1. Adopting a pet on a whim: Pets are a long-term commitment that require care, time, and money. The decision to adopt a new pet should be discussed with everyone in the household and preparations should be made before bringing a new animal home.
2. Not properly socializing young pets: Puppies and kittens need to be exposed to a variety of people and situations to build trust and social skills. Not providing proper socialization opportunities can translate into problem behaviors later in life.
3. Yelling at your dog for an accident: Housebreaking can be a trying time for any pet owner, but if you come home to a mess, scolding won’t help. Your pet won’t be able to associate your anger with the accident that likely happened much earlier in the day. Instead, offer plenty of praise when your pup does his business outside.
4. Skipping flea and tick medication: Parasites are a serious threat to dogs and cats. Opting to not protect your pet from fleas and ticks puts them at risk for an infestation and serious disease. Stick to a regular flea and tick control regimen to keep these harmful pests away.
5. Refilling the food bowl: Your intentions may be good, but always keeping your pet’s food bowl full is a big mistake. Overweight and obese animals are at a greater risk for heart disease, arthritis, and other serious medical issues. Discuss the proper amount of food for your pet with a vet and stick to it.
6. Letting your dog walk you: Basic training makes for a more well-adjusted dog and a happier owner. Also, taking a poorly trained large dog for a walk is a dangerous situation that can result in injury.
7. Giving pets too much alone time: Long periods of time without human interaction can lead to separation anxiety, which can cause undesirable behaviors like barking, digging, clawing, chewing, and inappropriate soiling. This is especially true with dogs. Look for other options while you’re gone during the day including a visit from a pet-sitter, doggie day care, or a regular dog walker.
8. Failing to set rules: Dog and cats don’t instinctively know that the couch is off-limits or that clawing at the carpet is bad. Use positive reinforcement to set firm and consistent rules from the beginning. Failing to set consistent boundaries will confuse pets and make training much more difficult later on.
9. Not properly supervising pets and kids: Children should be taught how to appropriately handle pets and should always be under the supervision of an adult. Sometimes a child’s enthusiasm can be misinterpreted by an animal, which can lead to a dangerous situation.
10. Skipping vet checkups: Regular veterinary visits ensure pets are always up-to-date on vaccinations and make it more likely that symptoms of serious illnesses are caught early on. Keep your four-legged best friend healthy by committing to annual checkups.