Considering a Dog? Read This First
If you’ve never been loved by a lap dog, you’re in for a treat. But pet ownership is more than just picking a puppy and plopping him in a dog house. It’s a lifelong commitment that involves you, your family, and even your neighbors.
Before you adopt your new furry family member, there are a few things you should know in order to keep him healthy and happy and to keep your neighbors from calling animal control.
Having a dog means lots of cleaning up
When your dog is a puppy, chewing is natural byproduct of curiosity. It’s how he learns about the world and his new home. As a dog ages, his chewing may morph into destructive behaviors that leave everything from broken toys and stolen socks to scavenged trash scattered throughout the yard. Your neighbors don’t want to look at a mini landfill next door, so you will have to clean up after your pet at least once a week or whenever he makes an unsightly mess. Likewise, it’s a good idea to clean up after your dog does his business if you have a small yard that connects to your neighbor’s. After all, no one wants to send their kids outdoors when it smells like a subway bathroom.
Good fences make good neighbors
If your home isn’t already secured, it’s time to build a fence. Not only will this keep Franky from free-ranging through the neighbor’s flower garden, but will also keep other dogs and potentially harmful wildlife out of your yard. HomeAdvisor estimates that a nice professionally-installed wooden fence should run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,511 to $3,467 depending on your lot size and contractor.
There are laws that govern your animal’s behavior and freedom
The Animal Protection Ordinances in the City of Austin and most nearby municipalities aren’t that difficult to understand. The Austin Animal Center notes that unrestrained/unleashed dogs are prohibited unless they are in a designated off-leash area. Essentially, your dog should always be leashed unless he is in his own (fenced) yard. Dogs cannot be tethered at home as a primary means of restraint. Your dog should always have proper identification on his tags, including your contact info and his rabies certification. Noise ordinances also dictate how late into the night your dog’s barking is allowed – if it goes past a certain hour, you’ll annoy the neighbors and incur fines and legal action.
You must also ensure your dog is familiar with – and will obey – common commands. This will not only help him learn appropriate behavior at home and on the go, but will also serve to establish pack order with you as the alpha. If you have children, they must also enforce house rules. The American Kennel Club notes that consistency is paramount to being a responsible dog owner and having a well-behaved pet. Your dog should also see a veterinarian at least once each year for regular health checks. As a puppy, this will include a series of vaccinations that will protect him from contracting and spreading diseases that could result in an altered personality or shortened lifespan.
Other ways to be a good dog owner and neighbor include:
Know your dog’s eating and sleeping patterns and talk to his vet if they change abruptly.
Exercise him by talking walks through the neighborhood– you’ll meet your neighbors and satiate his curiosity.
While on these walks, do not allow your dog into other people’s yards, and clean up after him when he goes to the bathroom.
When you can’t be there for your dog, make sure a friend, family member, or trusted pet sitter can check on his wellbeing (such as if you are running late from work or must leave home without notice).
Give him plenty of toys to keep him occupied while you’re away to quell barking.
With these tips, you can have a happy and well-adjusted dog that won’t be the nuisance of the neighborhood. It takes work and a strong commitment, but getting a dog is a decision that you won’t regret.