We all love our dogs and want to do what’s best for them, which also means keeping them as happy as possible! But what if we’re doing something that’s unknowingly making them unhappy or crushing their spirit? It’s likely you’re not, but just in case you’re unsure or want to help someone who might be stressing their dog, be sure to check out this list below!
#1 Not Exercising Your Dog
This is perhaps one of the biggest problems in dog ownership. It’s understandable if someone doesn’t want to be active and healthy, or has a disability that prevents them from getting on the move, but preventing your dog from getting adequate exercise is detrimental to both their physical and mental health. Dogs need to get outside, and that doesn’t mean just going out into the yard. Taking your dog for a walk or playing ball at the park is an excellent way to make sure your pooch has the right amount of exercise he needs, and it will only help strengthen your bond. After all, your dog wants to be with you, not out in the yard alone!
#2 Taking Your Dog’s Food & Toys Away
We’ve all seen people take their dog’s food bowl away while they’re eating or their toy away when they’re chewing on it. This came about by people wanting to show their dogs that they’re the alpha and that their dog should respect them. Resource guarding, when a dog becomes aggressive to protect a resource such as food or toys, often happens when owners don’t establish clear boundaries with their dogs. To prevent this, people think that they need to be able to constantly take food away in the middle of a meal or alpha roll their dogs as a punishment to ascertain their alpha status. Unfortunately, it’s often a highly misguided attempt at dog training.
All dogs that have been raised or given clear boundaries will willingly share their food or toys with their owners, and have no problem with it being taken away. So what’s the reason for doing it every time you feed your dog? Well, there ISN’T one! If you take your dog’s food away and give it back during every meal, all your dog really sees you as is a big bully that’s always there to take what he wants away. Your dog doesn’t understand why you’re doing this, and can actually become aggressive from the stress of knowing their meals will always be taken from them. The old rule of staying away from a dog if he’s eating should be more widely accepted, because it’s true. How would you like it if someone took your dinner away for a few minutes just because they could?
#3 Putting Your Dog in a Crate for Punishment
Crates are an excellent training tool. But the idea of crate training is to make your crate a fun and safe place for your dog to relax, yet so many owners insist on using it as a time-out place for dogs. This only leads to animosity towards the crate, and when you need to use it for something else you’re going to have a hard time getting your dog inside and keeping him stress-free when he’s confined. Dogs don’t understand time-out punishments, because they don’t speak our language and aren’t built to generalize the way humans to. Using time-outs won’t be seen as a correction to your dog for his bad behavior, and he won’t understand that he did something you didn’t like. Training happens in the moment of the event, and dogs aren’t children that will sit and think about their actions as the day goes on. So if you’re going to use a crate, please make ensure that it’s a fun and lovely place for your dog to rest!
#4 Constantly Yelling at Your Dog
Imagine if the only training you got at a brand new job was your boss yelling at you constantly for your mistakes. You’d probably really hate going to work! The same goes for your dog. When you have a dog that hasn’t had any basic training, and only gets yelled at all the time, he’s likely to be a very stressed out pooch. This is because he knows you’re upset and doesn’t understand why, because you haven’t taught him any manners or what behaviors are desirable. Not only that, but the constant emotional turmoil is felt by your dog, and you’re likely to damage your relationship. Another point to consider is how seriously your dog will take you when there is a very real problem. Think of it as the boy who cried wolf. If you’re always yelling for Fido to come here when he’s running around the backyard, but you never actually teach him to come to you, what do you think will happen when he runs out into traffic? He hears you yelling, but that’s nothing knew because you’re always yelling at him. So he runs right out there, and you can imagine how the story goes. In other words, yelling at your dog constantly doesn’t do anything to help him, and really only serves as a way to stress him out or get him lost or injured.
#5 Leaving Your Dog Alone for Extended Periods of Time
Most of us have jobs that keep us away during the day, and we leave our dogs at home to relax until we get home. But if you’ve got more than the average 40-hour a week job, and are constantly traveling or gone for more than 8 hours at a time, it might be worth considering whether a dog is a good choice of pet for you. Dogs are social animals and need to spend time with their families. That could be an entire household or just you. When they don’t get the socialization they need, they become sad, stressed, and even destructive. It’s important that you’re able to fit in the proper amount of exercise and playtime with your pup, even if you’ve got a busy schedule. If you’re gone for long periods of time during the day or travel often, make sure to find a suitable dog walker or doggy daycare that can keep your pup happy. Any dog that’s left alone for extended periods of time on a constant basis is likely to be unhappy and unhealthy. So make sure that you’re able to provide the love and care your pooch needs!