If you already own a dog, then you may already be privy to some of the mistakes that first-time dog owners commit, but there may be a few that haven’t crossed your mind. However, if you’re considering getting a dog, it would be wise to consider learning about some of these big mistakes that new dog owners tend to make. Especially if your dog might someday become your emotional support animal.
1. Waiting Too Long To Train
Dogs tend to be “creatures of habit”, or in other words, when they learn something, they’ll stick to it for life. Its extremely important to teach good behavior to a dog at a very young age, so that they’ll grow up sticking to it. That doesn’t mean that its impossible to teach an old dog “new tricks”, as they say, but it does become increasingly difficult. Don’t let that discourage you from adopting an older dog in need of a home, though. Its more difficult to curb the bad behavior that they’ve learned, but as previously mentioned, it’s not impossible.
2. Misinterpreting The Dog “Scoot”
Some new dog owners actually find the “butt scoot” of a dog to be pretty cute, or even funny. YouTube videos of dogs performing the scoot have even circulated around the internet, but its actually not very funny to your dog. The “scoot” usually means one of several things; one of which can be very serious. If your dog has worms, he’ll tend to scoot around on the floor to try to alleviate the itchiness that they cause. If it happens to be something less serious, like some poop stuck in his fur, then you may wind up with a very dirty floor. Another cause could be that his anal glands are clogged up, which can lead to other health issues. If you see your dog scooting, its time to take him to the vet.
3. Neglecting Their Nails
It’s rather common for a new dog owner to completely ignore their furry friend’s nails, but this is a big no-no. Long nails can make walking a real chore for a dog, since the nails wind up curling downward, protruding beyond the paw and causing serious difficulties in the pup’s natural stride. They can wind up getting stuck in the carpet, which can lead to a painful break in the nail, or even yank the entire nail from the socket. Ouch! Do your pup a favor and clip those nails.
4. Leaving A Dog In The Car
Even in cold climates, leaving a dog in the car is for extended periods of time is cruel and you should realize that only bad dog owners do it. In fact, it’s illegal in many places. The ventilation within a car, when its turned off, is usually very poor. Leaving the windows down can help, but this still prevents adequate air flow to your poor little pooch. If the window is left down too far, the dog may attempt to escape the confines of the vehicle, which can lead to him becoming injured or worse! This tip is especially important if you want to help keep your dog cool during the summer seasons!
5. Not Enough Exercise
Taking care of a dog for the first time can be physically demanding too. If you’re a new dog owner then you should know that dogs, just like people, require at least some degree of exercise in their lives. If they don’t get to romp around and use their muscles, they’ll be prone to similar diseases and deterioration as humans. But look on the bright side, helping a dog to get some exercise is a great way for a person to stay in shape, too! You can go for a walk or a jog and bring your furry little friend along with you, and it makes the occasion all the more joyful.
6. Infrequent Grooming
Some dogs can get away with very little grooming, but its usually just the very short-furred ones that fall into that category. The majority of dogs, even with just medium fur, can be very uncomfortable if not properly groomed. Dirt, mites, and other unwanted debris can get buried deep within the fur, and the dog just can’t clean it out himself. Lastly, don’t forget to pick up after your dog during those daily neighborhood walks.
7. Not Budgeting Pet Care Expenses
Dogs are one of the best companions a person could have. They’re loyal, loving, and often obedient, but they’re also relatively expensive. A common mistake among would-be pet owners is to neglect a future pet-care budget. Regular vet visits will ensure that your pup stays happy and healthy, and lives a long and fulfilling life, but it’s not cheap. A vet checkup runs anywhere from $40 to $100, and if the vet happens to find something wrong with your little friend, then the cost only goes up from there. Plus, you’ll need flea and worm prevention on a regular basis.
8. Waiting To See If A Health Problem “Clears Up On Its Own”
If you see a sudden change in behavior in your dog, anything from the aforementioned “scooting”, to limping or whining, not eating, etc, then an immediate vet visit is in order. Waiting to see if it “clears up on its own” can be just as bad for a dog as it can be for a human. Many health problems that a dog may have can be cleared up with a little medication, but if you wait too long, the problem could compound into something much more serious. So don’t wait to see what happens, let a trained professional assess the problem and make sure that your pooch stays in tip-top condition. Your dog will thank you in the long run.
