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Play fetch with sticks

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It’s not uncommon for dogs to end up with injuries related to stick-based antics. They can injure themselves while carrying it, but the main danger is the stick bouncing and impaling your friend as they run towards it. It surprisingly results in several deaths every year! It’s safer and more fun to bring along a tennis ball or chew toy for them to chase.

Use retractable leashes

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For bigger breeds, these pose a danger to both your dog and yourself. They’re often incredibly thin and extend between five and ten feet, so the instinct when you have to control the animal is the grab at the lead section. The sharp fabric paired with the pull of the dog has landed many owners in hospital with hand lacerations.

Pull their leash for control

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Sharp pulls should only be reserved for when you have to control your animal. A hybrid bone around their mouths can easily be fractured by force, which will lead to several health complications. In a similar vein, you should avoid choke collars. The dog might seem fine with it – but they aren’t entirely aware of how it can harm them.

Use medication without consulting a vet

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Human medications, even topical, anti-bacterial ones, can be very dangerous for your four-legged pal. They often contain ingredients that are harmless to humans, like zinc or neomycin, but can lead to serious issues if they are ingested by your animal. If you’re not a medical professional then it’s doubtful wounds will be dressed properly, making accidental consumption and potential harm highly likely.

Let them in the bathroom

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These are just spaces where your dog has no business being. It’s funny watching dogs drink from toilet bowls, but it’s exactly as sanitary as you imagine and you should stop them doing it. Plus, consider the number of chemicals, cleaning products, and toiletries that they have easy access to in there.

Give them ice

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Hot weather takes its toll on our tiny furry friends, and giving them cold treats is a very good way to help them moderate their body temperature. Ice isn’t a great way to do this though, as it can easily fracture any sensitive teeth! There are plenty of vegetables and snacks that can be frozen and served with no issues, like carrots.

Give them alcohol

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It’s doubtful there are any responsible pet owners out there pouring a Jack Daniels on the rocks for Rex after a stressful day at the office. Regardless, it’s worth noting how toxic alcohol can be for dogs. A couple of drops you spill that get licked up by the furry Roomba isn’t lethal, but try to ensure your alcohol is sealed and stored out of sight.

Leave them in a hot car

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This has been proven time and time again, even a few minutes in a car with the windows cracked open can be fatal for dogs, especially older or weaker ones. Both cars and dogs are prone to overheating, so you should avoid ever combining the two. Excessive heat can cause brain damage or worse in less than five minutes.

Only get help when there’s a problem

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Dog healthcare is similar to human healthcare, it’s better to prevent than to treat. This means you should be taking your pet to the vet for regular check-ups every few months. This will ensure that you’re feeding and exercising them the proper amount and that their teeth, eyes, ears and body are all working as expected.

Punish them

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Much like with children, negative reinforcement is only going to lead to fear and anxiety for you, instead of respect and admiration. Training a dog takes a lot of time and effort, it’s about fostering a relationship and forming a strong bond between you and your canine pal. Shouting, screaming, and getting physical is antithetical to this.

Leave them outside for too long

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Dogs are excellent domestic animals because they enjoy the security that comes with a comfortable home and loving family. If you lack the physical space inside, it can be tempting to leave them outside where they can roam around. Too long without that security will lead to overly territorial and aggressive behavior.

Force your dog to be social

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One of the huge benefits of dog ownership is the social opportunities it presents. Many groups host dog walks, local owner forums, and pet-sitting boards. Not all dogs are okay with these kinds of interactions – just like us, they all have their own unique personalities. Pushing your pet too far will cause it to lash out, which is a danger to everyone.

Leave your dog unattended with children

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If you or a close family member has a child, it is a good idea to introduce the two – especially if they will be spending a long time with each other. This should always be done with at least two adults supervising at all times. The key to creating that lifelong bond is getting them off on the right foot.

Neuter them for behavioral reasons

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Much like a human, a dog’s hormones can affect their behavior. One of the first things people suggest for a dog who has some behavioral issues is the get them neutered, as it evens out their behavior. This isn’t exactly true, as canine behavior is incredibly complex, and what you think could be a hormonal action might be completely unrelated.

