5 bad habits dog owners should stop

While we try to be the best dog owner possible, we may let a few bad habits sneak in. They may seem harmless, but they can have some negative side effects.

While we increasingly treat our pets as family members, we may also be letting bad habits creep in, which could put our dogs in danger. Are you guilty of any of these common bad habits of dog owners?

1. Overfeeding

While you may think that food = love, overfeeding can have significant negative impacts on your dog. Overfeeding can lead to weight gain and even obesity, which puts strain on their bones, muscles, and organs.

Another bad habit when it comes to food is giving your fur baby too much human food. While the occasional lick of your ice cream or puppachino likely won’t hurt your dog, consistently feeding them food that isn’t designed for them isn’t good for their health.

2. Under-exercising

Another bad habit that dog owners may fall into is under-exercising their pets. Like overfeeding, this can lead to weight gain and the potential negative side effects that come with your dog having to carry extra weight around.

Under-exercising can also lead to a destructive and overly excitable dog. If they’re not able to get rid of their energy in the great outdoors by either romping around a dog park or sniffing every blade of grass along your sidewalk, your dog can only expend that physical and mental energy in your home – with potentially unwelcome consequences.

3. Inconsistent behaviour training

We’ve likely all had that thought of ‘just this once’ when it comes to our dogs. For example, ‘just this once I’ll let them up on the couch’, ‘just this once I’ll let them try some food from my plate, it’s a special occasion after all’. But these ‘just this once’ allowances of non-desirable behaviour can lead to confusion for your pup. Especially if you’re giving in to begging behaviour.

Consistent training is essential for your pup to continue to express the desired behaviours, whether that’s coming when called, or staying on their bed while the family has dinner.

4. Improper socialisation

Dogs are social creature, but that doesn’t mean that being friendly with all dogs necessarily comes naturally to them. In fact, they may actually become protective of you and aggressive toward other people and animals if they’re not introduced to them from a young age. So, while they’re still young, be sure to slowly introduce them to new scenarios - especially around other people and dogs. If possible, take them to puppy classes while they’re still young, where they can meet other dogs their age in a controlled environment.

5. Not picking up after your pooch

Picking up their poop is not the most fun part of being a dog owner but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. And there are plenty of reasons why you really need to do it. For one thing, it can spread parasites and diseases - even if your dog isn’t showing any signs of illness. And people and other dogs don’t even need to come into direct contact with the faeces to be infected.

On top of this, dog poop takes months to decompose and doesn’t make great fertiliser, so you’re really not doing anyone any favours by leaving it lying around. Bear mind that you could even be hit with a fine for failing to pick up after your pup. Each Council has its own by-laws but in Auckland, for example, you can be fined $300.

If you do find yourself guilty of any of the above, don’t worry it’s not too late. Talk to your vet about feeding your dog appropriately and how much exercise they need. They may even be able to advise you about a local dog group or area where you can take your pooch to socialise safely. And, next time you’re at the pet store or supermarket, be sure to pick up a pack of doggy doo bags.