Raising and looking after a dog is almost as taxing as rearing a child. One thing’s for sure: it requires the same kind of love and commitment. After all, dogs too are living beings, and they need a lot of care and attention in order to grow up to be as healthy as possible. The problem is that many dog owners make a series of essential mistakes which they are usually not even aware of, and which can be detrimental to their dog’s health and happiness. If you care about your dog, you will want to make sure that you are looking after them as well as possible. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest mistakes that you don’t even know you’re making when it comes to looking after your dog.
Playing Catch – When You Should Be Hiking
It is no great secret that you need to walk your dog and encourage them to exercise as much as possible. In fact, it is almost impossible to over-exercise them, so you might as well do this as much as you can. But something that a lot of dog owners completely fail to grasp is that the type of exercise you carry out with your dog is just as important as how much of it you do. Most dog owners play catch with their dogs, and this is so ubiquitous that it seems as though you couldn’t possibly argue with it. But as it turns out, this is not the kind of exercise your dog really needs. More than that, it could be actively harming them in the long run.
To delve into this more deeply, let’s think about the kind of exercise your dog would naturally engage in if they were a wild animal. For wolves, the biggest form of exercise they get is likely to be running and jumping, possibly to try and catch animals to eat. How often do you replicate this kind of exercise with your dog? If you find that you are playing half an hour of catch, then putting them back on the lead and trodding home, you are doing it wrong. Not only is your dog not getting the kind of exercise which they are naturally built for, research shows that you might even be causing lasting damage to their joints. So if you want to keep your dog at its peak health, make sure you trade in the tennis ball for some hiking gear, and go for a trek instead.
Repeating Commands – And Getting Nowhere Fast
Most dog owners would agree that it is beneficial to try and train the dog as well as you can. Not only is this part of the joy of having a dog for a pet, it is also beneficial for them. Modern domesticated dogs have evolved in such a way as to psychologically benefit from being trained by humans, so you don’t need to worry about being cruel here – it’s not cruelty to train a dog, it’s actually what they need. But the majority of dog owners are not all that great at actually managing to train their dog properly. It can be inordinately hard to do, and you would be forgiven for struggling a little from time to time. But there is one mistake in particular which is very common here, and which might be the cause of the majority of failed training sessions. It is, simply, repeating a command too often.
At first glance, this might seem like an absurd thing to suggest. But it’s true. Here’s the situation that most dog owners find themselves going through on a regular basis. They give an order (‘sit’, for example) and the pet does not respond in the right way. They then repeat the order, sometimes getting louder or even angry, until eventually the dog succeeds in sitting, albeit somewhat halfheartedly. The mistake here is in thinking that this is a success, when really all that has happened is that the owner has taught their dog to respond to a series of haltering, half-hearted commands. Essentially, the dog has learned the mistake, the stalling itself becomes the learned behavior, and it is one which is hard to get rid of
Instead of doing this, you should try to switch up your attitude and approach instead. This could mean treating it as if it is a fun trick, with rewards along the way. Most importantly, once your dog knows the behavior, what is being expected of them, only ask once. If you ask continuously, you are only weakening your own position as the leader of the pack – and that is not the way to get them to obey.
Forgetting The Importance Of Breed
This next common mistake occurs when you are thinking of actually buying a puppy. There are all sorts of considerations you need to take on board when you are buying a dog, and it is easy to overlook one or two. But not nearly enough people pay the proper due attention to the breed of the dog when they are out looking for one to buy. The fact is, the dog’s breed makes a huge difference to how suitable or not they might be to your current lifestyle, and therefore to how well you can look after the dog. It also affects what kind of dog food they like best, how you should exercise them, and whether or not they need a friend a two.
So how do you know whether or not a certain breed is suitable for your lifestyle? For this, it helps to remember that each breed has been bred to carry out a certain task. Some have been designed to work all day, others are particularly good guard dogs and prone to stillness. Some are more independent than others, while others might need a lot more one-on-one time with you. You need to research your desired breeds, and find one which is likely to fit in well with your current way of life. Only then can you be sure of looking after them properly – and living the kind of life you want to, with your pet in tow.