The Happy Puppers

23 common dog care mistakes

Common dog care mistakes

If you have been following my blog and my YouTube channel, you know that I feed around 15 to 20 dogs every day. On my feeding route, I have also met dogs who have families. However, most of the time, these dogs are ready to give up their families and come live with me. Why is that? This is because something is going wrong in the dog care process. Today’s article is dedicated to exactly that.

I aim to uncover all the mistakes in dog care that most dog guardians unknowingly commit. This does not mean that the dog guardian is bad or unfit for taking care of the dog. These are minor mistakes that guardians don’t even realize that they are making. However, this can hugely impact the health of their dog and the relationship they share with the pup.

Getting a dog is not about feeding him twice a day and taking him on walks. Taking care of a dog involves much more than these two factors. There are a million responsibilities that you need to take care of as a dog guardian. Every dog that I meet comes with its own personality. Thus, the needs of every dog differ from one another. All the dogs cannot be treated the same way. If you want to know how to become the best dog guardian, check the following list and find out where you are going wrong and correct it.

26 most common mistakes that dog guardians are conducting without even knowing it.

Getting the wrong dog (most common dog care mistake)

It may be hard to believe, but many guardians whom I meet did not conduct any research before adopting a dog. Some of these people have dogs that belong to working dog breeds like Rottweilers, Siberian Husky and German shepherds. However, they do not have the time to train them, walk them or even play with them. Who is suffering in the process? The poor pup. Why did they get a large dog? Because they like the looks.

This is not a valid reason to get a dog. The first thing that dog guardian needs to work on is which dog would be right for their lifestyle. If they do not have a lot of time to spend on training and walking, they should get a breed that is fairly easy to train and requires fewer daily walks. If you are unsure about the breed, discuss this with a veterinarian. They will be able to guide you and help you understand which breed will be most suited to your needs. On the other hand, you can also go through the questionnaires available on the Internet. They will be able to suggest breeds depending on your lifestyle, exercise levels, time availability, etc.

Common dog care mistakes
Common dog care mistakes

Getting a dog when you are not ready

Many dog guardians adopt a dog but then realize that they are either not ready or are hit with a severe case of puppy blues. Thus, both the dog and the guardian are miserable. Before you get a dog, there are certain things you should look into. Here is a list of questions that potential dog guardians should ask themselves before they get a dog:

Answering these questions will provide you an insight into whether you are ready to get a new dog or not. This way, both you and your dog will be happy and neither will feel miserable

Improper feeding practices

This is a problem for which both dog guardians and veterinarians are responsible. Most of the time, the dog guardians go for the brand that the veterinarian recommends. However, most of the commercial dog food that is available in the market is devoid of nutrients and has a high quantity of fiber.

Dry dog food

Even though the ingredient list includes chicken, fish, milk, etc, when the food goes through the drying process, the nutrients like proteins undergo degeneration and are not viable anymore. Therefore, you may feel that you are feeding your dog the best dog food, but it may not be enough to provide your dog all the nutrition that he requires. When administering dry dog food, always add supplements like multivitamins, calcium, etc so that the nutrient level is optimum.

Overfeeding is a bad dog care practice

This is not the right way to show love to your dog. Canine obesity is a huge problem and it occurs because you are all feeding your pup if you already have an obese pug, discuss with your vet about the best diet options and how much to feed your dog.

Be selective with the chews and treats

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion on Facebook and other social media about dog chews that have led to fatal situations. Before you give your dog any kind of dog chew, check the ingredients and properly research them since many dogs chew contain products that may be toxic to dogs. Alternatively, the rawhide bones are not recommended for dogs since the bones can either get stuck in your dog’s intestine or it can perforate the intestinal walls leading to internal bleeding.

How much treat to give?

Treats should also not make up for more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet. Therefore, add your treat quantity to the total diet quantity of your dog. You may have to do some calculations and make pouches for daily treat doses, but this will protect your dog from obesity in the long run.

Improper feeding practices

Skipping deworming medications (poor dog care practice)

Many dog guardians tend to overlook this part of the dog care process. They feel that the deworming medication is not important after the dog has become a full-grown adult. This is not true. The deworming meds continue throughout life. You cannot overlook the treatment just because your dog is not a puppy anymore. If you ignore deworming medication and your dog develops a huge infestation of worms in the intestine, it can lead to a potentially life-threatening situation. Therefore, do not ignore the advice your vet gives you about the deworming schedule and stick to it.

