While there are so many wonderful dogs out there in your local shelters just waiting for the forever homes they deserve, before you adopt, be sure to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you have a breed in mind, learn more about their characteristics and find out if they’re right for your family, your house or apartment, and your lifestyle.
But whatever you do to prepare for being the parent of a pooch, start out being aware of these eight simple things that many pet owners often overlook.
1. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car
By now, we’ve all heard enough stories about the dangers of this. It doesn’t matter how hot you think it is outside; once a car is left in the sun for even 30 minutes with the door closed and windows rolled up, temperatures inside can spike up to dangerous levels.
According to researchers at Stanford University, “when it’s 75 degrees outside (24 degrees Celsius) it can get to 94 degrees (34 degrees Celsius) inside after 10 minutes and 109 (43 degrees Celsius) after 30 minutes.” As dogs can only cool themselves by panting, they suffer even more than humans do. Watch this video from PETA with the one and only Simon Cowell to learn more.
2. Don’t give your dog mixed messages
Just like kids, dogs get themselves into a lot of scrapes, especially when they are just starting training. As the YouTube channel Relax My Dog stresses, “vocal communication works best with your dog when you’re wanting to discipline them.” Using the word “no” and “looking at them in a very firm way,” is the best strategy.
For this to work, you need to 1) be prompt, 2) be consistent, and 3) be firm, so that the dog knows what they’ve done wrong. Relax My Dog points out that when dogs do well, listening to your commands or stopping the bad behavior they were in the middle of, give them positive reinforcement, such as rewarding them with a treat.
3. Don’t overfeed your dog
Many new pet owners think that food equals love and give their dog way more than they need. Others feel sorry that their dog isn’t getting enough exercise or stimulation or has to spend lots of time on its own because its humans are at work or school all day. Just as for humans, too much food and not enough exercise for dogs can lead to all kinds of problems.
As vet Dr. Sarah Carter explained to PetMD: “an obese animal is not a healthy animal; they often have less energy and it is harder for them to get around [to] go for walks and get up and down stairs.”
4. Walk your dog, don’t let your dog walk you
Having a dog who pulls on the leash, runs erratically in every direction, and doesn’t wait for you at intersections or crosswalks isn’t just annoying; it’s dangerous for both of you. Start walking training early and make sure your dog understands the importance of staying with you for safety.
Let your dog know when it’s okay to have the leash off (such as fenced-in dog parks). While putting the leash on and taking it off before and after walks, make sure your dog sits and stays.
5. Don’t neglect your dog’s dental health
You would never let too much time go by without taking your dog to the vet to make sure they have the right vaccinations and aren’t getting heartworm or any other dangerous illnesses, so why would you neglect their teeth? Your dog needs good, healthy teeth to chew food, just like you do.
In addition to brushing your dog’s teeth at home, you should take them into the vet for a professional cleaning every six months to a year, according to PetMD.
6. Don’t use the wrong collar
Leashes that attach and pull directly on rings on neck collars can end up constricting your dog’s windpipe as they walk, effectively strangling them slowly.
Instead, get a comfortable harness that they step into. This will distribute the force of you pulling on the leash to their chest. This will not only prevent them from choking but will let them know when they need to stop for their own safety.
7. Don’t give your dogs the wrong food
[Infographic]Yay? or Nay? What can your dog eat? … https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/can-dogs-eat-apples-and-25-other-human-foods-for-dogs/
Once again, just like humans, there are lots of things that dogs technically can eat but really shouldn’t! In addition to a healthy dog food that has lots of natural protein and fiber, you can definitely share some human foods with your pooch.
Others however, like peanut butter or ice cream, are not healthy for your best friends, so keep them away!
8. Do Discipline, Don’t Punish
While disciplining is vital for your dog’s safety and well-being, as well as that of other people and dogs they will come into contact with, punishment is a dangerous and potentially inhumane route to go down. Hitting your dog is never okay; it won’t teach them a lesson and may make them even more aggressive.
Giving your dog a time out, such as putting them outside or in their room when they have done something wrong, can be a good strategy to help them cool down and understand what they did. But caging them up for long periods of time isn’t and can be psychologically damaging.
So remember, your dog is a living, thinking, and feeling being, not a toy! Treat them with love and care, just like you would any other member of your family!