Critter Culture
The Do's and Don'ts of Doggie Ownership

The Do's and Don'ts of Doggie Ownership

Critter Culture Staff



Nobody's perfect; people make mistakes, especially when caring for pets. Sure, you try to do everything right for your pooch, but there may be a few things you overlook or honestly don't know about.

Many common mistakes go hand-in-hand with owning a dog. Learning what actions to take and which to avoid dramatically increases the chance of your furry friend living a long and happy life.


Not knowing what you're getting into

woman hugging her dog filadendron / Getty Images

Owning a dog is a huge commitment since you can easily have a decade or more with a pooch. A lot of people don't consider this and simply act on impulse because a child wants a pet or their hearts melt when seeing a cute critter. Emotions can trigger a strong desire to have an animal, but they prevent many folks from realizing all that ownership entails.

Upkeep, care, training, food, medication, exercise, and other fundamental needs all require money and time. Consider size, housetraining, shedding, children, and other pets. There are a lot of factors to examine, so making a rash decision could lead to a disastrous situation.


Keeping plants around your home

puppy looking at houseplants Sergeeva / Getty Images

Not many owners realize the dangers of common houseplants. Certainly, they liven up any living space, but the wrong ones can make your buddy very ill. Hundreds of plants contain toxins that will harm or even kill a dog. If you want to display plants, make sure they're canine-friendly. Remember that even safe ones may cause a bellyache if they're over-consumed.


Ignoring grooming needs

groomer giving Pomeranian dog a haircut Matic Grmek / Getty Images

Grooming requirements vary in all breeds, but every dog should be properly maintained. Some dogs need daily brushing or weekly baths. Others require regular ear cleanings or monthly nail clippings. Learn what's ideal for your pup's breed. Pay attention to their physical condition, too.

Many owners neglect consistent grooming, which can lead to infections, pain, and sensory problems. If you don't feel comfortable providing this routine maintenance, groomers and vets offer these services.


Improper exercise

puppy running in the yard with a ball in its mouth Stefan Cioata / Getty Images

Different breeds require certain amounts of exercise. Some dogs are fine with a daily walk, while others are high-energy and need frequent stimulation.

Not all pet owners take the time and effort to give their pup adequate exercise. You need to assess your dog's behavior to see if they're getting enough physical activity. If your furry friend seems bored, restless, excited, or hyper, increase their exercise regimen. Obesity and frequent barking are some other signs that your dog needs more playtime.


Poor food choices

puppy eating from bowl ti-ja / Getty Images

Canine nutrition is key for the health and well-being of your buddy. Over time, their needs change too, so it's important to always be aware of what your dog's eating. Many owners pay little regard to labels and ingredients, which can lead to skin irritation, obesity, malnutrition, and a shorter lifespan.

High-quality foods rich in protein and low in grain are what you should be looking for, ideally. Both wet and dry types, or a combination, are fine. Don't allow your dog 24-hour access to food, and try not to go too crazy with doggy treats.


Lack of training

Instructor holding a ball on the palm during the dog training Svitlana Hulko / Getty Images

Imagine a dog not knowing or having any rules. It's a situation that couldn't play out well, but some owners tend to forgo training and socialization for their dog, looking at these as either undue expenses or chores.

Training is an enriching activity — it's an investment that will provide your pup with a well-rounded and satisfying life. Helping them stay out of trouble will decrease behavioral issues and lessen the chance of fear or phobia development.


Not visiting the vet

A female veterinarian is holding a dog during a medical checkup FatCamera / Getty Images

Many pet owners put off going to the vet until something seems wrong with their animal. Don't ever wait this long. Regular checkups are important to your dog's health. These visits will help prevent your pooch from reaching the point where there's a serious problem. Often, illness and disease can be caught early on with routine blood work and wellness screenings.


Spaying and neutering negligence

Two Dalmatians relaxing at home alvarez / Getty Images

Unless you're a breeder, it's best to spay or neuter your pet. Even if you have a one-dog home, it helps prevent accidental pregnancies if your pooch gets out to explore the neighborhood for a few hours.

Pet overpopulation is a problem that never seems to disappear. Do your part to stop unplanned litters by spaying or neutering your furry friend. Not only will this help keep unwanted animals away from shelters and off the streets, but it will protect your dog from certain health issues like cancer or infections.


Ignoring protection and prevention

Shih Tzu with id tag JBryson / Getty Images

Another way to protect your dog is vigilance about vaccines and other treatments. Keep your pooch up-to-date with their shots, and make sure they're shielded from the dangers of fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

Protection also includes identification. Use any and all means to identify your dog in the event they run away from home. A lot of owners skip this process because their dogs are mostly indoors, but take every measure to ensure people know how to reunite you with your pal. ID tags and microchips are your best bet.


Not brushing their teeth

person about to brush a dog's teeth Tatsiana Volkava / Getty Images

There are plenty of dog owners who don't routinely brush their pet's teeth. Dental diseases are common in canines, especially as they age. Daily brushing is best but often quite hard to accomplish. Try to create a brushing routine and keep up with cleaning by using treats geared toward dental health. Your vet will also help with oral care.


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