Like a new parent learning the role of parenthood, dog owners are apprentices when it comes to caring for their furry friends. So when you pick out your new friend from the shelter, keep in mind these common mistakes most dog owners make...
DON'T: Adopt a Dog You Can't Afford
Many dog ownership a normal, even essential, part of domestic life. But dogs are expensive, and a lots of folks who want one can't afford it. On average, dog owners spend $20 to $100 a month just feeding their dogs. Not to mention vet bills and grooming. These are necessities, and adopting a dog without being able to provide its basic needs is cruel.
DO: Know Your Breed's Specific Needs (and Expenses)
Larger dog breeds like Great Danes, golden retrievers and Labs need more food, which costs more compared to a spaniel or terrier. However, some small breeds, like poodles, need more grooming maintenance. Consider your breed's special needs in addition to regular vet visits, vaccinations, dog collars, leashes, chew toys, kennels and everything else all dogs need.
DON'T: Let Your Dog's Nails Grow Out of Control
A lot of dog owners fail to maintain their dogs' nails, and that's a problem for several reasons. For one, your dog's nails are more likely to split or break if you let them grow too long. Long nails can also snag on carpet or other material, which isn't just uncomfortable but dangerous too. Long nails can also curl inward and dig painfully into your dog’s paws.
DO: Clip Your Dog's Nails Regularly
You can clip your dog's nails yourself if you take care. Don't use your own nail clippers; buy clippers designed for dogs. Hold the paw firmly but gently. Clip as much of the nail as you can without cutting into the quick (the blood vessel within the nail). Your dog may have clear nails in which you can see the quick easily, or the nails may be black, making it difficult to pinpoint where to cut. For black nails, cut small pieces until you see the white inside the nail with a black dot in the center.
DON'T: Train Your Dog Inconsistently
A big mistake owners make is initially giving a dog strong commands, only to back off when they see those cute puppy-dog eyes. Inconsistent training will teach your dog nothing but how to walk all over you and disregard your rules. For example: If you're teaching your dog not to go on the couch, don't invite it up when you're watching TV and feel like cuddling.
DO: Train and Command Your Dog Firmly
Be firm and consistent in your commands. You're the boss, and it's your duty to maintain discipline. Be sure your rules are clear to help your dog behave obediently. Your dog's temperament and breed can make the process easier or more difficult, but it takes effort no matter what. Don't be afraid to seek help from obedience schools or other training programs.
DON'T: Adopt a Dog That Needs More Living Space Than You Have
It's important to have proper space for your dog not only for practical reasons but also to give your dog personal space. Your dog, like you, needs time to wind down and spend time in solitude. This helps your dog feel safe and put trust in you. Getting your dog their own bed or basket provides them with their own territory and a safe space to relax.
DO: Match Your Dog's Breed to Your Living Space
It doesn't necessarily follow that big dogs needs a lot of space and small dogs don't. Many larger dog breeds, like Great Danes and greyhounds, have low energy and tend to lie around, so they're surprisingly good apartment dogs. Conversely, some small breeds like terriers and beagles have tons of energy, so they require lots of room to run around. Do your research.
DON'T: Apply for a Dog License Before Vaccinating
Many dog owners make the mistake of applying for a dog license without first getting their dog vaccinated. Vaccination is often overlooked in general. That may lead to a dog contracting dangerous viral diseases such as rabies. A license will be issued once it is confirmed that your dog is protected against certain diseases.
DO: Know Your Area's Licensing Laws
You should get your dog vaccinated as early as possible to meet the requirements for getting a dog license. Typically, dog licenses should be renewed annually. But it's your responsibility to know the policy that applies to you and your dog, as licensing requirements vary in different countries and states. Follow the law to avoid hefty fines.
DON'T: Neglect Your Dog's Teeth
Many dog owners do not think about their dog's teeth when considering their overall well-being and often rely only on visits to the vet for maintaing their pet's dental health. However, you can and should monitor and manage the health of your dog's teeth yourself from home. It a necessary part of caring for your dog.
