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The Five Most Common Ways Dog Owners Ruin Their Dogs

Updated on March 27, 2012

Are You Guilty of Any of These Mistakes?


While training your dog may take lots of patience, consistency and time, ruining your dog can just take a moment, often with the end result of undoing a good part of the hard work you  have invested in your dog. While the term ''ruining'' is a bit extreme, you can really do a lot of damage in little time if you refrain from following some basic guidelines fundamental for the integrity of the relationship with your dog.

Five Ways to Ruin Your Dog

Practice these behaviors and very likely you will end up with a dog with problems that may require lots of work to undo the damage. At times, depending on your dog and the amount of damage you have done, the help of a dog trainer or dog behavior specialist may be required to help your dog overcome the issues you have caused.

Using Aversive Training

Dog training in the recent decades, has undergone major changes when it comes shaping behaviors. While years ago, dogs were trained using coercive methods, today trainers are more oriented towards positive reinforcement. This because trainers have come to the conclusion that rewards motivate dogs more and increase the level in which the dog bonds with the owner. Mutual respect and an eagerness to please are the key to 21st century training.

Using strong corrections, physically punishing the dog, and using aversive training tools, on the other hand, shut down the dog and cause him to associate discomfort and pain with the owner. This causes lack of trust and a dog that works to avoid the pain rather than collaboration and respect. A lot of work may be necessary to undue the harm of harsh training methods and allow the dog to bloom.

Spoiling the Dog

At the other end of the spectrum, is the opposite problem of mistreating your dog: spoiling it. Spoiling a dog encompasses a variety of actions you may voluntarily or involuntarily commit. Feeding the dog table scraps, allowing him on the bed and furniture, permitting the dog to lead the way on walks, petting him anytime he asks for it, and generally, letting him get away with unwanted behaviors can easily ruin the best dog in a short time frame.

Owners must come to realize that sometimes the best to show love towards their dog is to actually treat him as a dog. Respect pack structure and do not let him rule the home, establish yourself as the benevolent leader, control resources and be your dog's guide on walks. This is the recipe for a dogs that respects you and knows his place in the pack.

Under Exercising the Dog

All dogs require some level of exercise to some extent. If you fail to provide exercise and mental stimulation to your dog you will likely have many problems. These problems may affect both the physical and mental status of your dog. Boredom indeed, is one of the primary causes of behavioral problems in dogs and often owners do not realize why their dog is ''acting up'' lately.

This especially applies to working dogs that have been bred to have a job. You can easily ruin a working dog breed by fialing to exercise it enough. The end results? Frustration, anxiety, over reactivity, hyper activity, tension and stress are a few examples. And do not be surprised if your dog starts chewing your furniture or break out in a sudden skin problem that your veterinarian attributes to his food.

• Neglecting the Dog

All dogs require some basic care and if you are unable to provide it, you will fail your dog. Dogs require food, veterinary care, toys, training tools, grooming, and much more to lead a decent life. If you cannot provide for this you are better off not adopting a dog. Often people adopt dogs and do not realize how much work they are and how much they may end up costing. This may ultimately ruin a dog which may likely end up being surrendered to a shelter.

Keeping the Dog Outdoors

Dogs are pack animals that thrive when they are with their owners. Forgetting your dog out all day in the yard, or worse, chaining him up, will ruin your dog. It is surprising how many dog owners do not realize the importance of this. Often dog owners complaint about their dog barking and pacing all day long in the yard when the solution to their dog's problems are right in front of them!

Bringing a dog into the home means making it live happy. The dog will no longer have a reason bark, because now the family has finally understood that his barking was caused by feeling lonely and being separated from his pack. Now that all is clear, the dog behaves much better and is even willing to follow some rules he never had before.

As seen, there are many ways to ruin your dog. Make sure not to incur in any of these errors and you will likely have a lovely dog that is eager to be with you and please you. Remember to love your dog for being a dog and providing him with all the basics to keep him happy. Your dog will thank you by providing you with the unbiased unconditional love this special species is so known for.


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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Sorry, but I am an R+ trainer that abides to the school of thought of Pat Miller. I am not ignorant, indeed I have obtained outstanding results using exclusively positive reinforcement and negative punishment. There are many misconceptions in regards to r+ training and you seem biased on this. However, I will not call you ignorant, just because we abide to different schools of thought! I would suggest educating yourself with APDT'S stance before criticizing me, according to APDT "The APDT recognizes that scientific studies have found that it is possible to effectively train animals using positive reinforcement and negative punishment."

    • profile image

      Mike 5 years ago

      Good points. Aside from the narrow minded view on aversives. There has been thousands of dogs trained with aversives succesfully. You forgot to add that positive punishment can be used succesfully, without causing pain or fear as can all quadrants of operant conditioning. You are either very ignorant when it comes to training, or left that out to further a personal belief. Though your average owner should not attempt them without proper guidance (as your average owner knows NOTHING about training), many dogs have turned out to be exceptionally obedient and happy through +P and +R training. Go to a reputable obedience competition, and seek out the top competitors. None will be positive trainers I assure you. Because positive reinforcement operant conditioning paired with negative punishment alone(removal of a pleasant stimulation from the dogs enviornment to decrease a behaviour) yields laughable results. Some properly applied aversives are necessary to obtain reliable results, and if you dont agree your fooling yourself. Or better yet, compete in an obedience competition, that is if you dont mind getting laughed out of an obedience ring.

    • sfrentz06 profile image

      sfrentz06 6 years ago from Sterling Heights, MI, USA

      Great hub!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      We have made a lot of mistakes with previous dogs.Trying to do better with this one.

    • SUSIE DUZY profile image

      SUSIE DUZY 6 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Thanks forthe tips. I have a really good dog and do not want to spoil her.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Spot on. The point that hit home to me was spoiling the dog. I had a wonderful rescue dog whose earlier life was all about being spoiled. Thank goodness, she was a smart dog and picked up new ways of living.

      A spoiled dog is the evidence of a human not being able to separate his own needs from the needs he perceives are the needs of the dog.

    • profile image

      lindatymensky 6 years ago

      Thanks for pointing out how bad it is to keep your dog outdoors, especially chained. It does more than ruin a dog, it is abusive. I'm in animal rescue. I've seen a dog go mad chained up 24/7. Good hub.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 6 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I knew a few tips off the bat but was not aware of not petting them when they want to be petted. Thanks

    • GetSmart profile image

      GetSmart 6 years ago

      Great tips. I have a tendency to spoil my babies, I am working on it. Thanks for the tips.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 6 years ago from Manhattan

      Great Article

    • Peter Owen profile image

      Peter Owen 6 years ago from West Hempstead, NY

      Right on target.