10-Step Pet Welfare Rating

By Lisa Spector,  Juilliard Graduate, Canine Music Expert and co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear.

During a recent visit to Whole Food Market, a brochure caught my eye, titled “5-Step Animal Welfare Rating: Your Way of Knowing How our Meat Animals are Raised.” Being a vegetarian, I never paid much attention to this in the past. In reviewing it, I was very impressed by the standards set. Ratings were based on environmental enrichment, enhanced outdoor access, length of transport, etc. Contributing factors to being acceptable conditions included no cages or crowding, no physical alterations (including beak trimming of birds, tail docking, tooth clipping, de-tusking, disk nose rings, castration, etc.) and bedding. Animals sold at Whole Foods must have had plenty of room to live, i.e. birds could spread their wings while in cages, and there was sufficient space in housing for pigs to exercise, lie and move freely.

Reading the brochure inspired thought about our pets. What if there were a 5-Step pet welfare rating with  requirements to meet before you could adopt a pet? What would they be? I’m being challenged limiting it to 5, so here are my 10 requirements for being a dog parent. Please note that I don’t have cats or other pets, so I don’t feel qualified to write about them. Please post your comments on your suggested prerequisites that  any pet parent should provide.

1. Provide daily exercise, both on and off leash (when you have taught your dog a reliable recall).

2. Provide food with high nutritional value.

3. Provide mental stimulation. Possibilities include agility, nose work, canine musical freestyle, rally, dock diving, tricks, and more.

4. Train using non-aversive training methodology.

5. Provide indoor shelter during cold and hot weather, and regular outdoor access.

6. Provide the best medical care you can afford.

7.  See and experience your dog from their world. We ask them to adapt to our human world. They study everything we do and have a brilliant understanding of human body language. It’s only fair, that we study and understand their body language. This is how they communicate. Included in this requirement is being aware of our human sensory environment that we have asked our animals to live in, and provide environmental enrichment to relieve their stress.

8. Socialize them so they are comfortable around humans and canines. (Socializing should not be done in a dog park.)

9. Crate train them so that they associate a crate as someplace safe, comfortable and fun. (Of course, the younger the dog, the easier this is. There maybe exceptions for dogs that are adopted later in life.)

10. Love. Love. Love.

Thanks for clicking comment below and adding your suggestions for pet welfare guidelines.

As co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my Care2 readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.

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Heather M
Heather Marv3 years ago

Good info thanks.

Anna H.
Anna H.3 years ago

Lisa notes that with crate training, "There maybe exceptions for dogs that are adopted later in life". This reminds me of something I read on a crate training blog. It talked about how if your puppy or dog is from a puppy mill, that housebreaking your dog with a crate will most likely be very hard. I hate puppy mills, but it was a pretty cool post. Search or Puppy Mill on the blog of this site: www.CozyDogCrates.com
I actually crate trained my dog from most of the info from that blog.

Valentina R.
Valentina R.3 years ago

Basic, useful tips for every dog owner out there.

Melissa Franklin
Melissa Franklin3 years ago

There should ALWAYS be certain requirements met before you're allowed to adopt a pet

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago


Ellie Damann
.3 years ago


Akila K.
Akila K.4 years ago

love is all

Akila K.
Akila K.4 years ago


carlee trent
carlee trent4 years ago


Tami Mendoza
Tami Mendoza4 years ago