Top Five Dog Owner Mistakes

Many dogs have issues.  This does not mean they are bad dogs or their owners are bad people.  Having said that, most owners can fix these problems with a lot of love and training and working with the dog.  Here are five common problems and how to prevent them or train a dog to stop doing them.  Training can help fix most undesirable behaviors in a dog.

  1. My dog isn’t fat, he is just a big dog.  Half of all dogs in the United States of America are obese.  Your veterinarian can tell you if your dog is one of these.  If so, you can fix this by working with your dog to pursue appropriate exercise to change all that flab to muscle and slim your dog down.  There are low calorie dog foods that your veterinarian can advise you to use that help with that, too.  Lay off the dog treats, feed smaller meals twice a day, and use part of the dog’s meal as training treats instead of giving the dogs high calorie dog treats during the day.
  2. I only take my dog to the veterinarian when he is sick.  Dogs are very stoic creatures.  They do not show their pain or illnesses because they do not want to inconvience their pack leader (that would be you).  By the time dogs get to the veterinarian, they may have been sick and hurting for some time.  An annual check-up helps catch problems early and treat them.  In fact, many veterinarians recommend check-ups every six months for this very reason.
  3. I just buy the dog food the pet store employee recommended.  Pet store employees are not usually as knowledgeable as veterinarians.  They may have their heart in the right place, but they do not know your dog’s health history and medical conditions. If the veterinarian recommends a dog food, there is probably a good reason for that.  If in doubt, ask them to explain their reasoning for that recommendation.  Most veterinarians will be happy to do so.
  4. I should reassure my dog when he exhibits fear by snapping or growling.  Most owners do not want their dogs to be scared.  It is natural to try to reassure the dog by hugging, petting, and feeding the dog to distract him from his fear.  Unfortunately, over time this teaches the dog that fear behavior is not only okay, but desired.  If you dog exhibits behaviors such as growling at people and snapping, you need to take the dog to the veterinarian and formulate a plan to teach the dog this is not acceptable behavior.  Do not try to formulate a plan without consulting your veterinarian, as they are trained in the range of behavioral issues dogs can exhibit and can make sure the plan will make the dog better, not worse.
  5. My dog is trained and obeys me, so he doesn’t need a leash.  Many cities and counties require that your dog be on a leash while out in public.  Many dogs, and their owners, do not like to be approached by an unleashed dog.  It is impossible to predict what may happen when a loose dog runs up on a leashed dog.  An unleashed dog may also run in front of a car or get lost.  Many areas have a designated, fenced area for dogs to run loose without getting in trouble.  These dog parks will let your dog run without harming him or other dogs.

Dogs are wonderful creatures.  However, they depend on their owners to take care of them in appropriate ways so that the wonder shines through.