Pet owners do everything we can to make our pups happy, even if it sometimes means letting them break the rules. Be honest: did you sneak Fido an extra treat last night? How about letting your pup snuggle on the couch? If you answered yes, you’re certainly not alone. But did you know that these are just a couple of the worst “pet parent mistakes?”
Heidi Ganahl CEO of Camp Bow Wow, North America’s largest and fastest growing pet care franchise and INC 5000 company calls out some of the worst offending mistakes owners make and some tips to avoid them:
1. Not reinforcing bad behaviors: Many pet parents don’t understand that giving a dog attention when they are doing something inappropriate will encourage them to continue that behavior. Ignoring the dog when it performs bad behaviors and rewarding the dog when it offers good behaviors will lead to a better behaved dog.
2. Not taking your dog to a training class: When people don’t train their dogs, they feel like they doesn’t listen to them when, in reality, the dog doesn’t understand what it is being asked to do. Parents need to take the time to learn from a professional on how to help their dog be a good dog. If the dog is a rescue, going to training will help build a bond with the dog. It is so important to get dogs of any age into a training class to ensure that you know how to communicate with your pet in a way that they understand and to have an expert help you with any issues that could arise.
3. Not socializing your dog in a critical period: Puppies need to be socialized, and there is a very short window to accomplish this so it is comfortable with new things and people in their lives. Not socializing a puppy can lead to skittish or aggressive behavior later on. It’s important to expose your dog to as many new situations (ie. dogs, people, textures and objects) as possible before they are 16 weeks old.
4. Not researching the breed: Many people choose a dog because it is cute or as an impulse. Not understanding the breed you are adopting can lead to problems. If you adopt an active dog and don’t have an active lifestyle, the dog isn’t going to get the proper exercise or stimulation it needs and this can lead to bad behavior. Some dogs have innate behaviors that are undesirable for a family setting, like protective herding or aggressive tendencies. If you are considering getting a dog, take time to research various breeds that will work for your family and set out to find a dog that meets those criteria.
5. Not watching your child around your dog: Many people are very trusting of their family pet, but 50% of dog bites happen to children 12 years old and under, and many of those are by the family pet. Children do not understand how to properly read signals a dog gives when they are uncomfortable, and this can lead to a bite. If you have a young child, you should always supervise them while they are with your pet. Although they are an important family member, remember that dogs are still dogs. Teach your child how to properly interact with the dog by not pulling their tails, ears or fur, sitting on them, running at them, etc.