There are harmful things that you avoid doing to your dog because you know they are harmful – and then there are the things that slip under the radar.
You love your dog. Your dog loves you. But love is blind. It’s easy to hurt someone without noticing what you’re doing. They might not notice either, because it seems good at the time. You might overfeed your child. You might pay for everything for your partner – robbing them of their independence. But far, far worse is to harm your dog, since he trusts you so furiously and has no recourse to discover your unintentional transgression.
Let’s look at ten harmful things to avoid.
Harmful thing #1: You didn’t brush his teeth
Your dog will only get two sets of teeth in this life. Just like you. And just like you, there will be times when he’s too tired or drunk (on fun) to brush them. It’s up to you to ensure he sticks to his routine. In fact, you have to do it for him.
Start by getting the correct treatments. A doggy toothbrush and doggy toothpaste. Chewing sticks are good but, like human chewing gum, should be used to supplement a brushing routine.
Harmful thing #2: You took your puppy to a dog park
Dogs are sociable. Puppies are sociable to the power of pup. But you wouldn’t take your baby to a nightclub. Don’t let your puppy’s curiosity trick you into thinking he’s ready for grown-up fun.
Big dogs play rough. They may have diseases that your pupper is not yet ready to fight. Or they may simply be frightening to a young pup who does not yet know the ways of the world.
Harmful thing #3: You rapped him on the nose
Dogs need discipline. But a culture of fear is not the way to install it. A beaten dog is a scared dog. And anyway, physical punishment is animal abuse.
Train your dog with rewards. And if his behaviour remains out of line, sign him up for obedience school. He’s ready for it.
Harmful thing #4: You shouted at him
Shouting is no way to communicate with anyone, especially a dog. Dogs don’t speak human, for a start. When you shout at your dog, he just knows your angry. His response will be slower than if you’re kind, since he will be hesitant to try anything. And you will lose his trust.
If you shout at him because he’s barking, he will just think that you’re joining in with him. What a great game!
Harmful thing #5: You bought him a baggy collar
Everyone loves to be bought clothes. Except when the giver gets it terribly wrong. A big collar may give your dog the chance to escape. A collar that’s too small may choke him. And a harness might be a better idea if he likes to pull.
Harmful thing #6: You left him alone in the car
Dad may like to be left in the car with his tunes while you do the shopping, but doggo does not. Dogs overheat very quickly. The temperature in a car can increase by 20 degrees in just ten minutes. Don’t do it!
Harmful thing #7: You gave him chocolate
Dogs will eat most things if you give them the chance. People food looks good to them. But their bellies often can’t hurt it. The wrong food can kill your dog: learn what not to feed him.
Harmful thing #8: You gave him too much ‘me’ time
Dogs are pack animals. And they are used to having work to do. You saw how granddad got depressed after he retired: that’s how your dog feels when you give him nothing to do. It’s an existential issue. Take him for regular walks in interesting places, and give him plenty of attention at home.
Harmful thing #9: You let him ride loose
Dogs hate seat-belts and harnesses. But they hate being tossed through the windscreen of your car even more. So secure him properly when you go for a drive, and if the worst happens – or even a sudden jolt that could floor him – he’ll thank you for taking precautions.
Harmful thing #10: You treated him like he’s just another dog
When is a dog not just a dog? When he’s also a pug, or a German Shepherd, or any other breed. Not all dogs suffer alike: find out what breed-specific health issues your dog may face, take preventative measures when possible, and look out for symptoms that he’s suffering from a breed-specific ailment.
It’s not enough to love your dog big. You also need to love your dog right.