Top 5 Mistakes New Dog Owners Make & How to Avoid Them

5 common mistakes new dog owners make

When it comes to first-time pet ownership, there’s an abundance of information to take on board. From choosing the best breed, to not spaying or neutering pets, the best way to give your new pup a long and happy life is to avoid the pitfalls of the most common pet-parenting mistakes:

  1. FOCUSSING ON APPEARANCE FIRST

When it comes to choosing the right breed for you, it can be all-too-easy to chose a dog dependent on its looks. But while a cute pooch may entice you with its puppy-dog eyes, it may not have the personality to match. Despite its looks, a dog may be incompatible with your lifestyle – it’s important to think about your living environment; do you live in a city apartment or on a rural property? And how much exercise and stimulation a particular breed will require in order to be content. To ensure a joyful partnership between you and your pet, it’s important to consider characteristics as well as looks. Check out our guide on which breed is best for you here.

Read: 13 Best Dog Breeds for the City 

2. KILLING WITH KINDNESS

One of the most common mistakes to make as the new owner of a pet is to pander to its every whim and need. As loveable as your four-legged friend may be, it’s essential to set boundaries and rules from the get go – such as where they’re allowed to play and what they’re allowed to eat – to ensure a safe and happy haven for both parties.

3. NOT SPAYING OR NEUTERING YOUR DOG 

A process that has both medical and behavioural benefits, spaying or neutering your puppy is a crucial part of pet ownership. While many believe that spaying or neutering can cause weight gain, this is a common misconception; in fact, it can prevent both breast and testicular cancer, stop females from going into heat and reduce the likelihood of males roaming from home in order to find a partner.

4. LACK OF SOCIALISATION 

As a new pet-owner, it can be all too tempting to wrap your new pup in cotton wool, and keep it away from other dogs and humans alike. However, pets without proper socialisation can be at risk for behavioural issues down the road. Give your new pooch small doses of positive interaction with other dogs, children and adults alike within the first 12-16 weeks of its life to ensure your four-legged friend is a good-natured companion throughout his or her life.

Read: How to successfully socialise your puppy 

5. PUNISHING INSTEAD OF REWARDING 

Despite being a nation of dog-lovers, a common mistake of pet owners can be focusing on their bad behaviour instead of good. So, instead of yelling at them for doing something they shouldn’t, reward them for doing something they should. Punishing your four-legged friend can damage your relationship with them in the long run; whereas rewarding them will both reinforce appropriate behaviour and help to develop and hone your bond with your pet.

Have you made any of these mistakes your dog? Share your experiences with us in the comments below! 

lucy@lucypearson.org'

Lucy is a Sydney-based book and travel writer, formerly from the UK. She grew up with three sisters and a house full of pets, including a beloved black Labrador. Since moving to Australia she likes nothing more than dog-sitting for friends, and heading out to explore the city's many walks with a furry companion in tow.

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