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Be the leader of your pack: Responsible Dog Ownership

You are the leader of your pack and you are responsible for your dogs, safety, happiness and health. Your dog depends on you for all these things and in return will show you their devotion, loyalty and friendship.

Are you fulfilling all of your obligations to your dog? The least of these is food and shelter. Health and Happiness are just as important.

Choose a breed that is compatible with your lifestyle. If you are an outdoorsmen you need a dog better suited for a sporty life of hiking trails, gundog activity, or water sports.

Choose a reputable breeder. Ethical breeders are more concerned over quality, good health and stable temperament. Ask Questions of your breeder and expect them to ask you questions about your home life and lifestyle. Be prepared to wait on your new pup, responsible breeders have planned breeding schedules and often have waiting list for their pups. A good dog is worth waiting for!

Be prepared for your pups arrival. Have all the supplies ready before you bring your dog home; food, treats, bedding, collar, leash, toys, grooming tools and necessities. Make a schedule, that includes the whole family with the duties and who is responsible for food, water, walking and exercise, clean up and grooming. The whole family is to be included in the pack!

Dog proofing is just as important as baby proofing. Move those breakables/chewables. Make electrical cords inaccessible to curious paws and noses. Block off any areas that are off-limits to curious paws. Put the toilet seat down, keep shoes in the closet. Don't allow access to house or garden plants that may be toxic to your dog. Have some type of containment plan; fenced in yard, large dog run or invisible fence, or leashed at all times when outdoors.

Allow your dog time to adjust and explore their new home and surroundings. Show them where the crate, food and water are located and give them time to adjust.

I.D. your dog with tags and consider micro chipping or tattoos. No one wants to think about their pet getting lost, but it does happen. Be prepared with pet identification.

Make a bedding area that gives the dog privacy and a quite place to rest. Create this comfortable area with a dog bed, crate, mat or blankets. Provide a variety of toys, this will save some of your belongings from becoming chew toys when he/she is left alone. Never leave your dog unattended with toys that contain small parts or are small enough to be swallowed.

Introductions to friends and neighbors should be come slowly, as not to overwhelm the new dog. Introductions of other pets should be done properly, don't force it. Pets should be allowed time to get to know each other, don't force play. Allow them to adjust to one another.

Be consistent with house training, whether that be crate, paper or litter box training. Accidents happen, be prepared for proper clean up.

Set house rules. Teach your dog what is and isn't OK. Everyone must be consistent and on point for the well being of your pet. Training your dog for basic commands is the best idea. Socialize your dog for appropriate behavior toward family members, guest and other animals. Obedience classes are a great experience for you and the dog. Dogs want to learn and please you.

Be a friend to your dog by giving of your time and efforts. Find the "Spot" that gives your dog the most joy and make that tail wag. Talk to your dog, praise your dog for good behavior and love them.

Choose a veterinarian as soon as possible. Have your first visit within a few days of bringing your dog home. Provide the vet with copies of the health records provided by the breeder. Work with your vet to set up a vaccination and check-up schedule. Learn about the health risk for your breed and how to prevent them.

Good Health consist of good diet with the correct portion of food appropriate for the dogs age, size and activity level. Keep plenty of fresh clean water out for your dog. Maintain a healthy weight. People food is not good for your dog. Exercise on a regular schedule, go for walks, run around the yard, throw a ball. Active dogs are healthy and this could prevent behavior problems. Be aware of heat stress, provide a shady rest area and plenty of cool water.

Vaccinate to prevent diseases and talk with your vet about Heart worm and Lyme disease prevention. Ask questions about other concerns you may have.

Bathe and groom on a regular

basis for your breed. Use a good shampoo and rinse well. Grooming reduces shedding and skin problems. Nails should be kept trimmed to prevent injury. Tooth and gum health is also important. Introduce a tooth brush early on and provide chew toys that will assist in cleaning teach and gums. If you are not comfortable with some of the grooming aspects, consult a professional groomer.

Protect against poisons in and around the home. This includes plants, foods, chemicals used in cleaning and maintenance such as anti-freeze. Keep the veterinarian's number handy in case of an emergency.

Travel safe with your pet. Use car restraints or a travel crate, never allow your dog to ride unrestrained in a vehicle. If it is not feasible to travel with your pet, consider kennel boarding or hire a pet sitter. Never leave your pet home alone while you travel.

Be alert of your dogs changing needs, especially as your dog ages and becomes less active. Do everything you can to keep them comfortable and pampered in their final years. Don't prolong suffering because of your fear or pain of losing your dog. Arrange to end their life humanely when that time comes.

You are the one in charge of your dogs health, happiness and welfare, but you have the most to gain from doing so. Dogs only want to please their master and will remain loyal to you for a lifetime.

If we here at Ruffwood Labs can ever be of assistance, please don't hesitate to call on us for help.

We think every home needs a four-legged friend, filled with tail wags and puppy dog kisses.

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