Skipping vaccinations

In most cases, dog guardians will go through the vaccination routine for the first year. However, in the following years, they start skipping the annual vaccination process. Annual vaccinations are the easiest way to prevent spending on medical health issues down the line. Therefore, never ignore the annual vaccination. Vaccinations not only protect your pup; they also protect other’s dogs from diseases that may easily get transmitted.

Neglecting dental health

This is a huge problem and a very common mistake that most dog guardians conduct without even realizing it. Since dog dental care is not discussed a lot on online platforms, most people seem to take it for granted. Around 80 to 90% of the dog guardians do not care about regular oral care of their dogs. Most often, guardians will give their dogs a dental chew and think that it is equivalent to teeth brushing. Dental chews are effective but to a certain point. Dental chews combined with teeth brushing provides the maximum care for your dog’s oral health.

If you do not properly care for your dog’s oral health, your dog may develop gum diseases and periodontitis in the future. All you have to do is brush your dog’s teeth daily. You can do this at any point in time in the day but it must be done regularly.

If you cannot maintain a proper dental care schedule at home, let your vet know about it. Your vet may ask you to bring in your dog for dental examinations every few months. Your vet will administer anesthesia to your dog and then clean his teeth. However, if you want to save up on vet visits for dental care, the best option is to brush your dog’s teeth daily. If you get your dog in the habit of regularly getting his teeth brushed, you will never have to face doggy breath.

Not taking your dog to the vet

Many dog guardians tend to overlook the minor health issues that their dogs may have. They will prefer taking their dog to the vet when the situation has become serious. This is not a good dog care practice. Unless you are well versed in the dog care process, you should take your dog to the vet immediately, if you notice something wrong with your dog.

Dogs are not humans. They will not tell you if they have a tummy ache. Dogs are also experts at hiding their problems. Therefore, if you notice something wrong, it probably has been bothering your dog for a long time. Therefore, it is wise to take your dog to the vet immediately and not put it off. This way your vet will be able to find out if there is a minor health issue with your dog and fix it before the problem becomes too much to handle.

Regular visits to the vet will also help foster a positive relationship between your dog and the veterinarian. This will help your vet to diagnose and easily treat your dog if, God forbid, a major illness strikes your dog in the future. Therefore, do not wait for the problem to escalate before you go to the vet. If your wet is far, you can always call them up and ask if you should bring your dog in.

Not taking your dog to vet

Not microchipping

This is another factor that many dog guardians overlook in the dog care process. Dogs get lost more often than you can imagine. Are you providing adequate protection to your dog? The first rule of thumb in preventing your dog getting lost is to get your dog microchipped. The moment you adopt a dog, get him microchipped. Alternatively, you can put an ID tag on your dog’s collar. This way, if your dog ever gets lost, responsible people can contact you have help you reunite with your pup. Otherwise, your dog may become the latest addition to a dog shelter. Is this the life you want for your dog? If not, get him microchipped and add an ID tag to the collar.

Not paying enough attention

It’s easy to ignore the signs that your dog might be giving out. Some dogs may be extremely vocal while others may not be so. Thus, in the case of quieter dogs, dog guardians tend to ignore the signs that their dogs are giving off since the dog is not excessively whining or howling. However, even if it is minor discomfort, it should not be ignored. As a dog guardian, it is your responsibility to know the body language of your dog inside out. You can only take care of your dog the right way if you know what cues to look for.

Not bothering with dog expenses

Having a dog is like having a permanent toddler. You will always have to buy things for your dog, take care of his medical bills, take him to public school etc. Most of these things will cost you money. Make sure that your monthly budget includes everything that you will need for your dog like dog supplies, dog food, veterinary care, dog trainer (if you need one), etc.

If your budget is a little tight, you may skim a little bit on the treats but the other factors of dog care must have enough budget allocated to them. This is something that you should take into consideration before you even think of getting a dog. You need to be financially stable to be able to afford a dog. You don’t know what the future might hold. But it would be irresponsible behavior if you get a dog despite knowing that it will be hard to provide him with everything that he needs.

Not trimming the nails

Yet another huge dog care problem that most dog guardians face. They tend to overlook the overgrown nails of the dog. If you have noticed, dogs have nails that are claw like. If the nails are allowed to grow, they will tend to curl up. This can cause a variety of other medical problems like:

Therefore, keeping the nails trimmed is of prime importance. If you are not able to trim your dog’s nails at home, take your dog to the groomers periodically. However, do not neglect overgrown nails. Along with nails, you should also check your dog’s paw pads regularly. This way if any infection is brewing, it can be taken care of at the earliest.

