Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make

dreamstime_s_31493379Dogs are given up to shelters at an alarming rate. In fact, the ASPCA estimates that 3.9 million dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescues yearly. For the vast majority of these animals, their arrival to the shelter could have been easily prevented. While it is easy to blame the dog for its bad behavior, more commonly it is the human that makes the mistakes. Listed below are common errors that pet owners make.

Treating Your Pet as a Person
While it is natural to want to spoil your pet with love and attention, a common mistake is to treat your pet as if it has the same needs and desires as humans. For instance, veterinarians often see animals that are grossly overweight. When educating owners on proper diet, they often proclaim that a diet will not work because the dog won’t allow it. The reality is that while your dog may love food, you are in control of portion sizes and no animal wants to suffer from the resulting lethargy and health complications that every additional pound of body fat provides.

Assuming your Dog can Understand English
Dogs may be extremely smart, but if you bring a new dog home and expect it to understand words such as “no,” “potty,” or “off” on the first day, you are setting both you and your dog up for disappointment. In order to communicate with your pet you should put yourself in your dog’s shoes. Animals communicate primarily via body language and by reading each other’s energies. With a lot of patience and practice your pet will learn words such as “sit,” “outside,” “play,” and “down” over time, but the most important way you will communicate is through your actions.

Inconsistency in Training
Dogs crave routine and are extremely conscious of inconsistencies. It is incredibly important everyone in the family follows the same rules at all times with your pup, or else it is not fair to become upset with him or her. For instance, if your dog is not allowed on the furniture, it’s not okay to allow him or her to sit on your lap “just this once” a few times per week. This will confuse your dog and cause frustration for you when your dog only listens to you half the time.

Not Following Through with Obedience Training
Would you expect your child’s reading skills to continue to improve if he or she completely stopped reading during summer vacation? Many pet owners take their dogs to obedience training as puppies, and then never work on their skills again. Without repetition a dog will forget his or her training (or at least respond much more slowly than the owner may like). Owners should sneak training into day – to – day life by making their pet “lie down” before dinner, “sit” for a treat, and “wait” before walking out the door to go outside.

No Socialization
Finally, one of the worst mistakes an owner can make is to not properly socialize a pet. Socialization involves introducing an animal to as many new sights, sounds, smells, and experiences as possible. This crucial component of pet ownership helps an animal learn important coping mechanisms for stress and reduces behaviors such as dog-on-dog aggression and territorial aggression.