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What Not To Do To Your Dog

Updated on September 1, 2014

By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

Perfection is elusive. This applies to dog ownership, for being a perfect dog owner is almost impossible.

All dog owners make countless mistakes, despite their best intentions. Irresponsible owners make harmful, calculated ones.

Pet owners need awareness of these errors. We all have a part in making dog ownership an enjoyable responsibility.

Common Pet Owner Mistakes

1. Intentional Abuse

It is unfortunate, but those who engage in reprehensible conduct exist. They make choices that harm their dogs. Some of these border on cruelty.

a. Dog Fighting

The first of these is dog fighting. Some owners breed their dogs to engage in this cruel blood sport.

Dog breeds such as Pitbulls, Mastiffs and Rottweilers are expressly bred for this purpose.

A famous case involves petite blond Diane Whipple. Courts convicted two prominent lawyers, Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, for involuntary manslaughter and second degree murder.

A question raised in the course of the hearings was if the two had bred the dogs for fighting.

Their Presa Camaros, Bena and Hera, attacked Diane as she was going to her apartment.

b. Animal Hoarding

Stories abound about as many as 80 cats living in an apartment, or 100 dogs living in a cabin.

To give some well-intended owners some credit, they want to help as many strays as they can. Having so many animals in the home, however, means a total lack of hygiene. This is a bane for both owners and their pets.

c. Puppy Mills

An outstanding concern of animal welfare groups is the menace of puppy mills Owners of these mills often have no consideration for the well-being of the animals they breed.

They overlook hygienic practices and cram as many puppies as they can into a single cage. Puppies become impaired or stunted.

Avoid buying puppies from pet stores as many of them carry puppies from these mills.

d. Tethering

Another deliberate mistake owners make is to tether their dogs to chains for long periods of time. This is perfectly fine for short periods when a dog needs to wait for the owner.

Leaving a tethered dog, parched and in the hot sun is a rather inhumane act.

e. Backyard Breeding

Adding to this list of irresponsible acts is backyard breeding.

Simply put, this is the continuous breeding of dogs for monetary purposes.

Many little puppies and kittens end up in shelters because of negligent breeding practices.


2. Unintended Mistakes

Then, there are mistakes owners make without realizing them.

Here are a list of little errors that may affect discipline, training and the relationship between you and your dog.

a. Nagging

At the top of the list is nagging. I plead guilty to this. I sometimes subject my Westie, Cloudy, to a long tirade if she jumps on the sofa or urinates in a fit of excitement.

It is essential to never do this as it does not help improve the unwanted behavior in any way. Dogs do not understand long, droning verbal lectures. It is far better to keep instructions to a short, simple "no".

b. Yelling

Never yell at your dog for the same reason. Screaming at it for undesirable behavior instills fear with no productive outcomes.

It is far better to use simple verbal cues and reward it with wholesome treats.

c. Comforting a frightened dog.

The next error dog owners make may come as a surprise. Our basic instinct is to comfort our frightened dogs when they shudder at the sound of thunder.

Comforting a dog by petting it and saying "It's alright darling" is counterproductive. Dogs, as we know, do not understand human cues.

Instead, create a stable environment for your dog. Get it a thunder shirt. Give it a place in your home to go to when thunder rolls.

d. Giving it small, sharp bones

Further, avoid giving it small, sharp bones. Those who want to put their pets on a raw food diet need more awareness, as this diet involves giving the dog raw meat and bones to chew on to keep their teeth healthy.

It is best to give your dogs nylon bones. However, if you do want to give it fresh bones, make sure that they are large and not tough enough to splinter too much. The splinters may get caught between your dog's teeth.

e. Giving mixed signals/being inconsistent

Owners also forget themselves and give their dogs mixed signals. These are, understandably, difficult to avoid because they are subtle and easily overlooked.

One of them is telling a dog "no" for barking and, in a somewhat contradictory move, petting it on the head. It receives the signal that is alright to bark. It is better to say "no" and ignore the dog.

Some owners let the dog lead during a walk, scolding it sharply when it barks at other dogs. It already gets the signal that it is the leader for that walking session and it barks at other dogs for that reason. Scolding it for not ignoring them is contradictory.

Be the consistent leader of the pack.

f. Turn-taking

For the same reasons we have to practice being a pack leader, we have to train our dogs to take their turns.

Never let the dog go out of the door first when it is time for a walk. Make sure you do, consistently.

The dog gets the impression that it is the leader when it steps out of the door first. If you scold it for pulling you, it becomes confused.

Which is the most common pet owner mistake?

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3. Being a good pet owner

How do we become better pet owners? It involves a few simple practices that actually make the job easier.

a. Do a little research.

First, do a little research. Find out which dog breed suits your needs.

If you and your family live more sedentary lives, terriers or hounds are probably not for you. You would want a smaller dog like a chihuahua instead.

If you have small children, large dogs may not suit your needs.

Match the dog to you.

b. Train your dog.

Then, invest in a little obedience training. While this involves cost and time, it is necessary for the times when you have edgy visitors or need your dog to pay attention to you.

Take a few classes. Research on the internet is also rich.

c. Practice consistency.

Further, practice consistency. Give consistent, similar command and make sure that your family members use the same ones.

