Being a responsible dog owner

Give a dog ‘the quality of life it deserves’.

Owning a dog comes with plenty of responsibilities.

As Feniton-based dog trainer Helen Perryman explains, taking care of a dog is not only about safeguarding the animal’s health and wellbeing but also picking up its mess, too.

“It is a massive responsibility for dog owners to train their dog and have it under control to give it the quality of life it deserves,” says Helen.

Pet owners can start training their puppies from about seven to eight weeks.

“Start training them at a young age and make sure you get the right advice. Training a dog doesn’t just take six weeks – there is no time limit. It is important to keep up training.”

For those looking to join a dog training club, Helen says it is important to research the club before joining and check out the venue, instructor and how many dogs are in the class.

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There is currently no legislation governing dog trainers and behaviourists.

She added: “Anybody can set up as a dog trainer or behaviourist. We are trying to get some form of legislation put in place.”

However, as Helen explains, being a responsible dog owner is making sure your dog is kept under control.

“Responsible dog ownership means having your dog under control, happy and sociable around people and other dogs.

“If you are going to carry a poo bag, make sure you use it when your dog fouls.

“It is also really important for dog owners to respect other owners and their dogs. You have a responsibility to that other dog to make sure it does not race over and annoy someone else.

“Make sure you have control of your dog at all times. It is a safety issue if the dog runs out into the road as it could cause an accident.”

Pam Stow, of the Dogs Trust, said: “Our four-legged friends require a huge amount of time and commitment.

“It is important to remember the responsibility and cost that comes with dog ownership – your new dog will need training, socialising, vaccinating, worming, flea treatments, neutering and insuring. Food bills add up and regular vet checks are vital to ensure your dog is happy and healthy plus you must be willing to brave all dog walking weather conditions.”

She added: “Sadly, many people do not consider the responsibility of dog ownership and are quick to abandon their dogs when the novelty wears off; it is charities like Dogs Trust that are left to pick up the pieces.

“The rewards of dog ownership are of course endless and if you are willing to provide for your dog, he or she will soon become a valued member of your family and will offer years of companionship and affection.”