. When a pet understands their role and expectations within a family system through consistent, positive leadership they can blossom into the loyal, devoted pet you dreamed of when you signed the adoption papers. Make sure you give them that chance. Need help finding a trainer or learning about training methods? Head to the American Association of Pet Dog Trainers website for more information.
A clean pup is a happy pup and frequently makes for a happy owner, too. Bathing is an excellent time for you to carefully check your dog for scratches, bumps, lumps or hitchhikers while providing another opportunity to get in some bonding time. Unless your pet goes in for regular (as in “monthly”) grooming, a regular bath is in order. Not sure how to properly bathe your dog? Know how to do it but hate the mess? Give Self Serve Pet Spa a try. The tubs are terrific, the owners are wonderful and when you’re done scrubbing your pup, you can leave the mess behind.
But you already knew this one, didn’t you?
*column for the Bakersfield Voice