Getting a new dog is definitely exciting, especially if you've never had one before. You can't expect to be perfect, but it's definitely going to save some time and effort if you learn from other people's mistakes. Even the most well-intentioned dog owner might be guilty of some of these common mistakes!
Owning a dog can really add value and joy to your life, but it requires a certain investment of both money and time. It's a serious commitment. Choosing a wrong dog breed, and certain mistakes can impact a dog's health or behavior for the rest of his life.
Statistics show that 30% of dog owners give up their pets simply because of perceived behavioral problems, as per Ohio State University. Looking at it closer, all of this could've been avoided if only new pet owners knew a few more things about dog ownership.
It can save you a lot of inconvenience and heartache to do things right from the start. The best advice any new dog owner can take is to learn from trusted sources. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child – even a furry one.
Before you bring a dog home you need to build your village. Chat with experienced dog owners, and ask for their advice. Find a veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter and any other professional that you may need in your corner. It won't help you to avoid every mistake, but at least you'll have well-trained help if something does go wrong.
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15 Mistakes Even The Best Dog Owners Can Make
1 They use ineffective or dangerous training techniques
Using the wrong type of training for your dog isn't just a waste of time, it can actually be dangerous. Focusing on punishment can cause fear, anxiety and aggression or damage your relationship forever.
Just because you saw it on TV or read it on the Internet, that doesn't mean it will work for you or your dog. Look for science-based advice and build on what works for you. Make sure everyone in the house is on the same page too.
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2 They aren't careful enough in public spaces
Dog parks sound like a dog's idea of paradise, but any public space can have its dangers. Just because you've socialized your dog to be comfortable and well-behaved with other animals, that doesn't mean other owners have put in the same effort. Dogs can still get into fights and get hurt.
Teach your dog caution and to stay close to you in public. Avoid unfamiliar, public situations until your pet has the training to obey you, even when he's excited. Be aware of how much noise your dog makes at home too, so he doesn't disturb your neighbors. If you're going to a dog park, then there are certain rules you and your pup need to know.
3 They don't supervise their dog with young children or strangers
All vets urge dog owners to not leave a child under 10 unsupervised with a dog. This rule applies to family members and your family dog too. You can never be 100 percent certain how even the friendliest dog is going to behave when he’s scared or threatened, and you never know what a child might do that a dog might find unpredictable.
Some dog owners seem to take their canine companions everywhere. While an emotional bond like that is admirable, not everyone shares our passion. Some people aren't comfortable around dogs at all, and that fear can confuse a dog. Teach your dog to sit and get to know strangers gradually.
Don't encourage strangers to pet your dog right away either. It's important to socialize your pet so he behaves properly with new people, but he can't learn to respect a stranger's space if he has no personal space of his own.
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4 They don't clean up after themselves
It might surprise you, but in a LawnStarter survey, almost 1 in 10 chose dogs as their top complaint. A problem with a badly trained dog is perfectly understandable, but many are annoyed just by normal dog behavior.
What can be more natural than a dog going to the bathroom outside, up against a tree, or on a fence? If you don't want to give dogs a bad name, clean up after your pet and teach him not to trespass on private property. There's tons of other good reasons to do that.
They buy things dogs don't really need
If you ask someone with a vested interest in selling you a product, it's pretty likely they're going to up-sell you on something you don't need or try to get you to spend more money than necessary.
Shopping online can be helpful. For example, pharmaceuticals can be 10–20 percent cheaper online, but be sure to check that the seller is a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site.
Do some research and ask around, but consider the source of the information. Ask other dog owners about the pet supplies they use. If you're shopping for something specific, ask a professional in the field. For example, if you're trying to find the best pet brush for your dog, consider asking a professional pet groomer for helpful advice.
They think dog food and love are the same thing
Treats aren't the only way to reward your dog, and you shouldn't over feed him. Letting him get overweight will shorten his life. That's not love. The most expensive food isn't always the healthiest either.
Home-cooked diets that aren't correctly balanced for nutrition can do more harm than good, and raw food diets can be dangerous to owners by spreading bacteria. Dogs need a healthy, well-balanced diet and lifestyle. It's up to the owner to control portions and make sure the dog gets enough exercise.
7 They don't spend money when it really counts
Cheap products can sometimes be more expensive in the long-term. Cheap dog food can obviously cause expensive health problems. Did you know that over-the-counter, spot-on flea and tick treatments can cause serious health issues too? Human medications might be cheaper, but if you don't know what you're doing, they can be toxic to your dog.
