Committed dog owners often have to learn how to gauge their pet’s behavior through trial and error. From puppies to rescues, there are some things that are written and unwritten about the do’s and don’ts of doggie parenting.
Just as it is with kids, we pet parents can send mixed or wrong messages to our furry family members. As smart as dogs are, they’ll figure out for themselves how to interpret what you’re communicating through your actions. They also depend on you to do the right thing for them at all times, like keeping them safe, well-fed, and healthy.
That said, let’s jump through a few good practices to keep in mind as a dog mom or dad. Some are common sense, some are reminders, and others may be new tips to keep in your pocket.
The list below is a list of things you DON’T want to do with your doggie:
Neglect Medical Care
Regular visits to the vet ensure your dog is up to date on shots, is free of major dental problems, and can live longer. An annual visit at the very least is recommended, but if you are experiencing financial challenges, look for low-cost pet clinics in your area.
Also learn to be on the lookout for abnormal behaviors, as they could be indicative of a more serious issue.
Don’t Use Physical Punishment
When Rusty chews up your favorite pair of shoes or poops on your white carpet, you might be tempted to pop him on the tush. Don’t! For one thing, you’re teaching your dog to fear you, rather than respect you.
The other problem is that they really don’t have a concept of time when it comes to physical scolding. A toilet paper party that happened 2 hours ago isn’t worth the spanking you’re about to dish out because your dog doesn’t remember what he did wrong. Instead, learn to reward good behavior.
You already know that chocolate isn’t for dogs, but do you know which other foods and plants are harmful? The list is quite extensive and includes: azaleas, alcohol, wild mushrooms, tulips, avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes, and tomato plants. In addition to household chemicals and insecticides, dogs like to get into garden fare and food scraps that you like to share.
Some of these items will cause mild stomach upset, while others are fatal. Know what things to keep out of sight and out of Fido’s dish.
Take Puppies and Untrained Dogs to a Dog Park
This works two ways. Like kids, puppies and untrained dogs are susceptible to peer pressure and bullies. Yours might even be the culprit! Letting them run free with dogs who, um, have questionable manners and habits could open them up to bad influences. Worse, they could become targets for meanies. Scope out parks first and see who’s who, looking for fair play or an empty park.
You’re relaxing inside your home after you’ve just taken Sparkle for a walk. Don’t be lazy; take that harness off. Harnesses (and collars) are really meant for walks and leaving them on while dogs are playing or doing their thing could become a safety hazard. How? They get caught on things around the house or even your dog’s jaw. If you have more than one dog, one can get tangled up with the other.
Punish for Indoor Accidents
Old wisdom says to rub your dog’s nose in his mess to housetrain him. Along with physical punishment, yelling and other forms of scolding for indoor pottying results in fear and anxiety. It’s counterproductive. Instead, use treats as positive reinforcement when the dog goes to the bathroom outside, thus training her where to go.
Skimp on Stimulation
How would you like to be stuck in one space, day after day, night after night for months or years? Sounds boring and mind-numbing right? Well the same goes for your dog. Long stays in a crate as prison or lack of exercise can break them down mentally and emotionally.
Regular walks and play time is great for physical stamina and stress relief, helping dogs to release energy, be social, and stay healthy. Dogs that stay home alone for long periods need stimulation and an outlet too. Get them out and about!
Loving dogs is so easy, but it’s also important to know realistically what you can handle. Even if you’ve had your dog a long time, becoming complacent with a routine is normal. It’s always good to try something new or break old habits.
How do you keep a happy relationship going with your doggie? What things have you added or removed from your personal dog parenting manual? Share in the comments!