Have you made mistakes with your dog?
Dog parent mistakes happen. If you’re human, you’re going to make mistakes. We, as humans, have made them, are making them now and will continue to make them as long as we live. And some of those mistakes involve our dogs.
While we know mistakes are going to happen from time to time, we can try to do better. Good dog parents try to learn better ways so they don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
As I look back over my years with dogs, I know I’ve made a bunch of mistakes. If you’re being honest, you have a number of mistakes you could admit to also.
These are some of the mistakes I’ve made. I can say that now because I’ve learned from them and have tried to become a better dog parent.
Dog parent mistake 1; a dog is just a thing
When I was growing up, we believed that dogs didn’t have feelings, think or need to be loved. They were convenient playthings that could be shoved out into the back yard when we didn’t want to spend time with them. We’d just pay attention when it was convenient and then ignore them again.
Thankfully, most people have grown in understanding since then. As I became more aware of greater possibilities, I started noticing more.
When I was happy, my pet would look happy too. When I took the time to pet and love on them, I could see by the smiles on their faces and the way they leaned into me that they felt loved. There was no other way to explain it.
If I behaved poorly or was in a bad mood, it worked the other way too, sadly. If I was grumpy or sharp with my dogs, they would look hurt. This was not fun to see, but I learned from it. I hope never to see that hurt look again, especially if I know I was the cause of it. This is one of the dog parent mistakes that I’ve learned from.
Mistake 2; dogs should just know what to do
The ability to walk on a lead or go potty outside was supposed to be preprogrammed, or so we thought. Dogs were supposed to just know without any training from me. I didn’t know I had to put the time in to teach them what I wanted them to do.
But puppies, like young children, need to be taught what is expected of them with patience and love. They need us to communicate to them in ways that they can understand because the behaviors we want are not natural to them.
I am NOT a professional dog trainer, but the more try to work with my dogs, the better I get at it.
Mistake 3; dogs need good food; not just to be fed
Everyone knew dogs needed to be fed. One of the most common dog parent mistakes we made was not consciously deciding what to feed our dogs. Most of us didn’t put any thought into what we fed. I could buy big bags of food at the grocery store and call it good. The cheaper, the better. And so very convenient.
In recent years, people know about lots of different types of feeding. They’re more aware of the effects of good or bad food on the look and feel of their dog.
To get a healthy dog, it turns out, we need to feed good, quality food with all the necessary ingredients and no harmful stuff. There are so many ideas about exactly what this entails.
Each dog parent comes to their own conclusion of the right way to feed their dogs. We don’t have to agree with each other about what makes up the right food, but we can each try our best to give our dogs what they need.
Mistake 4; vet trips are only for emergencies
Back in the day, vets were necessary for vaccines, spaying and obvious emergencies. Otherwise, they were to be avoided; too expensive.
Recently, veterinarians have become much more knowledgeable in how to help dogs with a wide range of issues. As our society has come to understand and value dogs for their contributions to our lives, the need for these services is much more appreciated.
Vets can help concerned dog parents form a plan for ongoing health. They can help coordinate diet, maintain teeth or form a plan of care for a long term issue, as well as give vaccines and treat emergencies. Enlisting their help can help you help your dog live a long and healthy life.
Dog parent mistakes, number 5; what relationship?
Another one of the dog parent mistakes that I confess to is that I didn’t consider building a relationship with my dogs. Rather than putting the time in to get to know the needs of my dog, I just assumed they were being naughty if they didn’t come when they were called or if they pottied in the house.
Turns out, when they chewed up a shoe, they weren’t being naughty. They were bored and didn’t know what else to do. Of course they ran away. Why would they want to be with a drill sargeant that didn’t respect them?
As I’ve learned to treat my dogs with respect and love as well as discipline, the better we get along. The more time I invest in understanding each of my dogs, the more we appreciate each other. They know what to expect from me and I know what to expect from them. Sure does make things nicer.
So many times, I look back and wish I’d known then what I know now. I can’t go back and undo those dog parent mistakes, but I can start fresh going forward. Fortunately for my current dogs, I am applying everything I’ve learned as best as I can in order to make their lives better. Read Confessions of a dog lover for some of the ways I want to do better. Or read this post from PetMD about pet mistakes.
I try look at the whole animal now, as much as I can. I’m not perfect, but I am certainly trying to grow every day. Tell me about your mistakes and what you’ve learned in the comments below.