Sixty percent of Spanish families share their home with a pet. This revealing percentage gives us a reason to reflect on how important it is to integrate pets into society. To accomplish this, pet owners should respect people who have freely decided not to share their home with an animal. And, conversely, these people should respect the decision of those who do.
In the case of dogs, it is vital for them to be raised within what will be their closest social environment: the family unit, their neighbours, and the community. Owners must be involved and make sure that their pet’s exposure to different relationships is pleasurable and problem-free. To do so, they must begin with their own family.
Your pet’s existence within your family unit will be more successful if it is chosen with care. You should choose the most appropriate animal for your circumstances: do not act on impulse or appearance. Your pet should be able to adapt to the characteristics and possibilities of your home.
Family consensus is crucial. Every family member should agree to follow the same pet education guidelines, to be firm with the pet’s schedule and routine, and to place him at the bottom of the family ladder. This will provide a problem-free relationship for all the members of the group.
It is also indispensable to adapt the responsibilities of children and senior members of the household towards caring for a pet. Everybody should pitch in so they are recognized as higher up in the family hierarchy, but without exceeding their capabilities.
Pet owners have certain obligations outside the home that are set forth in different laws and byelaws. Be informed, since you will be held responsible for your animal’s actions: “ignorance of the law is no defence.”
Besides following you legal obligations, you must behave responsibly and use common sense and good manners. A dog owner should never forget that many people do not wish to share their life with animals, and that some are even afraid of them. You should be tremendously respectful of these people. The correct attitude will help to integrate your pet into society.
However, this is not easy to do. Many people are tired of listening to their neighbour’s dog barking at all times, of seeing loose animals on the street, of having to avoid excrements on pavements.
Humans and animals living together in our society can and should be a gratifying experience for all, and it depends, almost exclusively, on the behaviour of those who share their life with animals every day.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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