Your dog is your four-legged best friend, your confidant, and your trusted companion through life. Canine guardianship also comes with a big bundle of parent-like responsibilities. From your home life together to your adventures out in the wide, wide world, here are 5 big ways your dog brings “adulting” into your life.
1. Adulting means taking care of business – literally.
Walking your dog is probably your most basic responsibility as a good dog parent. Walks = elimination, exercise, relaxation, and enrichment.
Luckily, the diaper-bag of dogdom is a lot smaller than the huge duffle of baby stuff that human parents lug around. All you need to take care of your dog’s business are a few poop bags and your essential dooloop to tuck them out of the way. Your dooloop will keep your hands free for play and petting, and your pockets available for training treats.
As simple as walking your dog might seem, it’s an absolutely essential task and sometimes you can’t go-it alone. Your career or the emergencies of life will sometimes intrude on those daily outings. Even if you’re a loner, you’ll need to adult-up for the sake of your dog and forge relationships with dog-loving friends, neighbors, or even hire a dog-walking professional to be there when you can’t.
Adding a dog to your life means you’ll need a few other humans as your pup’s back-up posse, no matter how independent you and your family may be.
2. It’s up to you to make breakfast, pack lunch and deliver dinner.
Being a canine guardian also means some serious adulting when it comes to your dog’s diet. You aren’t just bringing home the bacon, you're choosing the best groceries possible to help your dog live a long and healthy life. Even if you decide to disdain vegetables and eat fast food every day, a junk food diet isn’t a responsible option for your dog.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the pet food information out there. There’s a riot of different brands on store shelves. At its most basic, the food you choose for your dog should have a statement of nutritional adequacy on the label from The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). While it seems like a no-brainer that meat should be the first ingredient in a quality dog food, remember that “meat” and “meat by-products” also include water weight. The second or third ingredient may actually be larger by actual volume, so pay attention to all of the top ingredients. Want to dive deep into the mystique of pet food labels? The FDA has it all broken down.
If you’re baffled by all of the brands that are out there, how can you be sure the food you’ve chosen is a good one? Your best bet is to ask your veterinarian. Your vet’s advice will understandably change over time based on the age, weight, and health of your dog.
It’s important to hop on the scale with your dog now and then and pay attention if collars and halters get snug or loose. Sudden weight gains or losses can indicate that you may need to cut back on the treats, or there could be a hidden health issue that your vet should check out.
3. You’ll need to do more than just kiss the boo-boos.
As a dog parent, you are the home health aide for your dog at all stages of life. That means making certain your dog has regular veterinary care. You’ll need to have a handle on basic info like what vaccines your dog needs and how often. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has a great guide. Your dog should see a veterinarian at least once a year and may also need to be on regular preventatives for fleas, ticks and heartworm.
Just like a human mom or dad, a savvy dog parent needs to know when their “kid” isn't feeling well. Spend some time getting to know your dog’s usual behavior. How long does he normally like to walk before getting tired? How long will she play chase before flopping down to end the game? If your dog suddenly shortens playtime or growls when they never have before, that’s a heads-up that they aren’t feeling their best. Your veterinarian will appreciate that you have a baseline to judge your dog’s normal behavior.
Adulting may not mean being an absolute master at everything in life, but you’ll find yourself becoming a bit of an expert on things that are close to your heart. Need a little help keeping up on all things “dog?” Your Dog is a great monthly newsletter from Tuft’s University that offers the latest in dog health and behavior. You can also get monthly tips (like this article!) by subscribing to our Dooloop email list.
4. Adulting as a good neighbor
Having a canine sidekick also helps you create new connections with people around you. In one study, 42% of pet owners reported receiving social support from people they first got to know through their pet. Walking your dog is a great way to meet neighbors and forge real relationships.
Dog parents have a big advantage when it comes to showing off good citizenship by taking responsibility for your dog’s behavior. Neighbors will notice that you keep your dog safely leashed, scoop your pup’s poop, and are careful and conscientious when introducing your pet to other people, dogs and cats. In return for their trust, you can count on your neighbors to be on the alert if they see your dog on a solo jaunt or if they hear mournful howling in your house when you are away. Your dog’s biggest neighborhood fans may even be willing to fill in for dog-walking duties in a pinch!
As a dog walker, you are also in a unique position to keep an eye out in your community. You and your dog are a powerhouse neighborhood-watch team. If a neighbor could use a little help, you’ll probably also be one of the first people to notice.
Check to see if your neighborhood has a local email listserv or is on Nextdoor.com. It’s a great way to get to know your community.
5. You, your dog and the earth: the ultimate in adulting
Scooping your dog’s poop may seem like an awfully tiny first step in caring for the earth, but it’s the perfect evidence that you are willing to clean up after yourself. Chances are good you are willing to work on your global impact as well.
Your dooloop isn’t just a poop-bag holder – it works to help carry the trash that humans leave behind, too. Once in a while you can do “double-doodie” cleanup by picking up the litter you see on your walk. Your dooloop is large enough to hold two or more bags – so bring one for dog waste and one for human trash. Just make sure to use hand sanitizer if you’re cleaning up trash or someone else's abandoned poop-bag.
Walking is also the ideal eco-friendly past-time. Why go for a drive when you and your dog can hike instead?
You’ve probably found yourself shopping for your pup almost as often as you shop for yourself. Choose earth-friendly products when they are available. Here are just a few options:
- If you don’t live in a rural area where you can scoop and bury your pup’s poop, you probably go through a lot of poop bags – especially if you have more than one dog. Choose compostable and flushable bags to reduce your impact. Be sure to check that flushing pup poop in a bag is allowed in your municipality – but even when not flushed, “flushable” bags degrade more quickly than standard plastic bags.
- Your dog will go through quite a few toys, collars, leashes, and halters over a long and energetic life. Look for pet products manufactured by companies with a commitment toward sustainability, like Cliffhound, Metro Paws, West Paw, Petmate, Ecobark and others.
- Spills and piddles are unavoidable when you own a dog, but you don’t have to resort to harsh chemicals for clean-up. Keep vinegar water and baking soda handy in a spray bottle to catch accidents quickly and choose a non-toxic shampoo for your dog.
It’s the ultimate act of adulting to share responsible ideas with others in a friendly way. Think “earth-friendly” for gift-giving during the upcoming holidays. At less than $10, the dooloop is a great stocking stuffer for dog owners. Bundle it with compostable bags and a new handcrafted collar and leash made from earth-friendly materials, and you’ve got a gift that checks all the boxes for the conscientious dog lover.
Feeling grown-up yet? Pick up a dooloop for yourself, or as a gift for a friend or neighbor, and you’ll make one very important part of adulting with dogs a whole lot easier.