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The Top 5 Worst Dog Owner Sins
Quality time is the key to good behavior!
Being a good pet owner requires diligence and responsibility
Do you have a neighbor with a dog in the yard that barks all night? Do you ever wonder how some people can even be allowed to own a pet? Or perhaps you wonder how you might be a better dog owner yourself? If so, consider some of the reasons why the dog-human relationship can be strained and how a dog's health can be improved with some disciplined attention.
1.) Not paying attention to the dog. One of the worst things a dog owner can do is get a dog and then just ignore it. A dog is a very socially oriented creature just like we are, so being left alone in a yard with no one paying attention to it can make it feel very lonely and stressed out. When the dog gets confused and anxious from being so isolated, that is when you have the nonstop barking that becomes irritating and frustrating to your neighbors. Be considerate of those living around you and address the issues causing your dog to bark, dig holes or create other disturbances. Prevent the "separation anxiety" by using the dog for what you originally got the dog-- companionship.
Play with the dog! Why have a dog if you aren't going to play with it?? Spend some time each day interacting with your dog by playing "fetch" or "tug-o-war" with toys, going for a walk, petting and praising your dog and making it do tricks for dog treats. Do whatever is fun for you and your pup. Your dog will benefit immensely from this interaction and you will both be much calmer and happier. If your dog stays separated from you constantly because of behavior or health problems, it is your responsibility to address those issues or to find a more suitable home for the animal.
2.) Never training the dog. Many of you may say, "But I don't know how to train a dog!" or "My dog doesn't listen to me." Whether you realize it or not, your dog looks to you for leadership. It is a pack animal and constantly needs to know its place in the pack. If you do not set down boundaries with the animal or exhibit firm, confident body language and behavior with it, the dog will believe it must take the lead since you are not fit to be a leader. This can ultimately stress the dog out because it feels insecure with you not knowing how to lead and it will cause you many problems as the dog continues to do/destroy what it wants, growl at you and not listen to you. Never tolerate insubordinate behavior with your dog. You must always approach the dog assertively and believe without a doubt that you are in charge. The dog will sense this attitude in your body language and will submit to you. Disciplining your dog takes more than yelling and a smack on the rear; you must demonstrate a calm and assertive way with the dog. Sign up for an obedience training class in your community--you will find the training is as much or more for you than the dog! Learn with your dog the three most important commands-- SIT, STAY and COME. Learning these commands and obeying them is crucial in many situations where you need to maintain control of your dog. An untrained dog is like a ticking time bomb; it is only a matter of time before it causes a disaster or injures someone.
3.) Neglecting the dog's physical needs. It really pains me to see a dog walking with its owner somewhere and notice its toenails are growing so long they are preventing the dog from walking properly or worse, growing right into the pad on its foot! Taking care of your dog is a basic part of dog ownership. You wouldn't let your child run around dirty and unkempt, so don't neglect your dog's appearance and health either. Snipping a dog's toenails is very important if they don't wear them down naturally on concrete or other rough surfaces regularly. It can be little daunting if you're not used to it, but once you learn where the quick of the nail is and how to avoid cutting it, it can be done. If you are unable to get your dog to comply with your clipping or you just don't feel comfortable doing it, you can always take the dog to a vet or groomers every few weeks to have it done. Washing your dog is also very important. While the dog may not mind being stinky and hates to have a bath, it can cut down on the spread of germs and filth accumulating in the dogs fur (and thus, spreading onto your floors and furniture) and is great for stimulating the dog's skin and natural oils to give it a healthy coat. Plus, your dog will smell and look good for a change which always makes him more pleasant to play with. This is also an opportunity for you to notice any skin conditions or pest infestations that might be on your dog and for your dog to get comfortable with you touching every part of its body (this is important to prevent someone getting bitten if your dog is not used to someone touching certain parts of his body like his feet or tail). If you are uncomfortable or uninterested in learning how to wash your dog, be sure to have them cleaned at a groomers periodically. This is especially important if you have a long haired breed, as regular brushing and bathing is very essential to their health. Otherwise, painful and nasty matting will occur that may have to be removed by a groomer or veterinarian.
4.) Feeding the dog poorly. We all have seen the fat little "weiner dogs" that look more like a bratwurst than a hot dog. Overfeeding or improperly feeding a dog is a common occurrence. As a general rule, table scraps should not be given to dogs, especially not while you are eating! This encourages a bad habit of the dog begging at the table and routinely eating food not intended for it. One also has to be careful what you feed certain breeds, as human food can have a worse effect on them than others; for example, schnauzers often have a weak pancreas and cannot tolerate a large amount of fat in one sitting. Unfortunately I have a family member who let their schnauzer eat an entire bucket of potato salad, after which the dog unfortunately died from acute pancreatitis! It can be hard to resist their begging little faces, but leaving "people food" out of the dog's diet will be better for it in the long run. Finding a good quality dog food and feeding the dog at a routine time is the best diet for your canine friend. Leaving the food bowl full at all times will only encourage your dog to overeat and plus you miss the opportunity of training your dog that food comes from you and you have dominance over when he gets to eat.
5.) Improper use of a leash. When you have your dog on a leash, it should not be allowed to run willy-nilly all over people's yards and run out in the street on those overly long, retractable leashes. The dog needs to be trained that you are in charge of walks and that pulling, lashing out at other dogs and ignoring commands to move on from interesting smells is not acceptable. If you've ever watch Cesar Milan and some of the leash disasters he's worked with, you know how awful a walk with an untrained dog can be. Leash time is your opportunity to assert your dominance and to have an enjoyable walk on your terms, not the dog's. Using a nice, strong leather leash about five feet long is all you need to walk your dog, not fancy retractable clothelines. The dog should never need to be far from your step when you walk, hence the command, "heel!" This will make it much easier to keep control of your dog on a walk which can be full of tons of distractions, including passersby who might not be crazy about a strange animal jumping on them or barking at them.
Having a dog should be an enjoyable, rewarding relationship. All it takes is a little time and attention to create some needed structure for your dog. Living with a dog is somewhat similar (on a smaller scale!) to having children; it can be a wonderful, rewarding experience but is also a huge responsibility and must be taken seriously if it is not to end in disaster!