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Truth be told, I'm still learning to be a responsible dog owner. And it will always be a work in progress.
Dog ownership has evolved over centuries, especially in the last twenty years. From raising dogs to herd, guard, or hunt, many are now choosing to keep dogs as pets, for companionship. Most people ensure that their dogs have food and water. But there’s really a lot more to being a responsible dog owner than that. Before saying yes to those puppy eyes, here are some key considerations that I think it's important to be a responsible dog owner living in Singapore.
The first and most obvious consideration before I got my dogs is whether my lifestyle has room for one. Dogs are incredibly social creatures that require goodnutrition, an active and healthy lifestyle, as well as opportunities to interact with other dogs.
This is a tricky but important one. Living in a densely-populated and multi-racial city like Singapore means we need to more aware and sensitive of every individual's acceptance towards dogs. It’s encouraging to see that Singaporeans are more accepting of dogs, but some issues remain. It’s common to hear of neighbours complaining of dogs barking, which could result in authorities acting to remove a dog from the owner. Dog owners too, sometimes antagonise neighbours because of inconsiderate behaviour such as not picking up dog poo, excessive barking, and so on.
This is important, because I was still living with my family when I got my first dog. There are too many cases of dogs being abandoned because a baby is on the way, or because someone in the family is allergic or dislike dogs.
As you can see, bringing a dog into our lives is hardly a personal decision. Being a responsible dog owner in Singapore includes making changes to our lifestyle, preparing our family, training our dog, being considerate to our neighbours and complying with the laws of the land.
At the same time, I'm also thankful and would hope to see continued effective measures from our policy makers and AWGs - not just in rescuing strays and encouraging adoption but also louder emphasis on responsible dog ownership. People who are afraid or dislike dogs can also learn to respectfully avoid them rather than being overly critical of them. After all, the world doesn’t belong to any individual. All of us has an important role to play to protect the interest of animals and live harmoniously with people with, or without pets.
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