How to be a Good Dog Owner: 7 Easy Steps for Happy Pups

Key takeaways

We may think that all dogs are bundles of unending energy and happiness, but it's not always the case.

In fact, they need an owner who will ensure all of their needs are met to make sure they are content and healthy.

We're exploring the 7 best ways to be a good dog owner that'll not only enrich your dog's life but will make yours a lot easier, too!

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  1. Key takeaways
  2. 7 Ways to be a good dog owner
  3. FAQs
  4. Final thoughts

7 Ways to be a good dog owner

Every pet parent wants to be the best dog owner. However, it can be more difficult than we first realize. It takes plenty of knowledge, patience, and love, and sometimes we can become complacent.

1. Feed your dog a healthy diet

Each dog has specific needs. And this includes nutrients. Surprisingly, the diet you should be feeding your dog can depend on their breed. For example, dog breeds with a lot of muscle will need plenty of protein to maintain their mass.
Other factors that impact your dog's dietary needs include:

Age: Puppies will need plenty of different nutrients to help them grow. For example, foods high in calcium will help their bones develop. Older dogs will need food that helps their joints as they become stiff in old age.

Coat: Dogs with long coats will need food that helps keep their fur healthy and luscious. Without this, they can become dull and coarse, and sometimes fur can fall out if they are deficient in an important nutrient.

Size: It's important to get your portions right to prevent obesity or underfeeding. This will relate directly to your dog's size, so do your research!

Health: Food can make a huge difference in healing and living with health problems. If your dog has any specific health issues, you should chat with your vet to get advice on the best diet for them.

A happy dog sat next to a bowl of food
Top Tip: Many dog food brands claim to contain all the ingredients your furry friend needs, but it's not always true. Start reading the back of the packets and find the right brand for your pup.

2. Take your dog to the vets

A good pet owner is a proactive one. Taking your dog for regular checkups means you can stay on top of their health and catch any potential problems early.
It's advised to take puppies to the vet every 3-4 weeks. This is so they can get their vaccinations and make sure they are developing as they should. For adult dogs, a once-a-year checkup is all they need, and for senior dogs, every 6 months will make sure any potential health issues are dealt with quickly.
This is the standard advice for the average pet parent. However, you should always be observing your dog's behavior. Our furry friends are masters of hiding illness and injury, so look out for the following:

Change in appetite

Acting withdrawn

Acting clingy



Excessive licking

This is the standard advice for the average pet parent. However, you should always be observing your dog's behavior.

A dog being checked at the vet
Expert Insight: There is a lot of misinformation online, so don't just search your dog's symptoms. Always get professional advice as soon as possible.

3. Get your dog microchipped

In most countries, it is now the law to get your dog microchipped. As a responsible pet owner, you should ensure your dog is chipped for their safety.
A microchip is a tiny chip that shows an ID number when it is scanned. It is inserted in a quick and simple procedure underneath the skin between your dog's shoulder blades. The ID number will link to your profile on a database where your contact details will be kept.
The first step any animal shelter or vet will take if a lost dog is handed to them is scanning for a microchip. Then, they'll be able to contact the owner and reunite the pup with their family as soon as possible.
If your dog doesn't have a chip and becomes lost, they may be mistaken for a stray. This could lead to them getting put up for adoption or even being euthanized.
A dog having their microchip scanned
Expert Insight: Microchipping your dog can also keep them safe against the threat of theft. If your dog is stolen and sold, the new owners will take them to be scanned, and it will show your contact details.

4. Ensure they are mentally stimulated

Mental stimulation is an important part of a dog's life. They are incredibly intelligent animals, and without adequate entertainment and stimulation, they can become withdrawn, anxious, and even depressed.
While walks are great opportunities for this, with their new smells and sights, the same routine every day or leaving your dog alone for too long can cause problems.
To tackle this, try the following:

Invest in toys: Toys aren't just for a new puppy. All dogs should have access to a diverse range of toys that can stimulate different parts of their brain. Try puzzle feeders for reward-based playtime and a tug-of-war rope for bonding time.

Interactive play: It's also important not to rely on just toys. Interactive play can offer an opportunity for you and your dog to bond, as well as providing a fun and entertaining form of stimulation. Try hide and seek or racing!

Don't leave them alone: If you have to leave your dog alone, make sure it's not for over a few hours. Dogs are pack animals, meaning that to feel relaxed, safe, and secure, they need to be surrounded by other animals. Without this, they can experience separation anxiety.

Training: A well-behaved dog can make your life easier. But did you know your dog will actually enjoy training sessions? Well, it's true! Our furry friends love to please us, and they love to learn. This means learning a new trick can stimulate their brains, improve their mood, and help them bond with you.

