Every third Saturday in September, on September 17 this year, the U.S. celebrates Responsible Dog Ownership Day. Designed to get all pet parents to ‘pawse’ and remember the promises they made to their ‘furever’ friends, Responsible Dog Ownership Day encourages people to commit to their loyal pooches, the right way. This day falls right in the middle of Responsible Dog Ownership Month. Most affiliate organizations of the sponsoring company host this day around the same time, but not necessarily on the same date (e.g., they have it on Sunday, instead of Saturday).
History of Responsible Dog Ownership Day
Our furry buddies have been around for a long long time, but how exactly did they go from being wild to living in our homes? The topic of doggy domestication and evolution from wolves — yes, this has been proven — is hotly debated. Scientists put this event of domestication as one of the greatest events in human history, but many also agree that evidence shows various independent domestication events all over the world. This makes pinpointing a date very difficult.
One particular study puts this domestication down to about 40,000 years ago. Studies on dog fossils from this period show a relation to modern European dogs. The changes in those specimens versus present-day dogs put the period of domestication between 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. These dogs then moved with migrating humans, breeding, and interbreeding to evolve into the current canine breeds.
As for how this domestication occurs, again, there is no common consensus. Some theories believe people somehow captured wolf pups and kept them as pets, gradually domesticating them. Another theory believes wolves are self-domesticated, with the friendliest integrating themselves with the hunter-gatherers of that age.
The American Kennel Club (AKC), a not-for-profit organization, operates in the U.S. and maintains a registry of purebred dogs around the world. They also oversee the sport of purebred dogs in the U.S. In 2003, these guys began organizing Responsible Dog Ownership Days annually across the U.S. They host the flagship event in Raleigh, North Carolina each year, and invite their 5,000-odd affiliated dog clubs and pet organizations to host their own events. Most of these events consist of educational booths, dog demonstrations, games, human-and-dog activities, health clinics, and more.
Responsible Dog Ownership Day timeline
Fossils of what most people believe to be the first domesticated dogs from this age are excavated; there are several older fossils of what appear to be dogs or not-quite-wolves although no official consensus has been reached yet.
They appear all around the world, although they do not resemble today's pets; these are free-breeding canines that don't live in any specific home.
The American Kennel Club is founded this year.
The American Kennel Club promotes and organizes the Responsible Dog Ownership Day on their 119th anniversary, to encourage a better bond between canines and their human parents.
Responsible Dog Ownership Day FAQs
What is a responsible dog owner?
A few key points to being a responsible pet parent means keeping and loving your dog for its entire life. It also means you understand and have the financial means to look after your dog for anything it might need.
What is the biggest responsibility of owning a dog?
Some dog (and pet) owner responsibilities include getting them regular exercise and check-ups, proper feeding, appropriate socializing with other dogs (and animals), training them, and giving them lots of attention.
How do you prove ownership of a dog?
You can register (which is not always mandatory), microchip your dog, get them identifying tags, keep a recent photo of them, have all adoption or purchase records, and consider getting a pet agreement form.
How To Celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Day
Refresh your pet-care basics
While you would not forget anything essential to your pet's care, it is always nice to have a reminder of important vaccinations, updates on new methods of grooming, etc. Check out the resources on the AKC website for help, and don't forget to lend a helping hand to new pet parents.
Attend AKC's (or its affiliates') events
They host events for responsible dog ownership around the same time each year. If you cannot personally attend an event, you can check for virtual updates on the AKC Facebook page.
Watch a dog movie
Pick a canine-centered movie of your choice — maybe even the 2018 adventure film 'Alpha' that explores a theory about the very first dog-human partnership — grab the popcorn, and enjoy.
5 Fun Facts About The Dog-Human Relationship
Oxytocin bonding between two species
Dogs and humans are the only examples of a cross-species bond that causes the secretion of oxytocin, a hormone related to maternal bonding and trust.
Dogs ask their humans for help
A study showed that, unlike wolves, dogs rely on human cooperation when presented with impossible problems like a puzzle box that won't open.
Dogs understand problem-solving
Even better than children, as a Yale study proved; the dogs could figure out which actions were necessary to problem-solve, and ignore all the 'bad advice' they got from adults.
Assisted pet therapy was an accidental discovery
American psychologist Boris M. Levinson accidentally found that taking his dog to therapy sessions helped the more withdrawn and uncommunicative children.
Why dogs look into our eyes
Most dogs will stare into a human's eyes (and face) for social cues; they can soon figure out what the human is interested in and even what they intend to do next.
Why We Love Responsible Dog Ownership Day
Our furry friends are taken care of
Ensuring dogs are happy and healthy is a vital part of our job as dog owners. This day helps us focus on this important task and share the knowledge with other potential pet parents too.
Strengthen the pet-human bond
You are taking care of your fur babies' needs the way they look after yours. You are essentially building an even deeper bond between the two of you.
You become a better pet parent
Being a responsible pet owner means you look after your pet's every need, including safety, training, vaccinations, etc. You get a healthy and happy canine companion at the end of it all.
Responsible Dog Ownership Day dates