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We are family!

“I am part of your family” is what a dog would say to you if he could spell it out to you in words. So what does this mean for an owner of a dog?Actually in the same way that you would consider carefully whether to start a family and have kids, you should have a very good think about whether to take a pet or a dog. This is where your responsibility starts in what is called Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO). Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment, they will depend on you for the rest of their life.

For many years, CAWS promoted an important part of RPO, where it was subsidizing the neutering and micro-chipping of dogs with the aim to minimize unwanted puppies ending up on the street. The highly successful Subsidised Neutering Program carried out over 7 years ensured that thousands of owned dogs were neutered and micro-chipped.

However CAWS believe that in order to affect long term change it must focus on ensuring people are responsible on many fronts in order to benefit the welfare of dogs. CAWS also believes that it cannot achieve this on its own. CAWS will continue to work closely with the Veterinary Association (VA) as well as local authorities in areas such as awareness and pricing and law and enforcement with the aim to achieve a higher degree of responsibility by dog owners. CAWS will also develop a campaign in 2014 to promote RPO with a special focus on dogs initially, although many principles of being a responsible dog owner also applies to other pets.

Now what should you do as a responsible dog owner?

| Lifestyle choice

As we said earlier RPO starts with the very careful consideration whether to take a dog at all. In other words does a dog fit with you current lifestyle or are you ready to make changes to your lifestyle to welcome a new member to your family. The decision to become a dog owner should come after extensive research and planning, not as an impulsive one. Just because you think something is cute, does not mean it will be the perfect fit for you.

| Make him part of the family

Pets, especially dogs, need companionship. They are traditionally pack creatures and need the warmth and love that comes with living indoors with their family.

| Dog proof your house

To keep your pet healthy you should research what household products and foods can harm your pet. Make sure these are kept in secure locations so your pet cannot get to them.

| Provide veterinary care for your dog

Regular visits to the vet and groomer are absolutely necessary. Have your dog checked for flees and worms. Also ensure he receives the correct vaccinations at the right times. Your dog should receive a Passport in which all treatments are recorded and tracked.

| Neuter your dog

Neutering prevents unwanted puppies ending up on the street. Studies have also shown that pets that are neutered live healthier, longer lives. Plus, neutered dogs are less likely to develop behavioral problems.

|Microchip and always keep an ID tag on your pet

By law you must micro-chip your dog. Together with a visible tag it will help identify him if he is lost or stolen.

| Clean up after your dog

It is every owner’s duty to clean up after their dog – there are no excuses for leaving it behind. Ensure you carry a poop scooper or plastic bags when walking your dog.

| Train your dog to understand obedience

Dogs should at least understand basic direction like “sit” and “stay.” In an emergency situation these cues could save your dog’s life.

| Give him the exercise he needs

All dogs need regular exercise to stay fit and to release their energy. Without it, your dog will begin to act out. Young dogs that do not get enough exercise are more likely to develop negative behavioral issues that lead many to give up their dog.

| Feed him properly

Ask your vet what type of food and how much is right for you pet. Keeping your dog on a regular, portion controlled diet will help with weight management and prevent weight related health problems.

| Socialize your pet

Dogs should not be left alone for more than 5 hours at any one time. Also meeting new people and other dogs improves the confidence of your dog. Plus, having extra playmates will help relieve some of your dog’s built up energy.

| Love your dog

You are your dog’s favorite thing in the whole world. He craves your love, attention and care. So show him the love and devotion he shows you!