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September 18, 2023 6 min read

Alongside birthdays, life’s chapters are marked by the accumulation of responsibilities: first car, first job, first home, first marriage, first child… you get the drift. And with each of these, life opens out in new and exciting ways. Having celebrated many birthdays, and anticipating my next very soon, I found myself thinking about those landmark moments. Of all the many incredible experiences I have had, by far the most rewarding is not enumerated above, though from this day forward, I will be adding it to the list: first self-managed pet! As much as I loved my rabbit, Bernard Cauliflower Cheese (a name of which I remain proud), and our family cat, Spike, it was not until I adopted the redoubtable Lucy the Dachshund that I knew the true nature of pet parenthood, its attendant joys, and yes, responsibilities. So this month, in honor of Responsible Dog Owner Day, we have put together our own guide to tip top pet parenting. For while there is no greater joy than a loving pet, as with all relationships, there are some non-negotiables. 

Paper work!

Did you know that many jurisdictions require dogs to be licensed? Laws vary by state, but most big municipalities, including New York and Los Angeles, have rules in place. The process is quick and easy, with forms available to complete online in most cases, and the benefits are significant. Vaccinations are linked to licenses, so you can prove your dog’s health status, and as long as you mark the license number on your dog’s collar tag, should she get lost, animal services can identify her and contact you quickly and easily. Plus, the fees (around $10 for a spayed or neutered dog, expect to pay more for an intact dog) are used to support municipal animal shelters. For more information about licenses, click here. Once you have your license and tag, you will need a collar from which to hang it, and, guess what, we have an amazing selection! Whether you are looking for a collar made from recycled materials or perhaps a seasonal selection for rotation throughout the year, we can help. We even have a range of collars with detachable bow ties, perfect for the natty dog-about-town! 

Training!

It is impossible to overstate the importance of training your dog. As well as being a condition for allowing your dog to be off leash in dedicated dog runs (alway check the rules at your local park or recreation ground), the fact is that a trained dog is a happy dog. Dogs thrive on routines, and training provides the basis for this. Dogs are highly social, and training means they can spend time in the company of other dogs and humans without feeling anxious, stressed, or threatened. Dogs are smart, and training gives them the chance to channel their skills and instincts. We could go on! So how to go about it? Treats and YouTube tutorials can help you with the basics of helping your dog figure out how to be a dog, and there are many reputable trainers who can provide more advanced training for dogs of all ages and temperaments. It’s especially important for those who have rescue dogs, many of whom have not been well-cared for, to ensure that your new best friend is given the guidance and support she needs to adjust and thrive. And for those of you in and around the Portland metropolitan area, why not come and see us? We keep an up-to-date list of local trainers, walkers, sitters, and whisperers, as well as a huge selection of petwares with which to, er, incentivize your pup!

Diet!

As is the case with all things, you get out what you put in, and when it comes to nutrition, this is certainly true. Unlike cats, dogs are not strictly carnivorous, so while meat should be their main source of nutrition, grains, fruit, and vegetables are also great sources of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, for dogs. As well as food designed for specific life stages, such specialist puppy recipes, there are also many products designed to address particular concerns, or avoid allergens, or help maintain a healthy weight. It’s important to consult your vet as to the best type of food for your dog, not least since the number of options is pretty enormous, and we carry a large selection of foods to suit all diets. Be it rawgrain freegentle on the tummypuppywet, or dry, we have the goods! We also carry a range of supplements to support the immune system, kidney and liver function, joint health, allergies, and even anti anxiety formulae for anxious pets. Awwww. 

Exercise, AKA, Fun & Games!

The yin to diet’s yang, there is nothing* dogs love more than running about and letting off steam. Imbued with almost limitless energy, dogs depend on exercise to keep them happy, healthy, and sane. As well as helping lower blood pressure and build muscle mass, walking and running keeps boredom at bay, essential unless you enjoy incessant barking, and helps ward off anxiety-driven behaviors such as digging unwanted holes or chewing furniture. And of course the benefit of exercise not only applies to the dog, but to the walker too! Double bubble! To ensure you and your best pal get the most out of your walks, we have a huge range of kit, from stylish leather collar and leash combos and matching knits for the chic, cosmopolitan dog, to off road gear that can stand up to the hardiest of hikes. And for puppies, one of our most popular pieces are these brilliant Wonder Walker Harnesses which are especially suitable for training. The halter places control of your dog around his center of gravity, rather than his head or neck, and moves the training cues from the head and neck to the dog’s body. This makes use of a dog’s instinctive push / pull reflex, called the opposition reflex, fact fans, and the reason why so many dogs pull while on leash — as you pull, they pull back. Instead, this rig is designed to keep your dog from pulling while learning to walk on a loose leash. What’s more, it has five adjustment points that allow it to fit dogs from the small to the tall. Woof! 

*Lucy the almost-17-year-old dachshund wanted me to mention she loves napping too. 

Sleep!

Speaking of napping - YAWN - did you know that adult dogs sleep for about 13 hours a day, with pups and seniors clocking in a whopping 20 HOURS of snooze time? We are so jealous! With all this shut-eye required to keep your dog happy and healthy, a good bed is a must. Our tip top picks are the West Paw Heyday bed, which is covered with a silky-and-textured fabric that’s baby-blanket soft and ultra durable. The micro suede bottom is easy to clean and like all of our beds, it is stuffed with eco-friendly IntelliLoft, because none of us can afford to sleep on caring for the planet. For those who live in the warmer parts of the country, or the most humid - or if you’re really lucky, both - we have a great solution to help your pup stay cool, calm, and collected: the 4Legs4Pets Premium Weave Pet Cot. With a 5" elevation, pets stay clear of hot or damp surfaces, and the breathable open weave mesh cover keeps them cool through increased air circulation. They are very easy to assemble and require no screws, nuts, bolts or tools, and are lightweight too, which makes them ideal for traveling, camping, and boating, or just napping in the backyard! What’s more, with 6 Premium Weave fabric colors and 22 leg colors to choose from, these made-to-order cots are completely customizable so coordinating with your décor is easy! 

It goes without saying that the thing your dog needs most of all can’t be bought, and nor can its value be overestimated - that’s right, your love! Nothing comes close to the joy of a well-loved pet, and those who have them live longer, happier lives. Pet ownership is a two way street, and your investment of time, energy, and love will be repaid many times over. So hug your dogs even tighter today and send them our love too! Until next month, pack! 😘🐕♥️🐾🐩💘


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