We all mean well (bless our hearts), but most of us make mistakes in the care, feeding and training of our dogs. Here are six common mistakes that we dog owners make. I know I was. Take a look and see if you are, too, and share your comments about these and other mistakes we fall into.
1. FEEDING TOO MANY CARBS
Left to their own devices, dogs would eat nothing but protein. Yet we modern dog owners give them acommercially produced diet of cereal kibble. It’s not natural, and dogs’ health statistics show it. Dogs are not omnivores; they’re carnivores. You can increase your dog’s protein intake by adding chicken, fish, pork or beef to his dinner. If you can’t stomach feeding raw meat to your dog (which is most like their natural diet), you can cook it. But either way, getting more protein into your dog will improve her health, increase digestibility and be more tasty. Your dog will love you for it!
2. LEAVING THE DOG ALONE WITH NOTHING TO DO
It’s irritating to come home to find the sofa torn open, or the cabinets chewed up, or a favorite pair of shoes shredded beyond recognition. But when we leave the dog home alone with no constructive outlet for his boredom and frustration, what do we expect? Dogs need something to keep them busy, especially when the house is quiet and empty. Tough chews, treat-dispensing toys and other “approved” toys and treats can help. Try freezing a rope bone, or filling a marrow bone with peanut butter. Or fill a treat-dispensing toy with carrots or small treats.
3. USING A BAD PICTURE IN A “LOST DOG” POSTER
Heaven forbid you ever lose your dogs. Doesn’t it break your heart when you see those “Lost Dog” flyers stapled to telephone poles around your neighborhood? What breaks my heart even more are the bad snapshots shown on the posters.
That picture you took with your phone of your dog sitting at your feet, in the house, at night, is not going to help your neighbors to recognize your dog when he’s loose. The dog will probably be spotted running from yard to yard, or along a roadway. So use a picture that shows your dog’s entire body, preferably running or walking, as seen from the side. HINT: The best photo might be a stock photo of a dog of the same breed who’s walking or running. Only you will know it’s not the same dog. To everyone else, it might mean the difference between recognizing your dog or not.
4. USING HO-HUM TREATS (THAT ARE TOO BIG) FOR TRAINING
Training treats are different from cookies or biscuits. A training treat should be a great smelling treat that your dog will do ANYTHING for. Examples include small bits of red meat, cheese, cubed hot dogs or vienna sausages. Training treats should also be small, so that the dog can eat them in one gulp, and not fill up after 5 minutes of training. When a dog has to stop and chew up a treat — or clean up pieces of it off the floor — your timing is thrown off. Experiment with different treats. Some dogs love cubed carrots. Others will do anything for a mini marshmallow.
5. SHARING MEDS
Some human medicines can be used to help dogs, but some are toxic to dogs. The most common cause of pet poisoning is non-steroidal anit-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Other medications can cause problems or be poisonous to dogs, too. Learn about them and keep a list in your medicine cabinet, or ask your veterinarian what to give.
6. NOT PROTECTING OUR DOGS
The dog park isn’t for everyone, or every dog. Some dogs are very sociable and LOVE the dog park. Others are fearful, anxious and completely miserable there. We make the mistake of thinking that because there are other dogs there, plus room to run, that our dog should and does love to go. But watch your dog’s reactions to other dogs. If he cowers, runs to you for protection, or spends most of the time hiding under the bench, it may be that he really doesn’t like it there. Another area where we should protect our dogs is when we’re on a walk and a person or dog approaches. We should definitely be confident and relaxed, but we should consider if an approaching dog is friendly before allowing it to get within contact range of ours.
If your dog is being harassed by other dogs – either on leash or at the dog park – remove your dog to a safer area. If your dog thinks that you will not protect her, it will impact the trust she feels for you. Not only that, she may assume a leadership role over you if the thinks that you are not a leader who cares for and protects the pack.
Fortunately, dogs are very forgiving, and there are few mistakes that we cannot make right. Give your dog a hug today and share your comments on the subject below.