What Does Responsible Dog Ownership Look Like?

10 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
September 16, 2023

A Beagle on a leash looks up adoringly at its owner

Unfortunately, we’ve all witnessed a person dragging a puppy by its collar, not paying attention to the puppy’s needs, ignoring bad behavior, feeding excessive, fatty table scraps, or one of the worst infractions a dog owner can commit – not picking up after their dog. 

Shelters and rescues everywhere are full of surrendered puppies and dogs that are returned because people are not prepared to take care of them. It’s not fair to the puppies to cast them aside because you didn’t do your research or prepare for a puppy. 

We celebrate National Responsible Dog Ownership Day by asking dog owners their ideas of what responsible dog ownership looks like to them for more insight into how they keep their dogs happy and healthy. 


Cooperini has been a part of April's sons' lives since they were little, sharing every milestone and bringing them joy and companionship

How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

Being a responsible dog owner means meeting your dog's physical and emotional needs, ensuring their safety, and nurturing a loving and trusting relationship. By following these guidelines, you'll provide your canine companion with a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Puppies are a lifelong commitment 

Before you even look into specific dog breeds, you need to ask yourself, “Am I ready for a puppy?” 

April and her dog, Cooperoni, have been a team for many years. She observes, “When you get a dog, you’re making a commitment to this living being, and it’s lifelong. You’re responsible for their health, happiness, and their life experience. They’re family, and they deserve the same attention and devotion we give our children and spouses.”

Sarah has an elderly Cocker Spaniel named Bambi. She observes, “Rescues and shelters are overloaded with senior dogs specifically because the owners simply don't want to take responsibility for their dogs once they have to start paying for maintenance medications or procedures. Long story short, be aware of the financial responsibilities of pet ownership, and don't dump your dog when you get tired of them.”


Bambi the Cocker Spaniel has experienced some health issues, but owner Sarah is prepared to love and care for her 

In sickness and in health

A fluffy puppy is a lively, adorable cuddly bundle of cuteness – but that puppy grows up, and quickly. With that comes the “teenage” puppy years of teething, getting into trouble due to curiosity, or experiencing situations requiring an emergency vet.

One aspect of responsible puppy ownership is realizing they will grow older and their care needs will change – sometimes dramatically. 

Cocker Spaniel Bambi has experienced serious health issues in her later years. Sarah states, “Many geriatric pups end up in the shelter due to health issues that arise as they age. For example, Bambi has to get laser therapy done on her back because she has developed degenerative disc disease. Bambi has also had several small tumors removed over the past few years. Bambi girl is getting old, and we will never want to say goodbye to her. We don't deserve dogs!”

Get your finances in order

Financial preparation is vital before bringing a puppy into your home! The price of your puppy doesn’t end when you wrap up the adoption – your financial commitments have just begun.

Puppies require food, vaccinations, regular vet visits, grooming, training, and supplies like bedding and toys. Unexpected medical expenses can arise. Being financially ready for a puppy ensures you can provide the best care for your furry friend, fostering their health and happiness without undue stress on your budget. It demonstrates responsible pet ownership and supports a fulfilling and secure life for your pup.

Research the right dog breed for you

Never buy a puppy for sale just because it’s cute! It’s crucial to understand the breed or mix you're interested in by researching the right dog breed for you. Each dog has unique needs and characteristics, and selecting a puppy that’s the best fit for your lifestyle is paramount.

Do you have children? Are you an active senior? Are you looking for more of a snuggle buddy rather than a working dog? Are you a first-time puppy owner, or are you ready for the challenge of a dog requiring more experience? Do you suffer from allergies and need to consider hypoallergenic, low-shedding puppies? All of these and more are questions to ask yourself when considering puppies for sale


Pick up after your dog

Nearly every responsible dog owner we talked to mentioned the need to pick up after your dog. Failure to clean up your dog’s waste can have dire consequences for other pets, wildlife, humans, and the entire ecosystem. Common parasites and bacteria that can live in feces include Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Coccidia, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Yersinia, and E. coli, just to name a few. 

In addition to being unsightly, failing to pick up your pet’s waste is illegal in many communities and municipalities. There are even some companies communities utilize requiring a DNA sample to see which dog on file left its pile, and you can incur hefty fines. Always clean up after your dog! 

Provide proper training

Invest time and effort in training your dog. Basic puppy obedience commands and socialization are essential for a well-behaved and happy canine companion. 

April notes, “I think socializing our dogs is one of the most important parts of being a responsible dog owner. Including them in our daily lives, no matter what we’re doing, giving them a sense of purpose and belonging day in and day out makes for a happy, healthier pup and happy, healthier people.”

Regular exercise

Ensure your dog gets enough exercise to maintain physical and mental health. Daily walks, playtime, and activities like fetch are essential. Beyond the basics, there are several ways to exercise your dog that are both fun and healthy for humans and canines. 

If you ignore your dog’s exercise needs, you’ll experience consequences that are easy to avoid. Your puppy may become bored, anxious, and downright destructive. Not providing enough exercise opportunities can also have devastating health conditions, such as obesity, dysplasia, diabetes, and more.


Suzanne made sure her rescue Bowie finally got the dental care he needed 

Maintain excellent dental hygiene

Dog owner Suzanne rescued a small dog from an unfortunate situation, roaming the streets of Baltimore. When she found her dog, Bowie, “His breath smelled like hot trash on a 100-degree day in mid-July in Philly. It turns out he needed his teeth cleaned and 11 teeth extracted, which we did within 2 months of owning him.” Suzanne immediately got her dog the help he needed to address his dental issues.