Don't wait until the last minute, when it's really serious, to take your dog to the vet. Mistakes like that can be fatal. Health insurance can also be a great investment, so you don't have to worry about costs in an already difficult period. If you don't or can't spend the money for tests when something goes wrong, don't blame the vet if they don't have all the answers.
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8 They aren't proactive about their dog's health
The best way to avoid health problems is to prevent them in the first place. A routine veterinary check-up, once or twice a year, is an opportunity to review your dog's overall health, diet and lifestyle, not just catch-up on vaccinations and deal with obvious problems. This becomes even more essential when dogs are more than eight years old.
9 They buy the wrong dog collars, harnesses or leashes or use none at all
Choke collars are a definite no-no. Retractable leashes might look like a great idea to give your dog more freedom, but the stopping mechanism isn't always trustworthy, especially over time. The wrong type of collar, harness or leash can hurt your dog and cause other health problems, even tracheal collapse.
Some dogs, including certain breeds, have particular needs too. It may be due to their anatomy or a pre-existing health problem, in which case collars should be used only for identification. A flat leash that isn't more than six feet long with a head collar or no-pull dog harnesses is your safest option, but nothing is a substitute for training a dog to stay close and not to pull.
Lack of control is how dogs can end up getting in a fight or running into traffic, even when they're leashed. It can also be harmful or dangerous for the owners to be pulled around.
VIDEO GUIDE: How To Train A Dog To Walk On A Leash
10 They don't know how difficult or time-consuming dog grooming can be
It seems like the cheapest choice to groom your dog is by doing it yourself, but rubbing in the dog shampoo too vigorously or too much towel drying afterwards can mat the hair, even with short-haired dogs, and generally put your dog off from future grooming.
Dog hair tangles aren't just ugly. They cause bruises from that constant pulling. For some dogs, shaving the coat isn't just stylish, it's necessary for comfort and health. It can even affect their personality and daily behavior.
However, shaving isn't an option for every dog. Do you see the pattern here? At-home pet grooming is a great way to save money, but only if you really know what you're doing. It takes time to learn how to properly groom your dog, not to mention the time you'll spend actually doing it.
11 They don't brush their dog's teeth
Teeth brushing should be part of your daily routine or at least several times per week. The sad fact is, most dogs over three years old already show signs of gum disease and other dental problems, which can cause a host of other health problems that are painful for your pet and expensive for you.
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Getting yourself and your Fido into a regular teeth brushing routine is one of the best things you can do for your dog's overall health and well-being. Many pet owners are too lazy to brush their dogs' teeth, but what they don't understand is how many diseases and health issues can be avoided just by brushing your dog's teeth a few times a week.
12 Their dog's nails don't get clipped regularly
How often you clip your dog's nails will depend on how fast they grow and the types of surfaces your pooch usually walks on. Rough ground will grind down the nail, but don't depend on that too much.
Long nails can cause serious paw and toe problems. If you aren't confident about doing a good job, book regular appointments with a groomer or veterinarian.
FULL VIDEO GUIDE: How To Clip A Dog's Nails 101
13 They don't take temperature control into consideration
We've all heard that it can be deadly to leave dogs in your car. It's even considered a form of animal abuse! Many pet owners don't realize that dogs can overheat in the backyard too, especially long-haired breeds, breeds with thick or double coats and senior dogs.
Of course, you need to provide your pet with water and shade, but there are other ways you can help your dog beat the heat too, including:
- Keep a child-sized swimming pool in the shade with a few inches of water in it – make sure your pet can easily get in and out
- Play in the sprinkler together
- Put ice cubes in the water dish or give your dog frozen treats
- Leave the fan on for your pet
- Limit exercise and outside time to the early morning or late evening on hot days
- Shave or trim your dog's hair if necessary
Planning for the weather isn't just a summer thing either. If it's cold in the winter, a dog's fur might not be enough to keep him warm. He might need a sweater, coat or even boots, depending on his breed, size, age and coat type.
Even older dogs and experienced owners can benefit from refresher courses or obedience school.
Training should be a life-long, daily activity for you and your pet. Even puppies can start with special classes that focus on socialization.
15 They inadvertently set their dog up to fail
Sometimes, bad behavior is more the owner's fault than the dog's. Don't tempt your pup by leaving dog food, dog treats or other items like shoes out where he can get them. You're deliberately setting up your own dog.
Always try to be consistent and predictable, with clear limits and expectations. It's your responsibility to train your dog to do what you want, and be understanding and patient when things don't work out the way you want them to after the first few tries. Good luck!
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