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Biggest Mistakes Dog Owners Make

Mistakes dog owners make

Are You Making These Mistakes?

Dogs are an incredible addition to your family. They love you unconditionally, and of course, you love them back. It is often out of this great love that we have for our pets that we sometimes end up inadvertently making mistakes that could hurt them or even put their lives in danger. 

Just as when you give your kids that sugary snack that they keep asking for without realizing the impact until they see a dentist and have a cavity; we do the same or even worse for our pets. The best way to avoid this problem is by first being aware of these common mistakes and acknowledging which ones apply to you. 

So, without further ado, let's discover the most common mistakes pet parents make and how to steer clear of them.

Mistakes Dog Owners Make

As first-time pet parents who are getting their first puppy or rescue, some of the advice you read on the internet might be confusing. Should you give your dog a treat every time they do something - after all, don't they say to use rewards for training?

Your old tennis ball will make a great toy for your dog to chase; surely it won't hurt their teeth, will it? Or how about hiring the first dog sitter you meet? What could go wrong?

These are just a few of the biggest mistakes pet owners make, and it might not seem like it, but things can turn out badly and harm you or your pet if you aren't vigilant. 

Even seasoned pet owners can unwittingly fall prey to making some of these mistakes with their dog. So whether you are a new pet parent or an old pro, it's worth reviewing this list of things to watch out for:

Not Tagging Your Dog

It is hard to consider this possibility, but pets can get lost (even well trained ones), and it is good to take steps that can help you reunite with them in case this happens. There are several things you can do to increase the chance that your dog will be found: 

Get your dog microchipped 

Some registries charge an annual fee, while some register your dog for free. Either way, it’s generally a good idea to do this in case your dog runs off while you are far from home.

Take pictures of your dog 

You probably have tons of cute pictures of your dog on your phone, but it is also important to have a photo with your whole dog in the image as well as at least one with you and your dog. If your pup has some distinguishing features make sure you have a photo of that too.

These images will help people recognize them if they ever get lost. Put a tag on their collar with your details on it so that if someone finds them, they can contact you and help you find your sweet dog. 

Register your dog with the local pet authority. Share your contact details with them as well. That way, if someone brings your dog to them, they’ll be able to let you know right away.

It is important to keep your contact details updated whenever your address or phone number changes so people can reach out to you without any hassle.

woman taking photo selfie with dog

Waiting to Start Socializing and Training Your Dog

Fido just joined your family; he's so cute that you want to keep him all to yourself, you want him to get used to your place. But trust us when we say both socializing your dog as well as starting training as early as possible is important. 

Socialize your dog

As much as you are everything to your dog, they still need to have the companionship of other dogs. Not just that, but being around other dogs gives your pup the chance to learn how to behave in a community and a pack. 

Don't let your dog wander off and be a responsible pet parent, but take them out to the dog park or even just to meet the neighbors as soon as possible.

Teach Your Dog Manners

The second thing to do is to teach your dog good manners by training him in what to do. However, training your dog goes beyond the basic commands of sit, stay and paw - but to other even more important behaviors that will help your dog know what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Your dog needs to know who the alpha is in the pack - and that's you. Don't let them control you or run the show.

Your new pet's whining and begging may be cute now, but you won't feel the same way when your neighbor is at your door complaining again about how your dog is barking all day. 

Your dog might be able to do cool, complicated tricks, but they aren't as intelligent as an adult human. Think of them as a 3-year-old extra-energized version of a human child. They might understand some cues, behave well, and do incredible tricks, but at the end of the day, don't expect them to react wisely to surprises or sudden routine changes. 

Dogs need structure and routine in their lives. Discipline can be a big factor in your dog's well-being. Moreover, it helps them see you as the leader of the pack, which makes them feel secure, and they behave well as well.

Don't wait to start training
Begin from day one and get help if needed. Use a clicker to indicate to the dog when they did something correctly. Using a clicker, rather than voice commands, makes the command impartial and the same regardless of who gives the command. This is especially important if you have multiple people in the house that may give the same command using a different tone of voice.

Remember, a well-behaved dog that follows a routine will be happy in its new home. 

dog training

Don't wait to start training

Begin from day one and get help if needed. Use a clicker to indicate to the dog when they did something correctly. Using a clicker, rather than voice commands, makes the command impartial and the same regardless of who gives the command. This is especially important if you have multiple people in the house that may give the same command using a different tone of voice.

Remember, a well-behaved dog that follows a routine will be happy in its new home. 

Neglecting to Dog-Proof your home


Whether you have a tiny pup or a big dog, one of the mistakes dog owners make is to not dog-proof their home before bringing home their new pet. Multiple things in your home can be dangerous for your energetic companion. 