DO: Brush Your Dog's Teeth Regularly
A huge amount of dog owners don't brush their dogs' teeth often enough. In fact, most owners never brush their dogs' teeth at all. For ideal dental health, you should brush your dog's teeth every day, just like you brush your own. And the less you make it a routine, the more anxious it will make your dog when you do brush its teeth. So be consistent.
DON'T: Assume All Flea Collars Are the Same
Dog owners may be misled when shopping for flea collars. There are different flea collars for different treatments, so it's not uncommon for owners to make the mistake of buying the wrong one for their dog's needs. For example, some flea collars act as a flea repellent while other flea collars are treatments for when your dog is already infested.
DO: Buy the Right Flea Collar for Your Dog's Needs
If your dog is already suffering from fleas, buy a flea collar with strong insecticides that will kill fully developed fleas. If you are looking for a flea repellent, buy a gentler collar made with essential oils to prevent a possible flea infestation naturally. This will work well in warding off fleas but will be unsuccessful in eradicating those already present.
DON'T: Leave Your Dog Unchipped
If the worst happens and you lose your dog, when it's been missing for days and you're going through the futile exercise of stapling "LOST DOG" flyers to one telephone pole after another, you'll be kicking yourself for not installing a microchip in your dog as soon as you adopted it. It's the easiest thing you can do to protect your dog, and should be an owner's top priority.
DO: Microchip Your Dog ASAP
A microchip implant is about the size of a grain of rice and cost from $25 to $75 to implant under your dog's skin. The chip contains your dog's ID info, so if you lose your friend and someone takes it to a veterinary clinic, the vet can easily scan your dog's chip and obtain your contact info. It's the easiest and best way to ensure your lost dog won't stay lost for good.
DON'T: Let Your Dog Into Your Home With Dirty Paws
We're here to talk about the safety of your dog, not the spotlessness of your couch. And in addition to being, yes, an issue of cleanliness, cleaning your dog's paws is actually a safety issue. Those furry, padded feet collect all kinds of dirt and bacteria, not to mention chemicals from streets and lawns. When — not if, but when — your dog licks its paws, it'll ingest all that crud.
DO: Clean Your Dog's Paws After Walks
You don't need to give your dog a full bath every time you come inside from a walk, but a quick wipe of its feet is important. There are commercially available dog grooming wipes you can buy for just this purpose. But a regular towel will do the trick too. Keep one with your walking gear or near the door so you can wipe off your dog's feet as soon as you come home.
DON'T: You Keep Your Dog Too Isolated
It's OK to own just one dog. And it's OK if you are your dog's best friend. But your dog needs canine friends too. A dog who doesn't get to socialize with other dogs will develop behavioral problems. Your dog may grow aggressive and attack out of fear or anxiety, especially when it does encounter other, unfamiliar dogs, not to mention strange people.
DO: Socialize Your Dog With Other Dogs
Introduce your dog to dog parks, training classes and other situations where it can socialize with dogs and people. Be patient with your dog and ease it into various kinds of interaction (particularly with children, who can be overwhelmingly hands-on with doggies). The sooner you acclimate your dog to different social scenarios, the more at ease with them it'll be.
DON'T: Wash Your Dog With Your Own Shampoo or Soap
Your shampoo is designed for human skin and has ingredients particular to you. Using human shampoo to clean a dog can be uncomfortable for the dog at best, harmful at worst. Human shampoo can alter the pH range of a dog's skin, wish can lead to irritation, rashes and redness.
DO: Wash Your Dog With Shampoo Formulated for Dogs
Your pet's skin is more sensitive than yours, so it needs its own kind of soap. Dog shampoo maintains the healthy pH balance of your dog's skin, acts as a repellent against germs and ticks, maintains hygiene and also encourages a healthy coat. Shop around for one that suits your dog's need, and ask your vet for advice if you need to.