If you’re reading this, you’re probably already pretty responsible. Nice job! Since learning is a lifelong process, here are habits that can take your pet care skills to the next level.

  1. Walk your dog — sun, rain or snow. Structured exercise not only works out your dog’s body, but their brain too. Plus, it’s an amazing relationship-building activity.
     
  2. Learn their language. Understanding how dogs and cats communicate can tell you when your pet is feeling playful, uncomfortable, or in pain.
     
  3. Keep the leash on unless you’re in a designated off-leash area. Leashes not only help keep your dog safe, but they also help ensure the safety of other dogs, who may be training or working through behavioral issues.
     
  4. Train recall. Before letting your dog off leash, practice and reinforce recall inside the house, then outside on a long line (15-30ft), gradually adding distractions to make sure the command is solid. 
     
  5. Get consent for greetings. Ask the other owner if it’s ok before allowing your dog to approach another dog. On-leash greetings are generally not recommended since the restraint and nose-to-nose position are unnatural, it can create tension — even between normally well-mannered dogs. If your dog is off leash, don’t allow them to approach on-leash dogs, who may react defensively due to having their flight response removed. Keep a safe distance!
     
  6. Put the phone away. Texting or talking and walking not only takes your attention away from what your dog is doing (how did they get that chicken bone?!) but it can also lead to other mishaps like tripping or dropping your phone. Not that we’ve done that or anything…
     
  7. Don’t forget to pick up pet droppings. Never be without a waste bag again. If you feel like you’re always forgetting, look for treat bag or fanny pack with a dispenser.
     
  8. Trim nails regularly. If your pet doesn’t like trims or has dark nails, try a dremel. Use counter-conditioning, which breaks the process into small steps with lots of rewards. For example, to get them used to the sound, turn on the dremel from a distance. Reward them for staying calm. Gradually increase the expectations until you’re able to successfully file their nails.
     
  9. Visit the vet. Regular checkups can help you set a baseline for your pet’s health in case something unexpected comes up.
     
  10. Play it safe. If something seems off, get it looked at. Concerned about cost? Get a pet insurance quote so you don’t have to decide between your pet’s well-being and your wallet. 
     
  11. Make sure your pet is microchipped. Even when you take all precautions, pets can still get lost or stolen. Having a 24PetWatch Microchip, along with a 24PetWatch Lifetime Protection Membership™ can help them be returned to you if they ever go missing.