10 Tips for Responsible Dog Ownership

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three dogs facing camera, L and R at attention


It’s always dog season in Fairfax County! With more than 87,000 registered pups, many of us love our dogs (or at least like our neighbor’s dog). Of course, there are some people who may not care for excessive barking or dog waste that’s not picked up, too, so it’s important to be a responsible owner.

It’s in that spirit we present this simple list of 10 ways to be a responsible dog owner in our county.

1.) Identify Your Pet

Make sure your dog wears a collar with a current license and ID tag and has a microchip with up-to-date information.

2.) Vaccinate Your Dog

Proof of a valid rabies vaccine is required for licensing your dog in Fairfax County. Check with your vet to determine what other vaccines are most appropriate for your dog.

3.) Get Your Dog Licensed

All dogs four months and older must have a license which is renewed annually.

4.) Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Each year, three to four million homeless pets are euthanized in the United States. By spaying or neutering, you are doing your part to reduce pet overpopulation. Dogs that have this routine surgery tend to have longer, healthier lives and are less likely to roam.

5.) Enroll Your Dog in a Training or Obedience Class

Positive training will allow you to control your dog’s behavior safely and provides a terrific opportunity to enhance the bond you share with your dog. Training builds communication, understanding and mutual respect. The Park Authority offers basic and advanced obedience classes. Register by visiting Parktakes Online.

6.) Keep Your Dog Physically Fit

Up to 45 percent of pets in the United States are overweight or obese. To keep your dog happy and healthy, make sure you exercise your dog every day. Twice daily walks are enough for some dogs while others benefit from the additional exercise, play time and socialization they get from regular visits to a dog park.

7.) Obey Leash Laws

In Fairfax County, dogs are required to be on a leash at all times in public areas unless they’re in a designated off-leash area.

8.) Clean Up After Your Dog

Pick up dog waste and dispose of it in a public trash can or at home. Dog waste is not only unsightly, but it pollutes groundwater and is harmful to wildlife.

9.) Protect Your Dog From the Elements

If the temperature outside is too cold or hot for you, it is also too cold or hot for your pet. Pets should be kept indoors and never leave your pet in a car when the outside temperature is above 70 degrees.

10.) Give Your Dog Companionship

Dogs left alone for long hours are more likely to exhibit undesirable behaviors including aggression and separation anxiety. If you are away from your home long hours, consider hiring a dog walker or getting a companion for your pet. The Animal Shelter has lots of loving pets waiting to meet you!

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