Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last Four Mistakes Dog Owners Make

In conclusion of the top TEN mistakes dog owners make, here are the remaining four mistakes. If you missed the others, please check the previous two blogs.

Mistake 7: Neglecting to Keep Your Pet Mentally Active
Why this is a mistake? Bored pets are more likely to get into trouble.

How to avoid it: Give your pets something to do. For a dog, that can mean having him hunt for food. Place a meal or treats in spots around the house for him to sniff out, or “feed him out of a food-dispensing puzzle toy instead of his bowl,” says Andrea Arden, author of Dog-Friendly Dog Training.

Mistake 8: Leaving a Pet Alone for Too Long

Why this is a mistake? A lack of proper companionship can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.

How to avoid it: “Don’t leave a puppy alone for eight hours.” Hire someone to watch him or drop him off at a doggie day-care center. Your puppy will need to learn how to be alone for a few hours each day, however, so “teach him to self-pacify almost immediately,” says Andrea Arden. Put him in a crate (or leash him to a stable object) a foot or two away from you, then gradually increase the distance over the course of a week. Then make sure that he spends escalating amounts of time alone in his crate or confined to a room. Break up the day for dogs of any age with a visit from a dog walker or a neighbor, and give your pet access to toys and visual stimuli.

Mistake 9: Failing to Make Your Home Pet-Friendly

Why this is a mistake? A dog without a cozy bed will end up on the couch.

How to avoid it: Dogs need spots where they can cuddle up and feel safe. “A dog needs a crate like a teenager needs a room,” says Arden. Provide a crate or a cozy bed, and make it taboo for your family to pester the dog while he’s in it.

Mistake 10: Punishing Your Pet

Why this is a mistake? You might think Bowser knows you are screaming at him because he ate the loaf of bread on the counter, but he will not connect your behavior with his action.

How to avoid it: Never physically punish your pet; he will just learn to fear you. It is OK to startle a pet out of a behavior, but only if you catch him in the act. Command him with a firm “No!” or “Down!” and he will connect the reaction with what he is doing and learn that it is not OK. Otherwise, the punishment should come from the environment. Teach a dog to stay away from the counter, by arranging sheet pans in a pile that will clatter to the floor. The counter, not you, will become the thing to fear.

I hope you have found some helpful information from reading the series of blogs relating to the common mistakes dog owners make.

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