Ever been swept away by Fido while on a walk? A poorly trained dog can overpower you while you’re out for a leisurely stroll or a strenuous hike. According to the CDC, thousands of people end up in the emergency room every year because of falls like these. Obedience training has been shown to be the best way to make sure your furry friend doesn’t take you down during these wonderful opportunities for bonding between you and your pet.
Millions of dogs live on the street or end up euthanized because of unwanted litters. Many people are reluctant to spay or neuter their pets, but the fact is that spaying and neutering is a healthy choice for your pet. It reduces the risk of breast cancer in females and testicular cancer in males. Neutered males are also less likely to run away from home, mark their territory, or exhibit aggressive behaviors.
With the best intentions, some people keep their pets’ food bowls full at all times. This is one of the most common mistakes pet owners make. The problem is that cats and dogs often eat more than they need. If food is constantly available, they will take in too many calories and put on too much weight. To avoid this, follow the suggestions on the pet food label or ask your vet for guidance.
Vegetarian people sometimes want their pets to share their lifestyle. This means they must eat meat to survive. They depend on nutrients, such as the amino acid taurine, that are only found in animal tissue. Dogs may be able to handle a well-balanced vegetarian diet, but check with your vet first.
Just like people, pets need exercise to stay healthy. Couch potato pets are prone to obesity, which raises their risk of respiratory problems and joint problems. The right amount of exercise for a dog depends on the breed and size, but vets recommend at least a half-hour each day. Taking brisk walks with your dog can help you get in shape, too. Sure, you love your dog. But do you really understand him? If you think a wagging tail is always a good sign, you could be in for a nasty surprise. When a dog wants to threaten someone, he may hold his tail high and wave it stiffly back and forth. Mistake this warning for a sign of playfulness and you could get bitten. To avoid misunderstandings, learn about your pet’s body language.
Just like children, your pets will get bored if you don’t play with them. And boredom can lead to troublesome behaviors like chewing, digging, barking, and whining. Fight boredom by hiding treats for your pets to find around the house. Teach dogs to play fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek. It’s important to provide puppies and kittens with positive human interaction during their first seven weeks of life. This includes handling and play that fosters trust in people. Reputable breeders will begin this interaction, and you can continue the process when you bring your pet home. To develop a strong bond, play with your new puppy every day. Spending 8-10 hours alone in a crate, tiny laundry closet, or even outdoors is too much for most dogs. It can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors including chewing, soiling, digging, and nonstop barking or howling — even depression in a timid dog. Better choices are doggie day care, a mid-day visit from a pet sitter, or a canine companion. Adult dogs can go 4-5 hours in a crate but need exercise before and after. Some people expect their pets to know right from wrong without being told. But human etiquette does not come naturally to dogs. You need to make it clear that jumping up on people, scratching the furniture, and peeing on the carpet are unacceptable. Be consistent about the house rules, and reward your pets for good behavior. If you need guidance, consult a trainer promptly. if you come home to find a puddle of pee on the floor, you may have the urge to yell at your pet. But animal behavior experts say this will do no good at all. The transgression took place in the past, and your dog or cat won’t know why you are yelling. A better strategy is to praise your pets immediately when they do their business where they are supposed to.
Your dog may be tempted to rifle through the neighbor’s garbage in search of a treat, but don’t let her! Food gone bad is no healthier for pets than it is for people. Dogs who eat garbage are at risk for bacterial food poisoning or irritation of the pancreas. Spoiled food may also contain toxic mold, which can cause vomiting, severe tremors, seizures, and death.
To sum things up, owning a pet requires a lot of responsibility. It is easy to make mistakes, and easier to do it unknowingly. Read up on being a smart pet owner and use your local veterinarian as a resource in order to research and avoid common mistakes.