The Ten Commandments of Dog Ownership

1. The Golden Rule: Treat your dog as you would like to be treated.

2. Love. Love your dog with all your heart. This is the basic commandment.

3. Shelter. Provide your dog with adequate shelter from the elements. That means inside your house. A doghouse outside isn’t adequate shelter. Privacy. Everyone needs his own space, including your dog. Provide a doggy bedroom — a crate in a room where people hang out when they’re home.

4. Feed Your Dog Right. Give your dog food to eat. Food should be top quality, and should provide complete nutrition. Make it interesting for your dog by providing variety. Nutritional variety is important, too, as there’s no such thing as a perfect dog food on the market today.

5. Physically Stimulate. No one can spend all day and all night sleeping and eating. Even cruise ships offer ways for people to burn of calories. Remember, that dogs, and especially puppies, need to run. Give your dog a play and exercise time each day, preferably several times a day. Find the games your dog likes to play, and commit to fifteen minutes of quality play time. Then commit to a fifteen minute walk time every day, too. It’s good for both of you. The more physical activity you give your dog, the less behavioral problems you’ll have.

6. Health Care. There are some simple steps you must to take to maintain your dog’s health. Puppies need a first physical, a series of vaccinations, and a form of birth control to help prevent overpopulation. All dogs need an annual physical, with vaccinations, and regular parasite control. A monthly five-minute mini-examination by you helps catch  problems before they become major. Regular parasite control is critical in order to prevent major problems from minor pests like fleas, ticks, heartworms, tapeworms and other intestinal worms.

7. Educate. Every dog needs to learn the house rules. If you don’t establish rules for your dog to follow, and explain them in a way your dog can understand, you will find that your dog establishes his own rules — and you better learn to live by them! Basic rules include bathroom outside, don’t wake us when we’re sleeping, don’t beg  for food, don’t jump on people, refrain from barking unless necessary, sleep in the crate, not on the bed. Basic obedience is also important for safety reasons: sit/stay/heel/come/wait/drop it/look at me. Education is mentally stimulating, and exercising the brain leads to a happier dog, with no behavioral problems. Behavioral problems are the leading cause of death in dogs — “bad” dogs end up in the shelters where they are killed, or end up in the back yard as far from the house as possible. A little bit of education can prevent a large number of problems.

8. Communicate. You and your dog speak two different languages. It’s tough for you to fly halfway around the world and function in a city where you can’t speak or read the language. Your dog has the same problem — living in a place where the language and customs are a complete mystery. You must establish a common language with your dog. This can be a mixture of English or any other language, plus dog language, which is primarily body language. Physical language can be understood, too, if you know the right “words.” Once you establish a common language, use it! Communicate with your dog in
a way he’ll understand, and listen when he communicates back. Dogs have plenty to say if you’ll only ask. Two-way communication, based on a common language, is the key to any successful relationship.

9. Give Your Dog A Purpose. Your dog needs to exercise his brain as much as he needs to exercise his body. Education, communication, exercise, play, and yes, even work can all stimulate your dog’s mind and keep him happy. Find things your dog can do to help you around your house and office. There are dogs who deliver mail in the office, pick up faxes from the fax machine, do litter patrol and put trash in the wastebasket (only on command). Your dog can be trained to turn on the light, run the photocopier, lick stamps and do many other tasks.

10. Accept Love. Your dog is a very pure source of love, goodness and energy. Learn to accept the love your dog has for you, and to let that love, goodness and energy flow through you and on to other people in your life. Your dog is an angel waiting to help you in ways no human can. Let the love flow into yourself!

-Ross Becker