For instance, did you know some types of flowers or plants can be toxic to dogs. Plants such as the Corn Plant (Dracaena Frangrans), Sago Palm, Jade Plant, Lilies, Asparagus Fern, and Caladium (Elephant Ear) - while beautiful to look at, or even sometimes beneficial as a topical as in the case of the Aloe Vera plant, can still cause vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases even liver failure if ingested. 

Even ordinary household objects such as fabric softener sheets, plastic bags, paints, potpourri, ice melting products, mouse bait, swimming pool chemicals, and even leather or stuffing from your old couch can be dangerous for your pet if they swallow them? 

And what if you don't want your dog to go in the bedroom or kitchen? If you don't pup-proof your house, expect lots of accidents and even potential injury. The Daily Paws has a great Easy Guide to Dog Proofing your home with room by room tips to making sure your home is a good place for a pet. 

It's better to be safe than sorry.

Getting Overexcited When You First See Your dog

It is always heartwarming to see your dog jumping up and down when they see you when you come home after work. However, not only does this teach them that jumping on people is okay but getting your dog over-excited like that means that they are not listening to you in case you need to give them a command. This can be very unhealthy for your dog.

If you only get excited and pay attention to the dog when they jump on you or run around like a Tasmanian devil, then they will continue to behave this way at other times to try and get your attention. This can become a problem if you invite people over, especially if they're a small child. 

When you start paying attention and petting your dog as soon as you get home (or even when you come from another room), you are in a sense conditioning your dog to be upset and anxious when you leave and likewise to be over stimulated and unable to control themselves when you return.

At this point, some owner push their dog away or yell at them to get down. 

Dog jumping on girl

This too is not the right way to greet your dog as it can also create anxiety in your dog. When your dog gets over-excited to see you, simply turn away and let them calm down first before giving them attention. 

Giving Dogs Human Medication

This is probably the biggest mistake pet owners make. Whether you have a cat, dog, hamster, or parakeet as your pet, do not give them human medication without checking with your vet. While some medicines made for humans may be okay to give dogs, most of them (especially prescription medications) are not so it is always better to check with your vet. 

As tempting as it is to give your dog medicine recommended by a friend or what you read on Google, please check with a professional before giving any medicine to your beloved pet.  ASPCA declared over-the-counter medication as the top toxin involved in pet poisonings reported in 2021. Remember, only give human medication to your dog if your vet has recommended it, and strictly follow the dosage guidelines.

If your dog has accidentally swallowed some human medication, don't panic! Immediately take them to the vet so they can guide you regarding the next steps. If possible, take along the medication packaging so you can show the veterinarian, as it can help them treat your dog.

Feeding Your Dogs Human Food

Many pet parents don't realize that dogs have very sensitive stomachs. We understand it is hard to say no when they look at you with those adorable big eyes, but it is necessary to set boundaries especially when it may impact their health.

In the same way that human medicine is not good for dogs, it is important to understand that your canine's stomach isn't fit for human food. 

While there are some things they can eat in moderation, some human foods such as chocolate, nuts, grapes, cinnamon, and others are quite toxic and can result in your doggy getting very sick. Be especially careful if you have a small baby around as dogs are notorious for cleaning up food that their small human family members drop on the floor.

And while you may be very diligent with what you feed your dog, make sure that other people in the household, including guests also follow those rules. So, before you or anyone else throws your dog some spicy chips or leftover turkey bones under the table, make sure the human food is safe for dog to eat.

Dog sitting

Ignoring Their Need for Exercise 

Although energy levels may vary from dog to dog, every canine needs some form of physical activity. Partaking in regular exercise helps maintain their healthy weight, keeps their muscles strong and their joints flexible, as well as moderating their behavior. Exercise is a big part of a dog's mental and physical well-being. This is especially important for working dogs that need to have a job as well as be physically active in order to not get fat, be mentally stimulated and happy.

First-time dog owners often don't realize that if their dog isn't behaving well, much of it has to do with the lack of exercise. The pent-up energy is released in other ways, like biting on the couch or excessive barking. If your dog is anxious, getting them outside running around and sufficiently tired is a great way to relax them and ease some of that anxiety. 

Typically, a daily routine of 30 minutes of exercise (such as walking, playing fetch, or running around at the park) should be enough for your dog, but it also depends on their breed and personal exercise needs as some dogs may need a lot more. Even on days when you may be stuck inside due to the weather it is important to exercise your high energy dog at home

Skipping Vet Visits

Skipping vet visits is one of the mistakes dog owners make. Many pet parents wait until their dogs fall sick to visit the vet. But in their eagerness to make you, their loving pet parent happy, dogs will put up a brave front and not show signs of illness until it may be too far gone for them to hide it. Your dog is much more likely to stay fit and healthy if you do not skip their vet visits.

At times, the symptoms of an illness in dogs will be difficult to spot until it has escalated. Hence, it is better to make sure you visit the vet regularly so you can rest assured that they are doing well. 