Nutritious diet

Feed your dog high-quality, age-appropriate dog food. Consult your vet for dietary recommendations, and avoid feeding them harmful human foods. From raw, fresh food to kibble, there are several options to choose from. 

After speaking with your vet, most dogs can benefit from high-quality human food as well, providing nutrients in addition to specially formulated dog food. Suzanne notes, “We make sure not to feed our dog Bowie too many table scraps. His treats usually consist of fruits like fresh blueberries, strawberries, and watermelon. He loves it when I cook salmon because I filet the skin halfway through cooking and feed him some of it by way of chopsticks.”

Regular vet visits

Look into how to choose the right veterinarian for your puppy Schedule routine check-ups and vaccinations to prevent illnesses and ensure your dog's overall well-being. Promptly address any health concerns. Stay up-to-date on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Be aware of common puppy illnesses and when to call the vet. 

Grooming and hygiene

Regularly groom and clean your dog. Understand the importance of grooming your puppy and all the benefits your puppy can experience not only in appearance but for their health as well. Brush their coat, trim their nails, and bathe them as needed. Good hygiene is vital for their comfort and health.

Provide mental stimulation

Offer toys, puzzles, and interactive games to keep your dog's mind engaged. Mental stimulation for your puppy is as important as physical exercise. Mental stimulation is crucial for dogs as it prevents boredom, reduces anxiety, and enhances cognitive abilities. It keeps their minds active, wards off destructive behaviors, and strengthens the bond between dogs and their owners, leading to happier, healthier, and more well-adjusted pets.

Suitable living space

Are you a homeowner or have a lease agreement? Does your home have a lot of room, or do you live in a small condo with neighbors close by? If you are getting a dog and have others living in your house, make sure you discuss the responsibilities of household members. Your living space and climate will dictate which dog breed you get and the size of your chosen puppy. For example, Great Pyrenees dogs are large dogs that require lots of room to roam. Some apartments have dog breed and size restrictions. 

destiny.freeman (1).jpg

Nox and Eevee know Destiny will take care of their needs, no matter where she lives

Destiny is the proud owner of two young Miniature Australian Shepherd pups named Nox and Eevee. Because Destiny did her research and was prepared to live with two high-energy dogs, she has some advice for how to be responsible when considering living situations for your puppy. “Take into account the area you live in, and make sure it’s not only pet friendly but suitable for the breed you’re looking into! For example, living in an apartment with Aussies or Huskies typically isn’t ideal unless your neighborhood has lots of trails for walks and a dog park.” 

Likewise, make sure the climate in which you live is suitable for the dog breed you choose. For example, short-haired, single-coated dogs can get too cold in a cold-weather environment, and a double-coated, thick-haired dog can get overheated in hot climates. 

Safety first

Our puppies depend on us to give them security and safety their entire lives. Keep your dog safe by providing a secure yard or leash when outside. Ensure they have proper identification for dogs, including required tags and a microchip. Buy or make a dog first aid kit to have handy in case of minor emergencies. 

Unconditional love and attention

Dogs thrive on companionship and affection. Spend quality time with your furry friend, showing them love and care. Learn ways to bond with your puppy to strengthen the deep connection dogs bring to our lives. 


Dog owner Lelah outfits her dog, Charlotte, with the right leash and collar for her needs. 

Buy the right equipment

Beyond food and shelter, you’ll need a variety of other items to keep your puppy well cared for. You’ll need a bed, a crate, toys, a leash, a harness, a grooming brush, nail clippers, dental hygiene items – and a good vacuum if you have a dog that sheds to manage dog hair in your home.

However, don’t just go for the cheapest items without being thoughtful about what it will truly cost you. Lelah owns Charlotte, a lovely black dog who has been her best listener. They had a terrible experience with a dog that used a retractable leash, and the irresponsible owner clearly did not care a retractable leash was the wrong choice for their particular dog.

“Charlotte was attacked on three separate occasions by unsocialized dogs whose owners used retractable leashes. When you have a dog that goes after other dogs, a retractable leash is an awful choice because they are very easily dropped!” says Lelah. “Charlotte uses a regular 6” leash and a Martingale collar. She does super well with them - no pulling like with a harness and no potential concerns like with a choke chain.”

Ready to Be a Responsible Dog Owner? 

We are so pleased you are already informing yourself of all the ways to be a responsible dog owner. We hope that we brought up some points you hadn’t considered before, and we know you will take them to heart. 

In order to be a responsible dog owner, you need, well, a dog! But where can you find healthy puppies for sale?

Happy puppies come from trustworthy breeders who have expertise in their chosen breeds and want to provide lifelong companions. At Pawrade, we recognize the challenge of locating a reputable breeder, so we've harnessed our knowledge and skills to assist you in your search. We maintain an absolute stance against puppy mills and take pride in our commitment to linking you with trustworthy and ethical breeders. Our breeders aren’t just random people – they are pre-screened and hand-selected, upholding the highest standards when breeding healthy puppies. 

Pawrade also offers complete peace of mind knowing we are not a scam and guarantees you with 100% certainty that you will experience a smooth, secure experience utilizing a secure transaction management system, PetPay, which protects you from fraud and puppy scams.

Ready to become a responsible dog owner and welcome a furry friend into your life? Explore our available puppies for sale today and discover your perfect canine companion for a lifetime of puppy kisses. 


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Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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