We know you love your dog, but being a pet parent is not all cuddles and games of fetch. It comes with lots of responsibility. To avoid falling into any bad habits, new and experienced dog owners alike should freshen up on etiquette. Are you guilty of making any of these common mistakes?
1) Dismissing Training and Socialization
Every dog needs basic training and socialization. Some need more than others, but they all need some. If you decide not to train your dog, you are putting her at a disadvantage. How will she know the rules? What kind of structure and guidance are you providing? Don’t think of training as a chore. When done positively, training is actually fun and enriching for dogs.
Socialization allows a dog to get used to things in the environment, like children, other adults, other animals, objects, environments, and various situations. Without proper socialization, dogs can develop fears and phobias. Even worse, the lack of socialization can lead to an array of behavior problems. Socialization is not just for puppies. You can socialize your adult dog too!
Exercise is a basic need for every dog. Lack of exercise can lead to health problems and behavior issues. Some dogs need more exercise than others, but most need more than simple walks. Assess your dog’s activity needs. Is your dog restless and bored? Does your dog seem hyperactive and excited all the time? Is your dog overweight? These are all signs that she needs more exercise. Dogs need mental stimulation too. Try exercise that involves games to give your dog well-rounded activity. Many dogs will benefit from involvement in dog sports, of which there are plenty to choose from. Physically active dogs might really enjoy agility. Hounds and other curious sniffers usually love nose work or tracking.
3) Avoiding the Veterinarian
Are you one of those people who wait until your dog is sick to go to the vet? Well, you’re not alone. A lot of dog owners skip or put off routine vet visits unless something is going on with their dogs. You may think, “my dog is healthy and feeling great, why should I stress him out with a vet visit?” Dog owners often want to avoid the cost and inconvenience of a vet visit. However, your veterinarian is a key part of keeping your dog healthy. Most dogs will hide illness until it becomes unbearable. Routine wellness exams can allow vets to detect small health issues before they become big problems. These vet visits also help foster the relationship you and your dog have with your vet, making it easier to diagnose and treat illness when it comes along. In addition to wellness visits, you should listen to your vet’s recommendation about things like heartworm prevention.
4) Skipping Heartworm Prevention
The American Heartworm Society strongly recommends year-round heartworm prevention for all dogs in all 50 states. Your vet will make the same recommendation, but it’s not to turn a profit. It’s because heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease. Caused by an infestation of the parasite Dirofilaria immitis, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and can affect any dog anywhere in the U.S. If you think heartworm prevention is expensive, in comparison heartworm treatment may cost as much as $1,000-$1,500, and your dog can easily be reinfected in the future. In addition to cost, heartworm treatment is risky for dogs, especially older dogs or those with other health issues. Talk to your vet and you’ll realize that heartworm prevention is the better choice.
5) Neglecting Dental Health
Many people seem to think “doggie breath” is a normal thing. In truth, halitosis is a sign of some kind of dental disease. It may be as simple as some tartar build-up in your dog’s mouth. However, left unchecked, this can become periodontal disease, leading to tooth loss and even systemic diseases like kidney failure and heart disease. How can you prevent this? Home dental care is key. In a perfect world, everyone would brush their dogs’ teeth DAILY. In real life, many of us have trouble keeping up with it. If possible, our best option is to commit to a tooth-brushing routine. You can also use a good dental home care product (ask your vet for recommendations), but it won’t take the place of brushing. Either way, you should plan ahead for regular veterinary dental cleanings.
Content provided by The Spruce Pets.