Expecting the groomers to handle all aspects of dog hygiene

Don’t rely on your groomer for all the aspects of dog hygiene. They are adept at making your dog look great. However, leaving all of the hygiene matters to the professionals is not an option. You can brush your dog’s coat periodically or regularly. This not only keeps your dog’s coat shiny, it also harbors and strengthens the relationship between you and your dog. Giving your dog a bath is not a huge trouble. It will also help your home smell better. Caring for your dog’s paw pads is your responsibility. If you do not check the paw pads regularly, by the time your dog reaches the groomer, the infection in the paw may have escalated. Therefore, it is your responsibility to thoroughly check your dog regularly so that any problem can be handled right at the start.

Grooming can be done at home

Cutting the matted hair in the ear

Most often, if dogs do not undergo regular ear grooming, the fur present in their ear can become thickly matted. However, this does not mean that you chop the matt off with scissors. This is a very common dog care mistake that most dog guardians make. Matt can be extremely difficult to comb or brush out. Therefore, very often, dog guardians decide to cut the mats out with scissors. This should not be done.

In many cases, guardians have mistakenly hurt the ear of the dog while trying to cut the matt off. It is very hard to figure out from the outside where the matt ends and the ear of your dog begins. If it seems to you that your dog has matts in his ear, take him to the groomers.

Not providing enough exercise

This is a problem that I have noticed in many dog guardians. They get a dog but they do not have the time to properly exercise him. The office work piles up and they do not find the time to train or exercised their pup. Is it the fault of your dog that you do not spend a little time with him? No. It is not the responsibility of the dog. It is the responsibility of the dog’s guardian.

If you have a busy schedule and do not have the time to spend with your dog, you need to make sure that someone provides your dog with proper mental and physical stimulation. You can either employ the help of a dog sitter, dog walker, or a pet sitter for that. Alternatively, you can also send your dog to a dog daycare. Make sure that you find the right dog daycare for your dog before you enroll him. Dog daycares and be an amazing option for busy dog guardians. They not only promote socialization among dogs, they also help dogs with training and mental stimulation.

Dismissing socialization

Every dog, whether he belongs to a large or small breed needs to be socialized. Imagine if you live in your house and do not talk to anyone. All you do is live in a room. Would life have a meaning or purpose? If you are not allowed to make friends, meet friends or even interact with other humans, you will start to feel depressed very soon. It is the same with dogs.

Dogs need the companionship of their canine friends. Granted, you are there for your dog all the time. However, having a human friend is not the same as having a canine friend. Many people get a dog, have him in the apartment or house, and do not introduce their dog to any other canine companion. This can seriously stunt the mental growth of the dog. Eventually, if your dog sees other dogs on the road or in dog parks, he will not know how to react. He may react by growling or behaving aggressively with other dogs. This can lead to a potentially dangerous situation for the other dog.

Start socialization early

Socialization must be started early in life. Do not wait for your puppy to become a full-grown adult before you start socializing. If you’re having trouble socializing your dog with other dogs, you can check out my blog post on how to introduce your dog to a new pup. The more your dog is socialized with other dogs, the more friendly he will be.

Socialization is not only meant for dogs to interact with other dogs. Socialization is also meant to get your dog interacting with other humans, teaching them the right way to greet other people, guests etc. The absence of socialization can lead to serious behavioral problems when your dog becomes a full-grown adult.

Furthermore, if your dog is not well socialized, you will not be able to take your dog to places like restaurants, dog parks, or other locations where they allow pets. Therefore, do not do this dog care mistake. If you have not socialized your dog yet, start today.

Socialization must be done correctly

When socializing, there are certain rules that you must follow. Allowing your dog to meet new dogs face to face is not a good option. This does not leave you much reaction time if one of the dogs decides to become aggressive. Before you can pull the dog away, the damage may have already occurred.

Either allow the dogs to meet through a fence first or let the dogs greet each other through the tail end before they meet face to face. One way you can facilitate interaction is by providing treats to both dogs simultaneously. This will establish both the dogs establish positive associations with the meet and greet process.

If you notice that your dog’s ears are going back and the fur is standing, it is a sign of aggression. Under such a circumstance, you must calmly take your dog away. Allow your dog to cool down. Give him around 5 to 10 minutes, before you take him back to the other pup. Always be on a vigilant watch and check your dog’s body language.

Socialization is crucial

Not starting training at the right age

Many dog guardians feel that training is something that should be started when the dog becomes an adult. However, this is not correct. The dog training process starts the moment the dog enters your home. If you decide to start the training process once your dog reaches adulthood, you will have a hoard of behavioral problems on your hand. It is crucial that you start the training process the moment your dog enters your life or after the dog turns six weeks old.

