Had I asked you if dogs are man’s best friends, you would have definitely said yes. I would, too, myself. However, agreeing to this idea does not necessarily manifest on how you take care of your dogs — that is, are you treating them like you would fellow human beings? Whether you are already a dog-owner or planning to be one, we hope that this article can serve as a guide and/or reminder on responsible dog ownership.
Choosing your dog. You must bear in mind that responsible dog ownership goes beyond adoring your dogs. It is a serious commitment to provide for their distinct physiological and psychological needs. Therefore, you should choose a dog that fits your personality and lifestyle.
You can research or seek advice from your local veterinary service or from the members of the Animal Welfare Group here in Two Serendra.
Feeding your dog. Dogs have extraordinary sensory and physical capabilities. Their sense of smell are 1000-10,000 times more sensitive than humans; their perfect average vision is 20/75, making their low-light vision much better than humans; their sense of hearing can cover 4 times the distance of a human who has normal hearing; and their cardiovascular system enables both exceptional sprinting and terrific endurance. Thus, their nutritional needs are different to humans. Here are some tips in ensuring a balanced diet for dogs:
· Water must be available at all times and it should never be substituted for milk.
· The protein content recommended for a balanced diet for dog is 20 to 30 percent. Be sure to include protein rich food in your dog's diet.
· Your dog needs 'fuel' so stay healthy and active. Hence, provide it with food rich in fat and oils. This nutrient also helps in improving the taste and digestive capacity of the pet.
· Feed your dog with food at regular interval. You may serve measured meals, twice a day. Feed your pet based on a specific schedule. Food should not be left available to dogs for long periods of time. Allow 10 minutes for the dog to eat the food then remove the remainder if any.
· If your dog is frequently rewarded with treats, then you should be careful not to overdo it. Keep a check on the treats, because the excess can disturb nutritional balance. You should also remember that chocolates are harmful for dogs.
· Avoid feeding your dog with table scraps, because it develops the bad habit of begging. Moreover, table scraps do not find any place in the balanced diet and may cause harm to your pet's smooth bowel movement.
Making time for your dog. It may take only a few weeks to build a bond with your dog but it will take a lifetime to maintain that bond. Another thing, a dog’s behavior is significantly influenced with the training you give them. That is why, it is very important to spend quality time with your dog.
Make sure that you regularly walk your dog because it is an important ritual in keeping your dog mentally stable. Dogs are walkers/travelers by instinct. The proper way to walk a dog is to walk it beside you on your left side, never in front of you. This may seem petty in a human's mind. However, it means a lot in a dog’s mind. Instinct tells a dog that the leader goes first. The dog is not to sniff the ground and relieve themselves wherever they please. They are to concentrate on their handler while walking. The person walking the dog decides when the dog is allowed to sniff or pee, not the dog. The lack of exercise and the mental energy a proper walk releases can cause many behavioral problems in a dog.
This is also reinforced by the Two Serendra’s Animal Welfare Protocol. In addition, you should keep your dog on a leash. There is a penalty of PhP5,000.00 for each dog without a leash roaming around Two Serendra. Also, if in case your dog relieves itself, a simple plastic bag slipped over your hand like a glove makes an efficient and sanitary pick up tool. A penalty of PhP1,000.00 will be charged for every offense.
Keeping your dog clean and healthy. Unlike humans, dogs are not supposed to take a bath everyday. Giving them bath twice a week is enough. Make sure you dry your dog well after a bath otherwise, your dog may develop a smell. Smelly dogs are not going to be allowed in the elevators. You may also give your dogs special treats that can minimize their dog odor. Most popular of which is “ODORLESS” they come in tablet form.
You should let your dog visit the veterinarian’s clinic at least twice a year. Make sure that your dog has taken all the necessary vaccinations especially anti-rabies shots.
De-Worm your dog quarterly. Consult your veterinary doctor for advice specific to your dog. Remember that eggs from the canine roundworm, Toxocara canis, can cause serious
illness in children. These eggs will be present in dog stools and attached to the dogs coat.
Sterilizing your dog. You have the discretion to spay/neuter your dog or not. If you are not planning to breed, most experts agree that the average companion dog should be spayed and neutered. Spaying or neutering can also prevent the occurrence of life-threatening health conditions associated with the reproductive system, including cancer. Dogs that are spayed or neutered by six months of age are far less likely to develop behavioral issues that are related to gender-specific hormones.
In addition, your dog, or any pet for that matter, as a requirement, should be duly registered with the Two Serendra Admin Office. You can also have their pedigree checked through Philippine Canine Club Inc. (PCCI) or Asian Kennel Club Union of the Philippines, Inc. (AKCUPI). It is also recommended that your dog is properly identified through a collar with a disc, badge, or nametag or have a micro-chip inserted into your dog’s skin for proper identification in case you lose your dog.
Now, let’s get to know some of the dog owners in Two Serendra and their thoughts on responsible dog ownership:
BETH AND “BAMBI”
Ms. Beth Mendoza received this very cute and lovable Applehead Chihuahua as a birthday gift last April 2011. Bambi, as she calls it, is 8 mos. old.
FIDEL AND “ALIYAH”
Fidel Angelo Moses Cruz Sarcol got this very athletic and playful Labrador 3 months ago from Silang, Cavite for his birthday. Aliyah is 24 months old already. Aliyah has not really joined dog shows for sometime now because the former owner has too many dogs in her Kennel.
However, Aliyah recently won Winners Bitch and Best of Winners, in a recent Philippine Canine Club Inc.(PCCI) All Breed Championship Dog Show in the Mall of Asia. Fidel was very happy and wants to campaign her to become a Philippine Champion.
QUESTION: How would you describe your pet dog?
BETH: Since I live alone in Serendra, it’s really a delight to have Bambi as a companion. She’s like my baby “super lambing” and very loving. She just follows me around. She’s usually quiet. She’s so little that I bring her almost everywhere except when I travel overseas.
FIDEL: Aliyah’s the perfect running buddy. She’s beautiful and sweet. She even wakes us up in the morning. She extends her paws and do a cry-like sound to suggest that we should get up already. She likes to be pat on the head and gently squeezed behind her ears all the time. Labradors are the most loveable breed of dogs, maybe that’s why they call them “LABS”. She’s just perfect, not too small and not too big and not that aggressive compared to a German Shepherd, which my Dad was crazy about years ago.
QUESTION: What advice can you give to the other Two Serendra residents who are planning to own a pet dog?
BETH: For me, a Chihuahua is suitable for those who are living in condo units. She’s just small and loving, sometimes possessive. It’s really low maintenance to raise a Chihuahua, they eat little amount of food, thus, their poop’s odorless and so little. Dog owners just need to make sure that they are clean, completed their boosters and vaccines. They should also need to train their dogs when to “weewee” and poop.
FIDEL: They must always find time to play with them because they really love to play. They should also walk their dogs everyday. It is really a pity for the dogs to be caged the whole day. It’s also good for the owner because they will also be able to exercise which is good for the body. I think they shouldn’t just let the yayas walk their dogs because in the case of the yayas, they are only doing it because it’s a mere part of their work unlike when the dog owners themselves walk the dogs, it’s like giving, expressing their love for them.
Sources: Maguire, Sharon, Dog Breed and Info Center
Stregowski Jenna, Responsible Dog Ownership
Responsible Dog Ownership, Veterinary Department, Cork County Council
Animal Welfare Protocol, Serendra District Two