15 Everyday Habits of Great Dog Owners
Are you a good owner or a GREAT one? Check and see how many of these habits you’re already doing.
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You pick up more than just poop
Picking up your dog’s poop is Good Doggie Care 101 but truly great pet owners will be mindful of any mess their animal makes and clean up after them, says Ruth MacPete, veterinarian and author of Lisette the Vet. This means not only cleaning up poop piles from the neighbor’s lawn but wiping up pee, drool, or other liquids in public places; picking up the pieces when your dog shreds a toy; and making amends if your pup chews someone’s shoe, pees on a rug, or otherwise makes a mess. Your dog will pay you back tenfold with these 28 ways your dog is trying to say “I love you.”
You follow the rules even if you think they’re silly
Some public places don’t allow pets and great pet owners will obey the posted signs, even if you’re 100 percent sure your Good Boy would be just fine, Dr. MacPete says. “If a business only allows service animals, be respectful and leave your canine companion at home,” she says.
You do a daily “snout-to-tail” check
Great pet owners care deeply about their dog’s wellbeing and spend a few minutes each day giving them a once-over, says Neil Cohen, dog behavior expert, owner and head trainer at Sit Means Sit. “By touching your dog, from snout to tail (and everywhere in between) you not only teach a dog to accept your touch, should they need it in an emergency, but you also familiarize yourself with their body, enabling you to quickly notice anything that wasn’t there yesterday—like a tick, cut, tumor, etc.,” he explains.
You train your dog to have good manners
“Responsible dog owners socialize and train their dogs for how to behave in public,” MacPete says. Untrained dogs can cause all kinds of problems, intentionally or not, and a great owner will prepare them for different situations before bringing them in public. Not only does this protect other humans but it makes your doggo and his canine friends more comfortable too since they know what to expect. However, if your dog used to follow the rules but now blatantly disobeys, it’s a sign that your dog is secretly mad at you.
You respect that not everyone is a dog person
You love your pup with all your heart but a good pet owner recognizes that not everyone shares their love for animals. Whether others are allergic, have a dog phobia, or just don’t enjoy pets, rather than trying to convince them otherwise you respect their boundaries and train your dog to do so as well, MacPete says. Plus, forcing dogs to greet people they don’t want to is one of the 14 things you do that your dog secretly hates.
You are consistent with the rules
Great pet owners know that forbidding their dog to eat off the counter one day and then allowing it the next isn’t being kind, it’s just confusing. Dogs thrive with rules, Cohen says. “Maintain regular boundaries, for example, no counter surfing, no nose on the table, no jumping on people,” he says. “Boundaries establish leadership/authority and make your dog more comfortable in your pack.” Clear rules are one of the 19 things your dog really wants from you.
You let your dog sniff all the bushes
Most of the time people want their dog to conform to their lives but a great pet owner makes time for their dog to just be a dog. “You give your dog the gift of a sniff-filled walk or playtime with other dogs, playing in the way that makes the dog, not necessarily the humans, happy,” Benson says.
You walk your dog every day
“Great pet owners make time for a walk; a simple daily walk allows dogs to experience their world and be enriched by it,” Benson says. Walks are good exercise mentally and physically for dogs—not to mention their owners too, she adds. More exercise is just one of the many proven health benefits of owning a pet.
You encourage your dog’s natural instincts in a healthy way
All dogs are born needing to bite, chew, and chase but all too often those instincts get them in trouble in the human world. Great dog owners understand this and give the dog safe ways to express their nature, Benson says. “Give your dogs food puzzles or other games and toys that allow them to practice natural canine behaviors like chewing and ‘hunting’ for their food,” she says. Does your pup figure out toys quickly? This is one of the 13 simple ways to tell if your dog is smart.
You correct your dog with kindness
When your dog acts up, you need to bring them back in line but great dog owners know the difference between correction and punishment, says Kristi Benson, a certified canine therapy trainer and behavior expert. They use their voice to reassure, comfort, and correct their dog—not scare them, she says. “Good owners will not use yelling, swatting, training collars, or other physical punishments as they know they are bad for the dog’s welfare,” she explains. “Modern dog training techniques can help you teach your dog to obey without using harsh punishments.” Training collars are one of the pet products vets would never buy.