9. Not Enough Playtime
A dog that’s cooped up for too long, or left alone for too long, will not be a very happy one. If you are taking care of a dog for the first time, always make time to familiarize yourself with safe and fun games for your pet. Dogs are more intelligent than many people give them credit for, and as with any intelligent beings, they need something to focus their attention on. Playtime is more than just a fun time for a dog, it’s a way to let out all of the anxiety and frustration that builds up during the day, which is quite similar to what people need.
10. Trying To Give The Dog Some Human Medication
While it is true that dogs can handle some medication that’s made for humans, the circumstances in which it should be given are very, very rare. Dogs are much smaller than people, and their livers are far more susceptible to over-medication than humans are. Even just giving your dog a Tylenol can prove fatal in some cases. Liver failure is not something that you want to see your dog go through, its a horrible end to such a good life. So don’t risk trying to save a trip to the vet by giving your dog some human medication, take him to a professional animal specialist and let the vet prescribe something that is safe and effective for dogs.
11. Taking Too Many Vacations
It’s fairly well known that dogs are very social animals. They are happiest when they’re the ones that they trust and love. Being couped up while the dog’s owner is on vacation can be very stressful for the little pooch. That being said, people do need to take some time away from home every now and then. Vacations can be a great way to relieve stress in our own lives, but be sure to take your dog into consideration when you’re taking time away. The pup has feelings, too, after all. It can be just as saddening for a dog to be left behind as it would be for your spouse or child to be left behind.
12. Feeding Only Dry Food
While many dry dog foods are formulated to have all of the nutrition that a dog needs, a dry diet isn’t necessarily the healthiest. Canned, wet food is actually much easier on the dog’s stomach, and provides some nutrition that just isn’t possible to be contained in the dry food. Not only that, but your dog will love the enhanced flavor of something a little more scrumptious than just the hard kibbles of dry food. Its easier to chew, easier to digest, and generally packs more flavor and nutrition. It can be a bit more expensive, though, so if you’re on a budget, use wet food as a treat every now and then. Pooch will thank you for it.
13. Not Using Worm Prevention
Dogs are very susceptible to worm infestations, mostly because of how they groom themselves. If a flea decides that your dog is going to be its next meal, and your dog decides that he’ll just nibble that flea right off, the odds of your dog getting a worm are pretty high. Fleas can carry all sorts of worms right into your dog’s body. Heartworms are the most serious and are often fatal. Waiting around until the dog actually has heartworms is one of the worst mistakes that a pet owner can make. Heartworms are extremely hard to cure once they’ve infested the dog’s heart. In many cases, there is even a high risk of the dog dying during the treatment process. This is because the worms, when being killed by the medication, can become lodged in the heart and, as you can imagine, a dying worm in your dog’s most precious organ is far from a good thing.
14. Neglecting The Teeth
Dogs can have similar dental problems as people do, and since they can’t brush their own teeth, they rely on people to help them out. In olden times, when dogs roamed the lands as wild animals, they would usually eat only raw, unprocessed foods. In modern times, however, as our pets, dogs tend to eat foods that have been heavily processed, and while this isn’t necessarily unhealthy for them, it can take a toll on their dental hygiene. A quick scrub of the teeth with a regular toothbrush is often enough to help curb the potential for tooth decay, so there’s really no reason to neglect such a quick and easy preventative measure.
15. Not Having Room To Romp
Many dog owners live in apartments, which is just fine in most circumstances. But if you don’t give your dog some room to run around without a leash, they may begin to feel confined. Apartments that allow dogs will often have some sort of fenced in area that is safe for a dog to run around, though, unless of course its a high-rise apartment in New York. Even if you don’t have immediate access to a fenced-in area, taking your pooch to a dog park that allows leash-less play can be hugely beneficial. Plus, its fun for us humans to watch a dog joyfully bound around in uninhibited joy.
We hope you’ve learned from the common mistakes that dog owners usually make. Try to avoid making these mistakes as some of them are quite life-threatening!