As your pet gets older, regular vet visits will also ensure that your doggy is checked for early signs of arthritis, kidney and liver issues, heart problems as well as possible periodontal or gum disease, before it has a chance of affecting their health. The vet will also check their weight and monitor that they have the necessary vaccination and booster shots. Plus, you can discuss any concerns regarding your pet's health at that time.

Overfeeding Your Dog 

One of the most common mistakes pet owners make unintentionally is overfeeding their pets. This can be because some people think dogs need to eat several times a day, but the truth is that every dog is different, plus as dogs get older their appetite and need for food decreases.

Depending on their size, dogs need a specific number of calories every day to keep them healthy and well-nourished. Overfeeding can lead to many health complications for dogs, such as obesity.

While some dogs can self-regulate and will only eat as much food as they need it is still important not to leave food lying out all the time. This is especially important for dogs that are food motivated or have been neglected and now guard their food. 

Make sure to check your dog's daily calorie count and see that you aren't exceeding it when feeding. A healthy dog makes for a happy dog!

Older overweight golden retriever dog

A well-balanced diet also requires you to be vigilant with the treats you offer, especially the sweet ones. It can be hard to say no, but offering your dog too many treats is unhealthy for them and can create problems in the long term. You can try giving them cut up apples, carrots or blueberries instead of store-bought treats, but still in moderation!

Giving Your Dog the Wrong Chew Toy

Dogs love to chew, which is why chew toys are so great for them. However, not every chew toy is good for your dog. For instance, plastic or rubber toys are often made using toxic materials which are harmful to dogs. Make sure to buy from reputable brands that make toys specifically for dogs.

At the same time, some chew toys are way too hard for your dog to chew on. If a toy is harder than your dog's teeth, you should consider changing it because it can harm your dog's teeth and create dental problems.

The size of the toy matters as well. Giving your dog a toy that's too small can be a choking hazard, or it can cause an intestinal obstruction. On the other hand, large toys can damage your dog's gums and chewing muscles. 

Overall, when buying your dog's next chew toy, make sure it is nontoxic and the right size for them. If you have a puppy finding the right toy can be a challenge so to make it easier here is a great article to help you pick good toys for your dog.

Ignoring Their Personality

Every person you meet in your life has a different personality. So do dogs! 

If you are bringing home another dog and expect them to behave just like your first one, that is highly unlikely to happen, even if they are from the same litter. Every dog has a different personality. Not understanding this and expecting your new dog to behave like your previous one, or your friend's dog is quite a common mistake that many dog parents make.

Don't make judgements ahead of time. It is important to get to know your new dog and see what they are like

Do they like to laze around by the fire or do they want to do something fun every few minutes? Many people think that a dog's personality can be determined by its breed, but even dogs from the same litter can behave completely differently.  Do you know two siblings from the same parents that act the opposite of each other?  Why would we expect two dogs to be the same. 

Pet parents of multiple dogs commonly know that each one has their own special character. One dog may be calm, another anxious; one may be food motivated while the other only cares about play. Each dog needs to be treated as an individual. But even these pet parents sometimes forget and treat two different dogs in the same way. Make sure to spend time with your dog, figure out their personality and build a stronger bond with them by treating them according to what works best for that specific dog. 

Mistakes People Make When Adopting Rescue Animals

Rescue animals are different from regular dogs. They require more love and care because some of these dogs have been in abusive situations or have been through trauma, which can make them quite jumpy and anxious. 

Before adopting a rescue dog, ensure that you are capable of taking care of them. You should have the knowledge, patience and time required to take care of these sweet canines. Do your research and get a full understanding of what it is like to bring home a rescue dog. Speak to the authorities at the shelter. They can guide you about caring for the dog and will even share details about the dog's behavior, so you know what to expect.

dogs in a kennel

In addition, consider if your living situation is right for a rescue dog. A full house can be overwhelming; sudden noises and movements can terrify the poor little creatures, and they might act aggressively. It is crucial to keep an eye on them and not leave them unattended with pets or kids.

We know you want to start cuddling and training your pet as mentioned above, but in this case, remember that your rescue animal is trying to recover from stress and, quite possibly, trauma so go slow. Give them the space to recover before you begin trying to bond with them and teach them the rules of your home.

The Final Woof!

Whether you are a first time fur parent or an experienced one, we can all make some of the mistakes listed above when interacting with your dog.  Most of these things are pretty simple, yet can turn out to be upsetting or dangerous for you and your canine companion if not avoided. So be proactive and learn as much as you can about keeping a dog before you decide to add a furry friend to your family.

If you're looking for more tips, we have lots of information on how to look after dogs of all ages in our blog. If you are worried about your dog being stressed while you're at work or getting scared by fireworks or thunder? Check out these 5 Tips for Calming Down a Stressed Dog.

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