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How to Take Care of a Dog: 10 Common Parenting Mistakes

Mistakes Dog Parents Can Make That Lead to Problems Down the Road

By Sam Bourne. December 18, 2013 | See Comments

Dog eating off plate

People have a lot of different beliefs about how to raise a dog, and while there is no "right" way to do it, there are certainly a few bad practices out there. Here are a few things pet parents might overlook, but really shouldn't.

Raising a pet is a lot like raising a child — what you do greatly affects how they turn out, and there are a ton of misconceptions floating around about how to take care of a dog. Here are ten things some pet parents do, unaware that they could lead to raising a bad dog, health problems, or potentially even put their dog (or others) in danger.

1. Not socializing puppies

A common mistake is failing to socialize dogs while they are puppies. This can often lead to a lack of trust, which can make a dog difficult, if not outright dangerous, around strangers. A few hours of playtime a day will help your dog develop a stronger bond with you, as well as a sense of safety around people.

2. Not setting boundaries

Just like kids who need to be told not to jump on the bed, or to keep their elbows off the table, pets need to have some boundaries set for them, otherwise they might begin to exhibit dominant behavior. Actions such as jumping up, scratching furniture, or peeing inside should not be tolerated, regardless of your dog's size.

3. Letting the Dog Walk You

While it may seem like a fairly innocuous thing, by letting your dog pull you around during walks, you are allowing them to assert dominance, which is never good. A well behaved dog is submissive. Not to mention that having them pull you around can be dangerous — tens of thousands of people end up going to the hospital every year as a result of their dog pulling too hard on the leash and toppling them over.

4. Not exercising enough

As of early 2013, obesity is up to 52.5% in dogs, and that is in no small part due to the fact that they simply are not receiving enough exercise. Take the time to figure out what your pet’s daily recommended exercise regimen is and stick to it.

5. Always keeping their food bowl full

Just because we have the means to give our pets a heaping helping every time the dinner bell rings doesn't mean we should. Overfeeding can result in a number of different, yet equally preventable, health conditions, from diabetes to early onset arthritis. Sometimes, less is more.

6. Leaving kids unsupervised around dogs

Even the most well behaved dog has a tipping point, and leave it to a child to find out exactly where it is. Children love pets, but are not always calm about expressing that love, often getting a little too rough, or being too noisy. This could cause the dog to snap at them or knock them over. Always introduce kids to pets and give pointers on how to interact with your dog.

7. Scolding for accidents

If your dog has an accident and you did not manage to catch them in the act, the statute of limitations on that crime has already passed. If you attempt to reprimand them for it, you are only going to confuse them. They have no idea why they are being yelled at, regardless of whether you point at the “mistake” or press their face up to it -- they simply won’t get the connection. Just chalk it up to a missed opportunity and keep a better watch out for next time.

8. Leaving dogs alone too long

Dogs are pack animals, which makes them inherently social, so to deny them the company of others for the better part of their waking hours is cruel. Sure, they can handle a couple hours alone in a crate, but after a certain point (7+ hours) they are bound to go a little stir crazy. Try to figure out a way for someone to pay them a visit during the day to help break up the monotony.

9. Letting dogs eat Anything

For whatever reason, some people have the notion that dogs have iron stomachs that can handle anything. That is not true. Just because they will put anything in their mouth, does not mean that they should. Things like poultry bones and spoiled food are two of the main culprits, but there are plenty of other foods that dogs should not be given. Familiarize yourself with them and make sure to keep your dog away.

10. Not having a disaster plan

While it stinks to think about, sometimes disaster strikes, and when it does, it pays to have a plan. One thing many people forget when making their plan, however, is their pet. Since you want to make sure everyone in your family is accounted for in your plan, use our helpful disaster checklist.

More on Dog Parenting

How to Call Your Dog by Name!
Which Dog Breed is Best for You?
How to Teach Your Dog to Fix Their Leash
Growing Your Family with Dogs That Like Other Dogs

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