Use a bike to help exercise them

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Walking your pet is an incredible way to boost the amount of exercise the two of you get. Many who enjoy cycling often take their dog alongside them, but there are a few issues with this. You have much less control and stability, so if the dog bolts or bites you’re likely to hurt yourself. You also remove their time to enjoy the outside!

Walk all your dogs at once

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Some people can’t stop at one, and that’s absolutely fine! Every pup on Earth deserves a home and a family, and you often see the bigger families all out on the town at once. This is obviously the most time-effective way to do it, but it lacks the important one on one training and bonding time that walks help you foster respect.

Toilet train with puppy pads

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They’re great to have around for a pinch, and a great thing to have for anyone who regularly dog sits, but for toilet training your pup you might want to rethink them. It’s best to get started with a clear indoor-outdoor divide, giving them plenty of opportunity to ask to go outside through a closed door.

Bark at them

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It’s a natural reaction from pet owners to try and communicate with animals in a language they understand, but we don’t speak dog! How would you like it if something twice your size mimicked a human voice back at you? Barking at your dogs can be confusing and cause them to become scared or aggressive.

Take your puppy to the dog park

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Puppies are at a much higher risk of getting sick than fully grown dogs, and parks can be hotbeds for all kinds of nasty stuff. Common dog diseases can spread as well as fleas and ticks, which like diseases can cause all kinds of complications for your dog. Consult your vet and only consider animal socializing after the appropriate vaccinations.

Leave out food and water all the time

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Creating the expectation of a set meal time for your furry friend is going to make everything else in dog life so much easier for you. Like all animals, they are incredibly responsive to food, and that conditioning is going to help you set the base for toilet training, lead training, and everything else you two do together.

Allow a new dog to free-roam

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If you’ve had multiple pets in your life, you’ll know the first day has a lot of variance. Sometimes they can barely contain their excitement and energy, other times they will lay scared in a corner for hours. It takes time and patience to temper them, and you should do so by gradually allowing them to investigate new rooms to avoid any entitlement forming.

Let them sleep on the bed

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Everybody understands how hard it can be to say no to a dog who wants to cuddle in bed. It’s one of the great joys of life and there’s nothing on the bed that’s hurting them or dangerous, but letting them sleep there over night is going to cause some attachment anxieties. They can become more whiny and pining, lacking confidence in their own space.

Give in to small concessions

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If you think about raising a child, you can explain to them that small treats for themselves are fine as long as they keep moderation in mind. They might not understand immediately, but soon they’ll develop sentience and stop eating cookies before dinner. Dogs aren’t like this, when they try to pull you towards a tree or other animal, you have to stick firm.

Play on your phone during shared time

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Your dog might not understand why you’re scrolling through an app you closed 15 seconds ago, but they know when you’re not paying attention to them. Walks should be about continuing all the great habits you’ve been forming, as well as fostering the bond of trust between you. Both of these things require you to be present and reactive.

Run to them every time they cry

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A new puppy is likely going to get some separation anxiety as you leave it unattended for longer periods. By making sure they’re aware of the fact they will be safe in their own space even if you don’t come to them, you stop them from panicking while home alone. You’re going to prevent a lot of damaged furniture and shoes this way.

Use their bed as punishment

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Since you don’t want them sleeping on the bed, your dog will ideally have somewhere cozy, or a large cage if they’re a big breed. They don’t need to have the same sleep schedule as you, most need more than humans, but you want them to have somewhere they feel safe to rest properly. Putting them somewhere they feel afraid doesn’t help this.

Let the dog lead you

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For more reactive breeds, like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Border Collies, it’s a bad idea to let your dog get into the habit of leading you while out walking. Keep the lead short and slack, encouraging them to keep pace, and to lead them away from distractions, keep them moving while you angle yourself in front of it and guide them away.

