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.
Making Lifestyle Changes
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.
- I knew that getting dog food, vaccinations, vet visits, grooming, training and transport cost money. But travelling a lot for work and leisure also means that I have to set aside additional budget for frequent dog boarding. Setting up a monthly 'dog fund' has helped me in managing fixed and ad hoc expenses more efficiently
- I spend time reading dog food labels and looking up manufacturing sources because I don't believe in what I see on packagings. In a relatively unregulated industry, some manufacturers use frivolous keywords and claims to market their products. It's also not uncommon to see expiry dates and manufacturing sources being tampered. This is what led me to setting up a responsible and ethical online pet store to serve the dog community in Singapore
- I also understood that having dogs means taking them out everyday. Dogs need to be walked minimally 1-2 times a day, especially if they are trained to do their potty outdoors. Even if they aren’t, it’s important that they get to go outside for keep their minds simulated and bodies active.
Respecting A Diverse Community
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.
- Basic etiquette to me is simply picking up after my dog, or seek permission if it is ok to have my dog around in public common spaces that are not allotted to be pet-friendly
- Training my dogs admist my busy traveling schedule was one of the hardest thing to do. But I also know that this is not negotiable if I want my dogs to live harmoniously with my neighbours and dogs in the hood
- I also make a point to leash my dog outdoor at all times to respect those who wish to keep a distance from them
Integrating Into The Family
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.
- I didn't get my family to wholeheartedly accept my first dog so there was a slight teething period at the beginning. Things got a lot better after I had my own apartment. Family acceptance and support is important, so please make sure your family endorse your decision in getting a dog
- I also asked my family to be equally committed in training my dogs to ensure consistency and effective results. We lost a family member just before we got our first dog. Having a puppy at home actually changed the dynamics at home and helped us tide through a difficult period. In fact, getting the family together to train the dog has shown to be a very good family bonding activity
- Needless to say, it's basic respect to make sure your family has no allergies towards dogs
A Collective Effort
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.
Photo Credit(main header image): Robert Stokoe
After 12 years in the corporate world, Terry decided to leave the rat race for Good Dog People™. He's on the pursuit of redefining dog ownership, one dog at a time. In his spare time, Terry enjoys chasing the light, explore new hiking and running trails, growing his own food and spending time with his rescued schnauzers. Follow him on IG @terrypeh.