We love our furry family members, but sometimes we forget they aren’t human and don’t like some things that we do, and we don’t take into account that their little bodies react differently to things than ours do.
Here are a few things we need to rethink when it comes to our furry companions.
1. Attaching a leash to a collar
Some dogs like wearing collars, some dogs don’t. I like them for having identification as well as fashion, but I generally only recommend attaching a leash to a harness due to the damage that can be done to the neck and throat of a dog, especially one that pulls. That’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but overall this is my recommendation.
Whether you use a collar or a harness, you want to make sure it fits well, not too tight, and not too loose. On small and medium-sized dogs, you’ll want to be able to get a finger underneath of the collar or harness at any point comfortably. For large breed dogs, two fingers should fit comfortably. With harnesses, you want to make sure they don’t chafe anywhere either. A good fit makes a world of difference.
2. NEVER leave your dog alone in a car
There are 2 main reasons for this. First, the temperature inside of a car is much greater than that of the air outside of the car. Dogs can overheat very easily and very quickly so it’s just a big “NO” all around.
And even if you think you can just run in and leave your dog for just a minute, someone could steal your car with your dog or break in and steal your dog. It’s just not safe. Period.
3. Neglecting your dog’s dental health
if you’re a raw feeder, you may already provide your dog with raw meaty bones which are a great tool for keeping your dog’s teeth pearly white! If you’re not adding RMBs to your dogs’ diet, then you will definitely want to make sure you are brushing your dogs’ teeth regularly.
Even using a plain toothbrush (a doggy toothbrush) will help, but you can also add a bit of coconut oil to really make a big impact! Start building this habit early and your vet will be thrilled with how wonderful your dog’s teeth look!
4. Using chemical cleaners around your house
There was an entire post dedicated to this on Earth Day, so I won’t rehash everything, but many household cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can be very dangerous for your pets.
I recommend making your own cleaners, if you can, that way you know what you are using in your home and that they are safe for everyone!
Expanding on cleaners, we can also add air fresheners, scented candles, fabric softeners, and laundry detergent to the list. Really, anything with “natural fragrance” added is a no-go for me.
5. Using physical punishment
I can’t wait for the day when this no longer needs to be said, but never ever hit, punch or kick your dog! Don’t slap them or pull their tails or ears. Physical punishment is no way to train a dog and honestly, you are more likely to wind up with a dog who is going to lash out and bite someone because they need to defend themselves.
We all believe in science, right? Science has brought us all the wonderful things like gravity and antibiotics. And it also tells us that positive reinforcement is hands down the best and most effective way to teach anyone anything… including dogs.
6. Sending your dog away to obedience school (board & train)
You know I’m all for training our dogs, but if you ask me what I would say if I could only pick one rule of training, it would be that dog training is just as much about teaching the owner as it is about teaching the dog.
Not only will you have no idea how to continue to reinforce the good behavior when your dog gets home, but you will also have missed out on all of that incredibly valuable bonding you should have had with your dog.
You can go to puppy school or group classes, but make sure you are being taught along with your dog… and make sure you choose positive reinforcement training. If you are ever uncomfortable in a training class, don’t be afraid to speak up and remove your dog from the class. You are your dogs’ advocate!
7. Not providing enough exercise and enrichment
Most dogs need daily walks. Every dog is different and some will need more than once a day walks, while others may be in poor health and walking can be too much. You know your dog best, but one thing I’ve noticed with all of my training clients is that most dogs are not being appropriately stimulated.
Dogs need to work their minds as much as they need to work their bodies. Walks, runs, hikes are all wonderful exercises, but don’t forget about their brains! Allowing your dog time and room to sniff when out on a walk is great for their brains, so that is one thing you can do.
We can also provide them mental stimulation in the form of play, puzzle feeders, giving them a job to do (we also discussed this one in a past post) whether that be scent work, picking up their toys, or playing fetch in the backyard!
8. Letting children handle (hurt) your dog
I’ve seen far too many posts about people “needing to re-home their dog” because the dog snapped at a child in the house. This infuriates me because it’s is our responsibility as a parent and a pet guardian to keep children away from our pets and to only allow appropriate contact between pets and children.
Young children should never be left alone with any pet and should never be allowed to smack a dog or cat. They should also never be allowed to pull on any part of your pet or sit on them. It’s not cute or funny and can end with your child being bitten.
Children are also more likely to tease your pets, resulting in cat scratches and dog bites. Even if your dog doesn’t bite or growl, teasing is a very frustrating thing and can cause behavioral issues with your dog.
9. Ignoring Your Body Language & Your Dog’s Body Language
While our dogs understand some of what we say, they don’t speak English and the bulk of their behaviors and actions are a result of how they interpret our body language.
For example, the tension on the leash makes your dog nervous and anxious, so stop pulling on the leash constantly. Ideally, we would be walking our dog with a loose leash.
You also need to get better at reading your dog’s body language. For instance, many people think dogs “look guilty” when in fact dogs have no concept of guilt, they are reacting to your tone and body language. This is just one way in which many of us misinterpret our dogs.
Ok, so we’ve covered the 9 things I promised, but I have a bonus for you! These 2 tips actually come from Dr. Karen Becker.
Bonus #1. Not keeping your house clean enough
Don’t yell at me, I told you this one came from Dr. Becker! Seriously though, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I’m busy and often my household chores get put on the back burner. As I write this I have a to-do list a mile long and I’m not getting to any of it today because I still have a video to edit and a new ad campaign to create on YouTube.
According to Dr. Becker “Itchy, red, inflamed skin is a common sign of dust mite allergies.” She continues by letting us know that pet beds and bedding should be washed weekly.
I use sheets and blankets on all of my pet beds, which helps me extend their life, but if I’m honest I wash about every 2 weeks. I guess I need to step up my game!
Bonus #2. Not buying quality pet beds
Again, don’t shoot the messenger! Seriously, though, I’ve also been guilty of this. In more recent years I have invested in high-quality and yes, expensive, pet beds. They really do last longer and have more support for my pets, which was my original goal.
According to Dr. Becker “Pet beds are a common source of allergens, not only due to the dust mites but also the material that makes up the filling. Synthetic or latex memory foam can be allergenic, as can chemicals used in processing, including flame retardants.”
“Fabrics made of 100% organic cotton, hemp (a naturally grown crop that isn’t sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals), or a tightly woven microfiber fabric are less likely to trigger an allergic response. Silk is a great material as well because dust mites can’t survive in silk. And no matter what type of material, you’ll need to be sure to wash it regularly.”
My go-to for pet beds is West Paw, but I’ve heard wonderful things about Big Barker beds, but I haven’t ponied up the cash for one yet (and because Kim already has about 11 beds in the house).
So, tell me, what on this list has perked your interest and what changes will you be making in your home?