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Every day a family welcomes a pet into their home. According to Greger Larson, director of the University of Oxford's palaeogenomic and bi-archaeology research network, dogs, without a doubt, were the first domestic animal. While researchers know they were tamed and used for work, little is known about when dogs moved from primarily providing utility to being pets.
Pet industry statistics and data from the ASPCA indicate there are now roughly 78 million dogs living as pets in households across the United States. The Canadian Pet Outlook Market says Canada is home to roughly six million pet dogs.
While researchers continue on their quest to determine just how and when canines transitioned from being beasts of burdens to best friends, dog lovers can do their share to keep their pets safe and happy.
• Begin with training. One of the best things a pet owner can do for the well-being of a his or her dog is to ensure that it receives proper training from a young age. According to VetWest Animal Hospital experts, statistics show that owners who have pets that behave get more satisfaction and have stronger bonds with their pets. A dog that responds to basic commands can stay out of danger, and knowing what he is supposed to do can help the dog feel less stressed.
• Socialize the pet. Learning how to respond to other dogs and people is an important aspect of canine life. If the pet is to get along with other dogs, it needs to have high exposure to other animals every day and in various scenarios. Socialization can begin as soon as a puppy is immunized and able to venture out with others.
• Spay or neuter the dog. Various animal health experts attest to the benefits of having dogs spayed and neutered. These can include limiting aggression, reducing the need to roam and helping to prevent fights with other animals. Also, spaying and neutering helps keep animal numbers under control.
• Keep licensing up to date. Licensing will keep dogs registered in the area and help have current contact information available. Pet owners often license and microchip their pets to ensure safety all around.
• Exercise the pet. Dogs need daily exercise to maintain healthy body weights and keep them from fits of boredom. A dog that is not properly exercised may engage in destructive behavior around the house to unleash its pent-up energy.
Love and affection are also needed for healthy pets, but pampering should not come at the expense of training and obedience.