An owner taking their dog for a walk

Our furry friends love to please us, and they love to learn. This means learning a new trick can stimulate their brains, improve their mood, and help them bond with you.

5. Ensure they get plenty of exercise

Physical exercise is a key component of a dog's life. Their physical make-up is designed for running, with strong muscular legs and great stamina, meaning they'll feel an instinctual need to run.
Without regular exercise, you may risk:

Your dog becoming overweight: Ensuring your dog is at the correct weight is essential. If they become overweight, it can put undue stress on their joints, heart, and muscles, leading to other health problems.

Your dog experiencing anxiety: Without exercise, your dog may feel stressed. Ongoing stress can trigger their fight-or-flight instinct, which can cause anxiety and depression and can even lead to them running away.

Your dog's joints and bones deteriorating: Without regular use, your dog's muscles will deteriorate alongside their joints. This can cause a lot of pain and lead to a tired dog all the time.

While the physical benefits of exercise may be obvious, the mental benefits of getting outside and exploring are often underestimated. On your walks, make sure you let your dog sniff. They have an instinctual attraction to new smells and marking their territory, so don't deprive them of this.

While the physical benefits of exercise may be obvious, the mental benefits of getting outside and exploring are often underestimated.

A dog running away from its owner
Top Tip: It's also a good idea to change up your regular walks often. Why not go for longer hikes or explore different terrain, like a beach or a mountain, rather than the regular stroll around the block?

6. Train them

A good dog owner is one that is responsible for their dog's behavior. This is why training from a young age is important. It will not only make your life easier, but it will enrich your dog's life and allow them to experience more freedom while remaining safe.
You should introduce some house rules first. This will mean your dog will be able to visit other people's houses and understand how to behave. Some important rules to put in place include:

Not sitting on furniture

Not chewing/biting furniture

Not eating leftovers

Responding to the 'sit' and 'stay' command

Once you have got your dog used to being obedient and following your commands, you can train them to specific commands to keep them safe on walks. One of the most important things is being able to call your dog's name so that they can return to you. This can keep them safe if they approach other dogs that may not be as friendly.
An owner hugging their dog
Top Tip: Practice your training in dog parks. These are secure and safe areas where your dog can explore and socialize while practicing their recall training.

7. Socialize them

Socializing your dog makes you a better owner. Depriving our dogs of meeting other animals and people is not only cruel, but it can cause them to be reactive in the future.
To ensure your new dog grows up to be a well-adjusted, experienced, and calm dog, you need to introduce them to a variety of situations and experiences from a young age. By making these early experiences positive, you'll help your dog become confident.
To do this, try the following:

Introduce your dog to other pets: Ensuring your dog understands how to interact with other animals will mean they will stay safe on walks and visiting other people's houses. This is also a great way for your dog to make friends and have some fun playtime!

Introduce your dog to children: It's essential that your dog is not a danger to children. They should be taught to be gentle and calm around kids, and this will only happen if you introduce this experience early on. Make sure you have full control over your dog when you start this kind of socializing.

Take your dog on adventures: Taking your dog on travels with you will get them used to plenty of different scenarios. Public transport, busy cities, and wide open beaches are all confronting experiences for your dog, but if you're there with them, making sure the outcome is positive, it won't phase them in later life.

A dog socializing in a dog park
Sometimes, we can't help the way our dogs react to environments and certain people. If you do have a reactive dog, invest in some professional training. If this still doesn't help, then it may just be your dog's disposition and personality. Make sure you keep them on the leash and don't put them in situations that may cause stress.


What do dog owners need the most?

A new owner should have a few essential things when their dog arrives, and these include: A dog bed, dog food, poo bags, a leash, and a brush.

What makes someone a good pet owner?

A good pet owner is someone who understands the responsibility of owning a pet. They will also show lots of love, compassion, and devotion to their furry friend.

What are the 7 basic needs of a dog?

The seven basic needs of a dog include: A healthy diet, fresh water, physical exercise, attention, a warm and safe house, love, and mental stimulation.

What is the hardest thing about being a dog owner?

The hardest thing about being a dog owner is the distress and worry for their wellbeing. If your dog gets injured, sick, or becomes lost, it can be a heartbreaking situation.

Do dogs have emotional needs?

Yes, dogs do have emotional needs. They need attention, mental stimulation, and love in order to live a happy and healthy life.

What does a dog need to be happy?

A dog needs physical exercise, mental stimulation, attention, and a healthy diet to be happy.

Final thoughts

Not everyone asks the question of how to be a good dog owner, so just the fact that you're here, reading this article, shows that you love your little furry friend!
Keeping your dog happy is simple. Give them plenty of cuddles and treats, and explore the world together.

Written by

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Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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