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Be Responsi-Bull

By Hannah Powell For The Dog Files

This is supposed to be a column about pit bulls, but responsible dog ownership should be a priority for every dog owner. Whether your best friend is a tiny Chihuahua or a giant Great Dane, you are responsible for his or her actions and care.

What does it mean to be a responsible dog owner? In my previous articles, I have talked about responsible dog ownership, but I would like to describe what it means in more detail. I discuss four areas of responsibility below.

You and Your Dog: Some have described dogs as “parasites”. They live in the host’s home and use up resources, offering nothing in return. I see things much differently! Dogs offer unconditional love and companionship; I cannot imagine life without these so-called “parasites”. We owe it to our dogs to provide all the care necessary to ensure his or her life is happy and healthy.

Adopting a dog or puppy is a huge commitment. Money, time and energy should all be considered BEFORE getting a dog. Dogs are expensive. They require time. They require exercise at the end of a long workday. Thousands of dogs end up in shelters across the country because their owners did not consider these things.

Dogs and People: Let’s face it; some people do not like Man’s Best Friend. As dog owners, it is our responsibility to respect this. In turn, we may gain the respect of someone who may be fearful of dogs or dislikes dogs. Follow scoop laws, follow leash laws, and respect other people’s space. Dogs need to be under control at all times when in public.

Dogs and Children: I know some people may disagree, but dogs and young children should never be left alone together. This could be a recipe for disaster, no matter how friendly the dog may be. So many dog attacks on children have occurred when the dog and child were left unsupervised.

All children should be taught to respect dogs, not fear them. People need to teach their children to ask before petting a dog. Some dogs are not okay with children. They should also know how to respond to an attacking dog. If you are unsure what to do in this situation, there are several Internet sites that can be helpful.

Dogs and Other Dogs: A sunny Saturday at the dog park can be quite an experience for dogs and humans alike. There can be tens to hundreds of dogs running around chasing tennis balls and each other. Big dogs, tiny dogs, fluffy dogs and barking dogs are all thrown in together to play. It all comes down to knowing your dog and knowing the other dogs. Obviously, no one will know all the other dogs, but most people trust other dog owners to have a well-rounded, well-socialized pooch. Sadly, this is not always the case, and there have been several unfortunate accidents at dog parks across the country.

Why Be A Responsible Dog Owner? As a pit bull owner, I constantly talk about being a responsible dog owner. If ALL dog owners took it upon themselves to be responsible, think of the positive outcome for both dogs and people. Teaching people about responsible dog ownership and enforcing it is a better alternative than Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Breed bans are never the answer. The saying holds true; “There are no bad dogs, just bad owners”.

Hannah PowellHannah lives in Issaquah, WA with her husband, two dogs, and a parrot. She runs a dog walking/pet sitting business and volunteers her time to local dog rescue groups. In her spare time she enjoys skiing, hiking with her dogs, and camping. The experience of pit bull ownership has been her motivation for writing about this wonderful and misunderstood dog breed. Please check out Busybark for more about Hannah and her love of dogs.