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What Are Your Responsibilities as a Dog Owner?

dog owner responsibilitiesAlthough your loveable dog may be treated like another member of your family, pet ownership comes with some serious responsibilities. Dog bites, or attacks, often result in major injuries and emotional trauma. Most animals have great manners, but even the most well trained dogs can have their moments. Old age, illness or a stressful situation can make your pet act out of character. Being a responsible pet owner means keeping your dog safe and ensuring the safety of the other pets and humans that you come in contact with.

Dog ownership rules are outlined in Ontario’s Dog Owner’s Liability Act. This law states that regardless of the circumstance, dog owners are responsible if their pet bites someone else. The consequences of a law suit vary, based on the circumstances that led to the attack and the severity of the injuries, but ultimately the owner is always responsible.

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to control your dog at all times when you are out in public. Using a leash is a good practice and promotes safety for your dog as well. Even the most well behaved dogs can become distracted in a busy area and put themselves in harm’s way.

Although leash free parks provide a secure area where your dog can run free, you still need to be careful. Familiarize yourself with the park’s rules, and never leave your dog unattended. Like people, not all dogs get along with everyone they meet. If you notice your pet is feeling threatened or acting aggressively, take the appropriate measures to remove both of you from harm’s way.

Even though many people are dog lovers themselves, you should never assume that someone is comfortable when approached by your dog. Never let your pet jump on anyone. Dog scratches are painful and can damage clothing or puncture the skin. Perhaps your dog means no harm, but it is always better to be cautious when introducing your pet to others.

Never leave your dog unattended with children, even if they are your own. Children are especially vulnerable to dog bites because they are within easy reach and don’t always know how to treat the animal. Something as simple as a child reaching for a dog’s dish can cause the animal to feel threatened and react defensively. Teach your kids how to respect your dog’s space and utilize a crate or baby gates to allow for some separation when required.

Owning a dog can bring you and your family many years of joy and happy memories. Being a responsible pet owner and following the guidelines provided in Ontario’s Dog Owner’s Liability Act will help you avoid an unfortunate accident. Whether you are the victim or the dog owner, this type of conflict takes a toll on both parties. Consider your dog’s well being and don’t take chances that could put you or your pet in a difficult situation.

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