Five Steps to Being a Responsible Dog Owner

Did you know that if your dog bites someone that you are held liable? These five steps will help you become a more responsible dog owner and reduce the likelihood of your dog injuring someone.

  • 1. Realize that Having a Dog is a Big Commitment - Owning a dog is a long-term commitment, both emotionally and financially, and is not for everyone. A dog should never be a spontaneous purchase or a gift. Before bringing a dog home, take time to research what owning a dog involves. Many people do not realize how much it costs to take proper care of a dog, nor do they consider the time it takes to give the dog the exercise it needs and deserves.After thoroughly researching, discuss with your family who will be responsible for what duties. Remember that everyone is very willing to take care of a puppy, but once the dog begins misbehaving, many people lose interest and regret their decision. If you know a family friend who is going out of town, offer to watch their dog to see if owning a dog is a good fit for your family.
  • 2. Research Breeds - If you decide that owning a dog is right for your family, begin to research breeds. Whether you are buying from a breeder or adopting from a local shelter, you will want to make sure that the breed is right for your family’s lifestyle. If you are a single parent with young children, a large and energetic breed is clearly not for you. On the other hand, if you are a very active family who spends a lot of time outdoors, you will want a breed that also likes to exercise and spend time around people.
  • 3. Set Strict Rules - Whether bringing a puppy or an older dog into your home, always establish strict rules from day one that will prevent aggressive behavior. The moment you let your dog get away with something, such as jumping on visitors, your dog will assume its behavior is acceptable. Also, set rules about where your dog is allowed in your home and outdoor area. If your yard is not fenced in, keep your dog on a leash at all times to prevent your dog from running away and potentially harming someone.
  • 4. Take Your Dog to Obedience School - Obedience lessons are crucial to establish ownership with your dog. Although puppies are typically easier to train, all dogs are capable of learning and it is important to show them who is boss. Learning how to properly train your dog in an obedience class will also allow your dog the opportunity to socialize. Socialization is very important for dogs, especially when walking them or taking them to a dog park. It is very important to teach your dog what is acceptable and what is not while around other dogs.If your dog knows its boundaries, it will less likely harm another dog or a person. If you have children, always supervise your dog around them. Many fatalities occur when parents are negligent and allow their children to be alone with the family dog. Even the friendliest dog can be set off by something small, such as a child chasing it or stealing its toy.
  • 5. Visit a Veterinarian Regularly - Lastly, always make sure your dog’s shots and vaccinations are up-to-date. In the event that your dog would bite someone, you will want to be able to prove that they are healthy and free of disease. Staying current with rabies vaccinations is a must, in order to prevent your dog from picking up the disease while outdoors.

If you or a loved one is ever injured by a dog bite, contact a dog bite attorney immediately to learn about your rights and what compensation may be available for you. It is important to realize that dog bites can occur due to a dog owner’s negligence to properly train or care for their dog. If you own a dog, please do your part as an owner and help reduce dog bite fatalities by being aware that there are severe consequences if your dog inflicts injury.  You may also want to further your knowledge by learning a few tips for avoiding dog attacks.