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Advice for new dog owners

So you are considering becoming a dog owner.

Dog ownership comes with many rewards. If done correctly, the companionship that dog ownership brings can become a real positive and life enhancing experience.

However, dog ownership is not suited to everyone.

If you have never owned a dog before, it is important that you take into consideration the many responsibilities that come with dog ownership. All too often people take on the responsibility of dog ownership before they fully understand exactly what this entails.

Below is a list of responsibilities to be considered before becoming a dog owner:

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Something often overlooked, but nevertheless vitally important. As soon as you take ownership of a dog, the quality of life that the dog is going to have becomes wholly your responsibility

You become entirely responsible for:

  • the food that the dog eats
  • the exercise that the dog gets
  • the training and stimulation that the dog receives
  • the length of time that the dog spends with people

You take responsibility for:

  • any mess that the dog makes
  • any damage that the dog does
  • any trouble that the dog gets into

You are responsible for:

  • veterinary fees, (which can be expensive)
  • grooming and general care
  • the dogs weight (food and exercise)

You are responsible for ensuring that your dog:

  • is microchipped
  • has an identifiable tag
  • is secure and under control at all times
  • is safe around other people/children

Ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary fees, and canine insurance can cost an average of £25 a week. (£1,300 per year)

Just like people, dogs get old.You are responsible ensuring you meet any necessary changes in lifestyle, food and supplements that may help your dog’s aging.

Also, when your dog reaches the end of its life, as the owner it is likely that you will be responsible for managing its death to ensure there no unnecessary suffering. This is something you must be prepared for.

The average lifespan for a dog is currently 12 years (many dogs surpass this). So you really need to think about whether you can make a lifelong commitment to a dog.

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Adopting an older dog

Animal shelters are full of healthy and active senior dogs that are in need of a home. They make great pets for a number of reasons:

  1. senior dogs need homes just as badly as younger dogs
  2. adopting an older dog may save its life
  3. older dogs usually come trained and understand at least basic commands
  4. you can teach an old dog new tricks - older dogs have a greater attention span than a puppy
  5. older dogs are calmer and less energetic than younger ones
  6. older dogs make instant companions - a puppy needs leash training, an adult dog is ready to go for long walks, play fetch, workout partner, and loyal companion

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Puppy training

A trained dog ultimately becomes and easier and more fun dog to own and we highly recommend that you consider classes once your new puppy is home with you.

Look for recommendations and qualifications when choosing a puppy training class, your veterinarian can also make a recommendations that you may wish to consider.

The Association of Dog Trainers is also a good way to find a registered trainer locally.

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Keeping pets and owners together

Cinnamon Trust is a national charity for the elderly, the terminally ill and their pets.

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Compulsory dog microchipping

From 6 April 2016 Compulsory dog microchipping came into effect. It is compulsory for owners to ensure their dog is microchipped by the time it is eight weeks old. You can be fined up to £500 if your dog is not microchipped. Your dog’s microchip must be fitted by a trained professional, for example a vet or an authorised person from the local authority.

Your dog’s microchip is given a number, which will show up whenever your dog is scanned. The professional who microchips your dog will also take your contact details. These details are kept alongside the microchip number on a database, so that your dog can be returned to you if it’s lost or stolen. You must make sure that your dog is registered on one of the following databases (they all meet government standards):

Your dog must still wear a collar and tag with your name and address when in a public place.

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Awards

The RSPCA’s Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) scheme honours organisations for their first-class initiatives, which improve animal welfare and only pioneering local authorities, housing providers and other public service organisations across England are recognised through the scheme.

Luton council are incredibly proud of currently holding a Platinum Stray Dog Footprint, in addition to the Gold Stay Footprint for 2018, in recognition of maintaining the award at gold level for five years continuously. These awards are given for contributions to improving animal welfare.

Luton council also received Special Recognition from the RSPCA in 2017 which acknowledges our Dog Warden Service and its commitment to identifying and supporting the thousands of responsible dog owners in Luton. Luton is one of only three Councils to win this award.

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Remember, when you take on a dog, the quality of its life becomes your sole responsibility and they are relying on you to do right by them. If you cannot commit to meeting the above responsibilities, you should think again before getting a dog.
© 2021 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