Skipping puppy crate training

Crates can come in very handy, especially in emergency situations, or if you have to relocate. Crates also tend to act as a dog den and as a safe place for your pup. Therefore, getting your puppy started on the crate training process early in life is crucial.

One thing that you must understand is crate training is not a solution to separation anxiety problems. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, he may try to chew the crate to escape. This can lead to a fatal situation with your dog injuring himself. Therefore, if your dog has separation anxiety, he needs to go through the counter conditioning and desensitization process. For this, you may have to enlist the help of a dog behaviorist or a dog trainer who has expertise in dealing with separation anxiety.

Leaving your dog alone for too long at a time

Dolls are inherently social just like humans. It is cruel to keep them in the crate for eight hours or longer. If you have work and cannot come back home before eight hours, you should employ the help of your dog sitter or someone who can come and let the dog out of the crate for some time so that he can conduct his business and go back into the crate. 

Skipping over the obedience classes

Another common dog care mistake. Even though this primarily falls in dog training, if this is not taken care of during the early stages, you can have a pup who has many bad behaviors that need correction. Therefore, it is a wise idea to take your dog to obedience classes. Obedience classes can help prevent bad habits like human aggression, food aggression, aggression towards other dogs, and a variety of other behavioral issues. You can treat this dog training process as a preventative tool so that you do not have to deal with a horde of behavioral problems later on.

Allowing negative behaviors to get out of control

The problem in the case of dogs, most often start during the puppyhood stages. The negative behaviors seem quirky when the dog is a puppy. Thus, dog guardians, most often ignore such behavior. However, the behavior continues to fester as your dog grows. Once your dog becomes a full-grown adult, suddenly the behavior becomes unacceptable. This is not the right way to care for your dog. The behavior problems should be nipped the moment you notice them. It does not matter whether your dog is a puppy or a senior dog. It is much easy to nip the behavioral problems in the early stages. Whether it is puppy nipping behavior, jumping on guests, not following instructions, excessive howling etc, addressing them promptly will allow your dog to get rid of these habits quicker.

However, if the problems escalate, get help from a dog trainer or a dog behaviorist.

Allowing negative behavior to increase

Inconsistency with the rules

Every member in the family has to follow a certain set of rules. The case is the same with your dog. Just because he looks adorable does not mean that he is exempt from the rules of the house. The sooner you teach your dogs the rules of the house, the better it is. However, if you implement the rules in an inconsistent manner, then you will have a ton of problems on your hand. If you decide to allow your dog on the sofa and the bed, that is perfectly fine. However, if you allow your dog on the sofa for a while and then suddenly, stop your dog from climbing on the sofa, it will just confuse your dog. The pup will feel that maybe he has committed a mistake and he is being punished. Therefore, the rules need to be clear and established right from the start.

Punishing and scolding

If you want to become an excellent dog guardian, you must put scolding and punishing your dog out of your vocabulary. No matter what the behavioral issue is, scolding and punishing do not solve it. Instead, these two approaches make your dog fearful or aggressive. Your dog does not understand why he is being yelled at. This only makes your dog confused and since yelling does not induce positive emotion, your dog may feel frightened and fearful of you. This will only hamper your relationship with your dog but will not fix any behavioral problems.

The only way to train your dog or correct a behavioral problem Is by using positive reinforcement. If your dog is conducting a negative behavior like jumping on you, ignore your dog unless he settles down. Eventually, your dog will learn that this is not acceptable behavior and stop doing it.

Using an improper fitting harness and collar

Another common problem in the dog care process. If the harness does not sit right on your dog it can lead to chafing or changes in the way your dog walks. Make sure that the harness is tight enough so it  can distribute the weight of your dog evenly. However, it should not cause rubbing and not slip off from your dog in the middle of the road.

If you have a dog who tends to slip off from the harness, you can use the harness along with a collar. You may have to use two leashes, but it is worth it if your dog is an escape artist. Ensure that when you put the collar on, you can slide at least two fingers underneath the collar easily.

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As I mentioned above, dog care involves much more than taking your dog to the vet when he is sick, providing walks and two square meals. If you have committed any of the above-mentioned mistakes, it is time that you change your dog care strategy and incorporate the missing points as a part of your dog care process. This will not only keep your pup happy; it will also strengthen your bond with your dog.

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Every dog guardian loves their dog to no end. Avoiding the mistakes mentioned above will make you the perfect dog guardian. If you have any queries about this blog post or any other on The Happy Puppers, feel free to reach out to me. You can either reach me via any of my social media channels or via email. You can also leave your queries in the comments section. I will be happy to help.

See you in my next blog post

Dr. Shruti 

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