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Owning a Dog – your responsibilities

Are you lucky enough to own a dog?

Are you thinking about adopting a dog?

This information is for you!

Dogs can’t talk but they feel pain, hunger, stress and fear just as we do.

When you take charge of a dog, whether it is a puppy or a grown up dog, you have to do certain things to take care of it.

As a good and caring dog owner you are responsible for making sure that your dog:

- Is fed and has access to water every day and is never hungry or thirsty.

- Does not suffer from any kind of pain, injury or disease.

- Is protected from possible injury.

- Is not living in fear (of humans, other animals, loud noises).

- Has comfort – it has shelter from rain, hot sun and is not chained up all day long.

- Is happy – she or he is able to play, be petted and spoken to with kindness and love.

What can you do to make sure you are looking after your dog properly?

1. Provide daily meals and lots of clean water.

Your pet relies on you to give him enough nutritious food and water

to keep him healthy.

Make sure you have clean bowls to provide food and water in.

Make sure you can afford to feed your dog properly!

2. Do not allow anyone to cause any kind of harm to your dog.

Kicking, yelling, beating, teasing (pulling tail and ears) are all forms of abuse and cruelty. Don’t do it even when you are angry. There are kinder ways to teach an animal to follow your rules. Keep him off the roadside and footpaths to avoid risk of accidents or being hurt by others.

Tail docking and ear clipping are painful and unnecessary – and illegal.

Don’t set off fireworks near or on your dog. Remember always s/he is just like a child

and trusts YOU.

3. Take your dog to the vet if s/he is sick or hurt. Only a qualified vet can understand and advise on your animal’s health. And NEVER give unprescribed drugs to your pet.

4. Get your dog dewormed and vaccinated – there are many harmful illnesses in Fiji, including leptospirosis, that can be transmitted to humans and can cause severe sickness in your pet. Vaccinations can help keep your dog healthy and prevent spread of diseases. Deworming will prevent hookworms and other internal parasites in your dog. Ticks and fleas suck blood and can make your dog very sick and weak. Check with the SPCA for the types of deflea-ing shampoo or ointments that can help prevent fleas and ticks.

5. Provide adequate and comfortable shelter. This doesn’t mean you have to build an entire doghouse! Just a clean and dry covered area with a soft towel or blanket will be enough. If you can, put up a fenced area where your dog can run and get exercise.

6. Keep him off the chain! Chaining your dog for long periods of time will make it unhappy and probably upset your neighbours. Dogs need exercise and want to be near humans. Give your animal the chance to be part of your family. If you think you will have to keep your pet chained up, don’t get a dog.

7. Train your dog! Dogs are smart. You can teach a dog to stay within the compound area and not run after other animals, cars or people. This will prevent fights, car accidents and people throwing stones or attempting to injure your dog in other ways. It is always better to have a secured, fenced compound when you own any pet. Remember always that animals have different natural behaviours, e.g. they want to bark, scratch, etc. With gentleness and patience, you can train them to behave better. Don’t use punishment to train them.

8. Looking for a guard dog? A good guard dog is not determined by its breed, or how short its tail is and is not created by tying them up or causing them harm. Any dog that is loved will protect you and your home or yard.

9. Stop your dog from making unwanted puppies by getting your male and female dog desexed. This will not change who your dog is but it will stop her/him from roaming and getting into fights. They will become more protective of your property. It will prevent them from getting sexually transmitted tumours and other disease from mating. It will prevent massive numbers of unwanted puppies who are left to fend for themselves on the street. It will drastically reduce the dogs getting into trash on roadsides, using footpaths for toilet and forming gangs.

10. Plan for a pet! Make sure you understand the responsibilities that come with a dog – are you sure you can handle the time, effort and money required – do you have plans for some of the potential problems mentioned above?

Golden Rule: Treat your dog with the same kindness and care that you would show a child

Love your dog and it will protect you with its life - that is their nature.

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