There’s more than a few mistakes dog owners make. It happens. We’re human, and it’s hard to keep rules in place when your new pup looks at you. But inconsistency can cause problems that you may have to deal with your dog’s whole life if you don’t correct them.
Hindsight is 20/20, but new dogs owners may be struggling, and learning as they do! Here are a few mistakes to avoid if you are a first-time dog owner or starting over with a new dog. Already committed a few of these? Don’t worry, everyone has!
#1 – Thinking your dog will “grow out of” a bad behavior.
Dogs don’t grow out of bad behaviors. If your dog has learned that counter surfing gets him delicious treats as a puppy, he will keep doing it until you have trained him not to – it’s that simple.
#2 – Waiting to start training.
Many people think that a puppy can’t learn and they wait until their dog is a terrible teenager to try and reign them. However, puppies can start learning things as soon as you bring them home. Start teaching leash manners, and you will be a very happy owner by the time your dog is two.
#3 – Punishing them for house-breaking accidents.
The old way of rubbing your dog’s nose in his potty accident or spanking him has been debunked over and over again. Dogs just don’t make the connection between being disciplined and your desire for them to potty somewhere else. In addition, it can cause all kinds of emotional issues with your dog that you will have to fix later on.
#4 – Assuming every dog is friendly.
While some dogs are very social and like to greet everyone, not every dog is like that. It could be your dog or another dog that’s reactive. Either way, don’t assume every dog is friendly. The best policy is to always ASK before letting your dog go up to any dog (or person).
#5 – Not having set rules.
Dogs are habitual creatures, meaning they do best with a consistent routine and rules. If you keep changing his boundaries – for instance, he is allowed on the couch one week, and not allowed on it the next – your dog will end up confused and may even shut down and stop trying to obey if he always gets things wrong.
#6 – Not having enough vet visits.
According to a report from Banfield Pet Hospital, 37% of our dogs are overweight, and other ailments like diabetes, arthritis, thyroid and kidney disease, and even flea infestations are on the rise. This could, in part, be due to the fact that vet visits are down by 21% for dogs.
#7 – Neglecting to puppy proof.
A house should be prepared before a new puppy or rescue is brought home, just like you would for a baby. Many people don’t take caution, which leads to poisonings, obstructions due to swallowed objects, and ruined household items.
#8 – Giving dogs human medications without a vet’s approval.
This can result in a hefty vet bill and even the loss of your dog. In fact, over-the-counter human medications is number 2 in the ASPCA’s top list of toxins, according to cases handled by their Animal Poison Control Center. While many of these are accidental incidents, it’s important to remember human medication is dangerous to dogs and you should not be giving it your dog unless directed by a vet.
#9 – Encouraging bad behavior in your puppy.
This is a trap almost every dog owner falls into — puppies are so cute that even naughty things, like barking at you for attention, jumping up, biting at you to play, stealing food, etc., are often overlooked or even laughed at and rewarded through attention. But then puppy grows up and it’s not so cute anymore. Now you have a lot re-training to do.
#10 – Not giving them enough socialization.
Many owners worry about taking a puppy out when they are young because of germs or they just don’t have time. But puppies must be socialized in order for them to grow up well-adjusted. There are ways to socialize and minimize risk of germs. like sitting in your backyard, going for a car ride, or siting in a shopping cart. And, even if you just have 10 minutes a day, you can work on getting your dog used to other people, sounds, sights, car rides, trips to the pet store, other dogs, etc. It’s actually better if the exposure is for short periods of time anyway.