Make a big deal when you come in

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You’re both going to be excited to see each other, but it’s in the dog’s best interest you keep your reunion low-key. By making it a big deal, you’re building up their excitement for something that’s going to be happening several times a day for the rest of their lives. That will add up to unnecessary anxiety and issues around you leaving.

Give in when they paw you

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Although it’s one of the most devastatingly adorable things an animal can do, it can foster some bad behaviors to keep rewarding them for pawing at you. It can lead to a scratch if they’re too excited, but also you want to reserve rewards for when they’re in a more calm and relaxed state of mind. You just have to stay strong!

Reach over them to pet

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You might have heard from Big Al that dogs can’t look up. It’s complicated, they can lift their head, but they lose a lot of mobility in their necks and their eyes aren’t as agile. This is why it’s believed dogs tilt their heads, to help them perceive elevation. Reaching over is going straight through a blind spot, and can cause them to panic.

Stroke them too much while playing

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Essentially, you want stroking to be a separate activity since it has a very different place in your relationship. While playing, the dog is excited, working out its energy, and enjoying the time it gets to use its teeth and claws. Stroking and petting is a relaxing and comforting time for them, so keeping them separate helps avoid any confusing accidents.

Leave your dog smelling like Doritos

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Several people online have compared a particular dog smell to msg-dusted corn chips, and many attribute it to high yeast diets or stomach problems. There’s no scientific evidence to support this idea, however, and what seems more likely is that it’s caused by a simple build-up of harmless bacteria, that create a yeast-like smell.

Act reassuring when your dog is fearful

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Dogs often get startled over quite small things to us, such as a strange smell or somebody at the door. The urge we have for humans to ease and minimize the situation doesn’t work for dogs, stroking them when they bark and retreat is saying it’s acceptable behavior for the situation. Act calm and continue as normal, and let them follow by example.

Don’t rush mealtime

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For the sake of their digestion and health, you should avoid any behaviors that make your dog feel rushed while they eat. This can include them eating before they go out for walks or taking away food as a punishment. This will make them speed up their eating in anticipation, which can trigger digestive issues and further stress.

Walk them without a lead around distractions

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Some particularly well-trained dogs can be trusted to walk behind their owner without the need for a leash, but even in this instance, it should only be done in less crowded areas. Once you reach the park, beach or wherever you’re heading, they can be let free or put on a longer lead to have fun, the walk is where most of the distractions are.

Never train their focus

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This is something you can weave into anything you do together. Anytime there is a distraction, you should train them with a visual clue to take their eyes away from the object and onto you to wait for permission. You can do this before treats, while out walking, and playing fetch, and can then be used whenever a distraction arises.

Not potty train them

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Potty training should start straight away by having a set schedule for their water intake. This will get them regular at least while they adjust to their new home. From there, smaller breeds of puppies should be let outside for an opportunity every 25-30 minutes, decreasing over time as they grow. It takes time, but it’s much better than the alternative.

Reward the jump up

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Unless you’re training your little guy to simulate ballroom dancing, you don’t really want them thinking it’s okay to jump up at people. That’s the kind of behavior fussing them while the bounce is rewarding, when instead you should avoid giving them attention calmly until they settle. After that, pat away.

Using a leash for the first time outside

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It’s hard enough finding a belt that fits well, and you wouldn’t risk going outside with a fresh one without a test drive. It’s good practice to get your dog used to the feeling and sensation of walking on a lead before they head out for the first time to make sure it’s not uncomfortable for either of you.

Take them outside before shots

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Anybody who isn’t aware of this has no business owning a dog, but it always bares repeating how important it is. Most vets suggest waiting until a few weeks after the second vaccine before taking them outside, but many allow earlier vaccines at around four to five weeks – so plan ahead!

Let them eat food off the ground

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This only applies to outside. If you’re eating at home and know the food is dog friendly, they’re much faster than a mop. Out in the world, however, food will become dangerous much quicker as it reacts to the elements, and can also hold viruses like parvo. CPV is deadly to dogs and can live on infected surfaces for an incredibly long time.