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  Responsible Dog Owner

An introduction in being a responsible dog owner

It's easy enough to get a dog. The hard part is following through with proper care. Here are some basic suggestions for responsible dog ownership:

People who own dogs have to take responsibility for keeping both their dogs and neighbors -- and neighbors' pets -- safe from one another. A dog that gets loose once can not be blamed on a mistake -- a gate left open, a fence that had a weak spot. A dog that is loose regularly has an owner that either does not care or does not understand what's at stake.

Understand that dogs are dogs. Dogs chase cats, chickens and other small animals, and sometimes they kill them. They have what's called a prey drive, an instinct crucial to their survival as a species. Dogs can also be protective of their territory and attack “intruders”. If they are running loose, their territory can be a whole neighborhood. Obviously the bigger and stronger a dog, the more damage it can do because of its instinct to chase or to protect its territory.

Furthermore, especially dogs of so called “gladiator breeds” are known for their love to rumble with other dogs, and this can cause a lot of trouble especially in countries that enforce Breed Specific Legislation. Responsible ownership, good knowledge of the dog, anticipation and the skill to break up a fight as effective as possible (we recommend the proper use of a break stick).

Responsible dog ownership requires these simple rules:

1. A dog on a leash can be controlled. A dog running free can not.

2. Good fences make good neighbors when it comes to dogs. Check for weaknesses in fences. When no one is home, dogs should be kept in secure areas. If your dog digs, consider building a strong kennel and putting in a hard floor or chicken wire under the dirt floor.

3. Spend time with your dog. Dogs that are socialized to people and new situations are less likely to cause problems, even if they should get loose.

4. Invest in the proper veterinary care for your dog.

5. Spay or Neuter your dog to prevent unwanted litter of puppies. However, remember that this is not the answer for everything and eliminates a dog form a (potential) breeding program.

6. License and Register your dog and obey the dog/leash laws in your community. This is of special importance with breeds that are enforced under Breed Specific Legislation, for example the Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs to have a FCI pedigree combined with a matching implanted chip in the Netherlands, in addition to the general rules for dogs.

7. Respect the fact that not everyone likes dogs - your dog may be friendly but your neighbor doesn't know and may not care to know.

These aren't complicated provisions, but only the pet's owner can execute them. Please take responsibility for your dog.

This will help you and others to enjoy your dog for a long time.

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