A dog owner may have acquired the animal to be used as a guard dog, for breeding or, unfortunately, for use in medical experiments. However, for most of us owning a dog is all about the animal being a pet and maybe even part of the family. Having owned quite a few dogs over a thirty odd year period, here is a little of what I have learned.

Currently, as an owner of two rescue dogs, I have very personal opinions about the relationship between a dog owner and a pet. Despite owning a dog, initially, being the last thing on my mind, I have grown to be a dog lover, over the years. In fact, these days I adore all dogs. I love them nowadays, no matter what breed, shape or size of dog. It is safe to say that I just love dogs.

Once you become a dog owner, you have a huge responsibility, if you are going to do the job properly. Dogs need heaps of love, food, water, health checks by you and a veterinarian, somewhere warm to sleep, regular grooming, bathing, discipline and a pack leader to follow. Of course, there are a million and one other things.

Our two current dogs have lived with us now for about six years and five years. They were certainly the sad face of 21st Century animal neglect in the UK, when they came to us. They are wonderful now but, as when a person is mistreated, they do carry psychological scars still and plenty of psychological baggage.

Some of the strange initial behaviour displayed by these dogs included:-

  • Being terrified of the dark at the back of our house. This meant that we had to have a light fitted outside of the house and leave it on constantly after dark.
  • Being very scared of raised voices, particularly those of men.
  • Being terrified of young men in baseball caps and crash helmets, and having a general nervousness of anything out of the ordinary.

When you see a dog like mine, out walking on a lead, and the dog suddenly darts behind its owner's legs cowering, previous maltreatment or cruelty could be the explanation.

We probably spoil our dogs now because of their bad start in life but we still have to remember some basic rules.

You must always try to remember to enter the house in the correct pecking order. The pecking order must have the humans at the top and the dogs at the bottom. If not your dog may rule your home or worse.

Dogs like routine, order and to be lead. In fact, they need such treatment. You can always tell an owner whose dog is boss of the house. So make it easy on yourself and lay down some basic ground rules from the start.

Dogs can be loyal animal friends, who are sensitive to your moods. However, they are animals and as such, your dog is your responsibility. If your dog makes a mess, in the street, that is fouls on the pavement, then you should clear it up. Even though I have pets, I am furious if I find such dog mess outside my house. There is no need for it and it is a health issue. The dog knows no better but the owner should.

Of course, all dogs and their owners have different relationships. Dogs should not be baby substitutes but they are to some owners. For me it is unacceptable to see a dog treat as a baby. On the other hand, I hate to see dogs kept outside and not allowed into the home. Unless the dog is a guard dog, it feels inappropriate. If a dog is a pet, it should be included in your home. However, it is really a case of to each his own.

Just make sure that you love your dog, have its best interests at heart and remember it is your pet for life. This means through the good and bad years, and the old and young ones also.

Far too many people simply wave goodbye to their responsibilities when the going gets tough, as a dog owner. Do not let this be you. If you feel that you may be unable to care for a dog properly, for example, paying for its veterinary treatments, then perhaps being a dog owner is not for you right now.