As described in several instances above, consistency in behavior is also important.

d. Limit treats.

To add, do not give your dog treats randomly. Attach a reason to the treat.

Only give them if your dog performs a specific command or behaves well.

e. Socialize your dog.

Spend time bringing your dog to parks and letting it get used to strangers as well. Very importantly, let it get used to other dogs.

This keeps it from becoming unnecessarily dominant or fearful.

f. Let your dog be a dog.

It is also important to let your dog act like one. Dogs must have their sniff fests and need to run around.

Take your dog for a daily jog. It keeps his body well-exercised and his emotions, stable.

g. Enrich its environment.

Besides letting it behave like a dog, enrich the dog's environment, especially if it is an older dog.

Give your dog puzzle games eg. the Kong toy to play with.

Bring it to dog runs where it can take part in agility exercises as well.

h. Do not leave it alone for too long.

Keeping your dog's mind active also means not leaving it alone for too long. Dogs may develop separation anxiety.

It is better not to own a dog in the first place if you have heavy work commitments that involve long commutes or unexpected, long hours. You may hire a dog sitter, but as with children, it is better to raise the dog yourself.

i. Find out the reasons behind his behaviors.

Apart from spending enough time with the dog, find out the reasons behind unwanted behaviors.

Perhaps your dog barks excessively. There is usually a valid reason for this, so find out what it is.

Your dog may urinate, then cower in fear. This is submissive urination, so you will need to find out what provokes this behavior.

j. Make him part of the family.

Lastly, make him part of the family. Give it an area to call its own.

Play with it and allow it to lie at your feet. Bond with it by taking it to the beach or enlisting its help with certain activities, like carrying small items in a bag pack for you.

4. Conclusion

Bearing all this in mind, you can be the best pet owner you can be.


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    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Boy, you sure made a long list of the dos and donts. Nevertheless, you did pointed out the owner's mistakes which I believe many people are still doing them. Great hub

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      People do so for odd reasons indeed, Pawpawwrites.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image


      6 years ago from Kansas

      I never could understand intentional abuse.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      No, it definitely isn't, Avian Novice! Thank you!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I don't have a pet at this time, due to my crazy work schedule. I miss having one, but I cannot have an animal and not be there, it just isn't right.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Devika!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Travmaj!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Barbara!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have had a few dogs and treated them so kindly. Some people can be cruel to dogs and don't care of how they treat them. Well-stated points here.

    • travmaj profile image


      6 years ago from australia

      So right Michelle , really good pointers and advice. I'm travelling at the moment so won't be around on hub pages much. Missing Nell but she's having the best of wishes...Maj

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is great advice for dog owners. It is especially good for first-time dog owners.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Vicki! Gizmo deserves all the love he can get. Say hi to him for me!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Deal!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Susan. I think she needs to work on a few things with her dog!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, beliza

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Pam!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Audrey!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Sounds like she may have had it a little rough with her previous owner, Dahoglund. Glad she's picking up with your help!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Aquamarine!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Vellur!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Paula! That's the whole idea.....pets and children.....same rules apply!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes they are indeed, Paula. People are vicious!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Bill.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great tips. My major downfall might be comforting my dog too much or giving him too many random treats. But he doesn't lack for love, and really, he's pretty well-behaved overall. :-)

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Nick Deal 

      6 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for the comprehensive list and starting with the evil dog owner.

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My dogs are spoiled but only when it comes to cooking for them. I know someone that thinks their dog is so well trained and it's such a joke.The dog jumps on everyone doesn't listen to her and she makes so many mistakes with the dog that I can see.

      Excellent hub!!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great advice, thank you!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Our furbaby is 10 now and was a rescue from the local Humane Society. We treat her like our third child and she is the most docile dog ever. You have some really good points on this page. THANK YOU for spreading the word about caring for your pets.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      I too have a spoiled pup--now 12--lots of great advice Michelle!!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Lot of good advice in your hub. I admit I fail in some areas. You comments on tethering caught my attention. We got our dog from a rescue organization that told us they spotted the dog tied outside and neglected. No information as to by whom or why. The rescue people did not have any info. The dog was dirty and starved. There is evidence that she had some good treatment previously, such as some training. She is a good dog but still shy and sometimes seems afraid of things.

    • Aquamarine18 profile image


      6 years ago

      I have had dogs all my life and cannot imagine myself without them. Very well written, very good information. Thanks for sharing

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Great tips on being the perfect dog owner. As you have mentioned in your hub, making the dog a part of the family is very important. Researching and finding the right dog to suit the family is an absolute must, great hub.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Carson City

      Michelle...I always enjoy your interesting and informative "Doggy" hubs.

      I don't recall a single period of time, from childhood on, that I was without a pet (dog, cat, Parakeet, bunny)....My kids as well always had a pet or 2 so it's all part of the "Family Life."

      To me, what's so important about your hub is: Worded just a bit differently, your list of do's & don'ts applies to parents of human children! And when we've brought in a pet, that's precisely how it should be! Up++++

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      6 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I don't own a dog, but it never ceases to amaze me how cruel people can be to animals and to other people. So horrifying.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Our dogs are about as spoiled as dogs can be. They have no concerns that we might do them wrong, and that's the way it should be. I love your love of animals, Michelle.


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