Whether you’re new to raising a dog or if you’ve been doing it for years, you’ve probably made plenty of mistakes. A dog is so much more than just a cute companion because they have a lot of specific needs. Many dog lovers make the same mistakes as they raise their pups, but it’s never too late to make a change for the better. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them as you get to know your dog.
Even long-term dog parents can make changes to benefit their dogs. So, here are 5 of the biggest mistakes that most dog lovers face, and you’re probably guilty of at least 1 of them.
#1 – Choosing a New Dog Just Based on Looks
RELATED: 5 Common Mistakes New Puppy Owners Make
Of course, dogs are adorable! But they’re so much more than just their looks. Many families will admit that they chose their dog based on appearance. Frequently, someone will only see a dog and fall in love, not considering all the other factors that go into raising them.
Make Sure You’re Ready for a Dog
One of the biggest mistakes with choosing a dog based simply on looks is that people will often rush into it before they’re ready. Caring for a dog takes a lot of time, money, and effort. So, as cute as they are, not every family is prepared to take in a new family member. Ask yourself if a new dog makes sense for your home at the moment.
Puppies Aren’t for Everyone
When it comes to looks, no one can resist a puppy. Many people insist they want a puppy instead of an older dog only due to appearances. However, puppies are even more work than adult dogs are. Sure, puppies might be great for some households, but many new dog parents make the mistake of getting a puppy without thinking it through.
People who only want puppies also tend to assume that they have to go to a breeder. This is also a common mistake because there are plenty of adorable puppies at rescues and shelters too. Always check there before considering a breeder.
Consider Their Behaviors
Just because a dog is cute doesn’t mean that they’re the right fit for you. It’s essential to get to know a dog first before you bring them home. Spend some time with them and try to find out as much as you can before making your decision. Your dog’s personality is much more important than how they look.
#2 – Not Having Set Rules and Expectations
Dogs enjoy learning new things and being rewarded for their actions. However, it’s difficult for them to behave if they don’t have specific rules to follow. Many dog parents fail to set up clear expectations for their dog, or they wait too long to do it.
Don’t Dismiss Training
All dogs need basic training and socialization. Even if you were told that your dog knows basic commands, it’s still essential to practice training regularly so your dog can get comfortable around you. Commands can be a fun thing for a dog. It’s also an excellent way for them to bond with their humans. Plus, training is the key to getting your dog to listen better.
Even if you train your dog, there can still be common mistakes involved. Dogs learn best from positive reinforcement, so if you’re too harsh with them when they do something wrong, it will only make them fear you instead of learning. Use training as a fun and exciting thing for your dog, and take the commands outside of just your household.
Make Sure All Family Members are on the Same Page
If you live with other people, it’s essential to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations for your dog. Often, one person will reward a dog for something while another will punish them for that same behavior. These actions only confuse dogs and make it harder for them to behave as expected. So, make sure every family member clearly understands what the rules for the dog are from the start.
#3 – Letting Unwanted Behaviors Get out of Control
Many dog parents are guilty of letting their dog get away with too many things. Some are scared to punish their dogs, while others are too lazy to correct their behavior. Either way, you need to address their behavioral issues as soon as possible before they become a bad habit.
Don’t Assume They’ll Grow out of a Behavior
It’s common for dog parents to use the phrase “they’ll grow out of it” when something goes wrong, especially with a puppy. However, this is not true. Sure, behaviors can change as a dog grows up and becomes comfortable in their home, but you can’t just assume that bad behavior will cure itself. Excessive barking, jumping, or whining are actions that you’ll likely want to fix before it gets out of hand.
As much as you love your dog, it’s okay to tell them no. However, a common mistake dog owners make is scolding their dogs using their name. You want your dog to learn their name and be happy with it, but if you always use it negatively, your dog will learn to fear it instead, which will likely make their behaviors worse.
Respect Their Fears
It’s common for new dog parents to mistake fears with bad behaviors. All dogs are afraid of different things, especially if they’ve had a rough past.
If your dog gets scared of something such as fireworks or bridges, it’s important not to scold them for these types of behaviors. Nobody likes being forced to face their fears, so of course, dogs are the same way. Instead, try to soothe them and avoid the triggers for these fears, if possible.
#4 – Not Taking Their Diet Seriously
RELATED: Is My Dog A Healthy Weight?
Choosing food for your dog can be overwhelming, so many dog owners make the mistake of just going with what’s popular or affordable. However, that’s usually not what’s best for your dog. Always do your research before choosing a dog food.
Choose Their Food Carefully
There’s no right choice when it comes to dog food because every dog is different. However, there are definitely choices that are healthier than others. Always pay close attention to the ingredients in the food before selecting it. If the first ingredient isn’t a quality meat source, or if there are lots of questionable ingredients like fillers, you might want to change your dog’s food.
Plus, different dogs have different needs. There are all kinds of dog foods to fit the needs of every dog. Consider your dog’s weight, age, activity level, allergies, and sensitivities when selecting a type of food.
Take it Easy on the Treats
It’s so hard to say no to a begging dog, but sometimes we have to. Try to ignore those puppy dog eyes! Many dog parents go overboard with treats and table scraps. However, giving your dog extra food is not a sign that you love them more. Take it easy on the treats and food portions, especially if your dog is overweight.
Also, like dog food, not all dog treats and chews are equal. Some might have unhealthy ingredients, while others could be hard for your dog to digest. So, consider this when choosing the perfect snacks as well.
It’s Okay to Switch Their Food
Many dog owners don’t want to make a diet change for their dog because they’ve been serving the same food forever. However, it’s okay to switch your dog’s food from time to time. Your dog would probably even prefer a variety, especially if it’ll make them healthier.
If you choose to switch to healthier food, make sure you slowly transition to it. Start by mixing the two foods instead of just giving your dog the new food immediately. This can help prevent your dog from getting an upset stomach.
#5 – Avoiding Regular Vet Appointments
Vet appointments can be expensive, which is why many dog parents delay them or avoid them as much as possible. However, vets are there to help your dog. Vets are there to answer any health-related questions you might have. So, it’s crucial that your dog’s health is always a priority.
Don’t Wait Until Something is Wrong to See the Vet
A common mistake that dog owners make is not taking their dog in for regular checkups. They only call the vet when something seems wrong with their dog. However, dogs are good at hiding their symptoms. If something is bothering them, it’s possible that you won’t notice until it’s too late.
Having regular checkups with your dog not only helps you keep up with their overall health, but it’s an excellent opportunity to keep up on other health aspects too. You can use vet visits to stay up to date on their vaccinations and make sure they have enough heartworm and flea medicine. These little things could protect your dog from serious health problems in the future.
Take Your Dog’s Health Seriously
To keep your dog happy and healthy, you need to make sure you have plenty of time for them. Always make sure to take their health and happiness very seriously to give them the best life possible. Even the little things in their life can make a huge difference, so try to avoid these simple problems.
Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s important for dog parents to learn from them and become better for their dogs. Our dogs would do the same for us, so make sure always to do what’s best for them.
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