Dogs are beloved pets, service animals (such as seeing eye dogs), protection (watch dogs).
Pets can provide wonderful rewards for the other residents of the home. People with pets live longer. Dogs can help provide protection -- as a warning system for residents, to scare off burglars or even as trained attack dogs. Pets act as service animals; they can help compensate for the loss of sight, hearing or mobility. On a farm or in some other situations, dogs are part of the family workforce. Dogs may help herd sheep, cattle, etc. Although normally we think more of cats for pest control, dogs can help scare or chase away rodents and other animals that don't belong in or around your home. Pets' antics can provide amusement. And probably best of all, dogs provide companionship, loyalty and love. They provide a listening ear or unconditional love on our worst days and a playmate and walking or exercise buddy, making dogs a beloved member of many households.
With pets, come responsibilities. It is good to keep in mind that as much as some of us love our dogs, some people are scared of them or allergic to them. A poorly trained or controlled dog can cause harm. Many places consider the pet owner responsible for any harm done by their pets. Dogs that are not under control (either by physical restraint, training or some other means) can cause harm by bites, by chasing livestock, by chewing or scratching things they shouldn't. And they can cause harm to themselves by eating things they shouldn't, running into traffic, etc. When an allergy is mild or the exposure is short, people with allergies can be around dogs. It can help if the dog has been recently washed, is of a short haired or low-dander breed and if there is an air filtering system in the home -- some air filters are made specifically for this purpose and they can be very helpful. Then there are people who are scared of dogs or who come from a culture which considers dogs as scary or dirty. It's useful to be able to separate your dogs and any such guests in different parts of your home.
What should people know to keep their pets, residents and guests safe?
- make sure your dog has access to shade and water on hot days
- provide a warm, sheltered place for your dog on cold days
- protect your dog from various poisoning sources