53 Mistakes Every Dog Owner Makes
Bad human! No!! Stopping rubbing your dog’s nose in their poop! It just confuses them and smears it all over your carpet.
Forgetting to microchip your pup
Priority number one after getting a new dog, whether puppy or rescue, should be making sure they can find their way back home if he or she ever gets lost. Over 10 million pets are lost every year and it happens to even the most responsible dog owners! The best way to protect your pup is to get it microchipped, says Aimee Gilbreath, executive director at the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. These small chips that are implanted in the folds of the skin in your pup’s shoulders hold a unique ID number that connects with your contact info (i.e. your phone number) that you supply online. It’s not a GPS tracker. Many shelters will offer inexpensive microchips or you can ask your vet about microchipping options, she says.
Not registering the microchip
Microchipping your dog is only half the battle—many owners don’t realize you have to also register the microchip with your name and current contact information for it to work. Many registries charge a yearly fee or you can opt for the free microchip registry by Michelson Found Animals, Gilbreath says. Make sure your information is current every year, she adds.
Dropping the leash and telling your dog to “make friends”
Sidra Monreal Photography/Shutterstock
Some dogs are immediately comfortable with other animals but many are not, and throwing your dog into a situation with another dog to “make friends” is a recipe for disaster, Gilbreath says. Start by making a careful introduction, looking for signs of distress in both animals. “Never force an interaction and have a place for each dog to go if they feel threatened—you can slowly bring them back together after they’ve had time to calm down,” she explains.
Expecting all your pets to get along perfectly from day one
Introducing a new dog to your existing pets requires planning and patience, Gilbreath says. Make the first introduction on neutral ground (as in, not your home), keep both dogs leashed at first to maintain control, and have plenty of treats on hand to reinforce good behavior, she recommends. The struggle is worth it: Check out these 19 dog adoption photos that will melt your heart.
Feeding your dog off your plate
It can be hard to resist Fido’s pleading eyes at the dinner table but letting him eat human food is a risky endeavor, Gilbreath says. “While most fruits and veggies are good for dogs, many aren’t,” she says. “The biggest no-nos are grapes, nuts, onions, and garlic.” These other common “people” foods are also toxic for dogs.
Putting a vase of flowers on a low table
Lilies, chrysanthemums, and tulips are all beautiful blooms but they are also toxic to dogs, Gilbreath says. “Many of nature’s beauties have ugly side effects that range from stomach issues to death,” she says. “You’d think your pup would be smart enough to not eat your floral arrangement but vets see plenty of these cases every year.” Keep your flowers out of reach and make sure you are familiar with this list of plants that are toxic to dogs.
Decorating for the holidays with poinsettias
Every year you see warnings about not allowing your pets near poinsettias. The hype is a little overblown—they won’t kill your pup — but it’s still good advice as the festive red plant contains a sap that may cause irritation to your dog’s mouth and stomach and may cause vomiting, Gilbreath says.
Not properly vetting your dog sitter
Just because someone is a loving pet owner doesn’t mean they’re qualified to be a pet sitter, says Beth Stultz-Hairston, vice president of Pet Sitters International. People see it as an easy way to earn some quick cash but there’s a lot more that goes into taking care of a pet than just feeding and walking them, she says. Not sure what to look for? Start with this pet sitter interview checklist.
Neglecting daily walks
Daily outdoor walks are as good for you as they are for your dog, yet when we get busy they are often one of the first things to go. This is a huge mistake, says Anthony Newman, certified canine behavior consultant, founder of Calm Energy Dog Training NYC. “No matter how smart, eager, and loving your dog is, he’s unlikely to be able to learn or remain well behaved if he hasn’t recently purged his mental, physical, and social energies outside,” he says. Make daily walks a must-do; your dog and your waistline will thank you! Find out exactly how owning a dog has major health benefits.
Never letting your pup run off-leash
Yes, walks are great but to be truly happy and healthy, dogs require some off-leash time, Newman says. Ideally, you take them to play in a dog park with other dogs. It’s not as simple as letting go of the leash, however. “This requires training in itself, to do safely and effectively, and not all dogs are capable of peaceful socializing; but most dogs are capable if shown the way, and if you can do it it’s worth the extra work,” he says. Don’t make an embarrassing fur-pas. These are the etiquette rules every dog owner must memorize.