Credit: @metlifepetinsurance via Instagram

Walk in front of you

Credit: @hamiltondogtraining via Instagram

This isn’t because allowing your dog to walk in front of you means your dog is asserting dominance over you – because that theory has been discredited. The truth is rather more prosaic: if you let your on-lead dog walk in front, there’s an excellent chance the dog will pull you around, which is tiring and can be dangerous.

Free feed

Credit: @savourlife via Instagram

This means giving the dog unlimited access to food throughout the day. There are several problems with this. First, it doesn’t work if you have more than one dog as you can’t control how much each dog is eating. It also makes your dog more prone to weight problems. Finally, it risks food spoiling or going to waste.


Credit: @bobbydoggydaycare via Instagram

Allowing your dog consistently to over-eat obviously risks it putting on too much weight – and, obviously, this has long-term health implications. However, a dog that eats too much at a single sitting risks a much more immediate issue: bloat. Also known as gastric torsion, this is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Drink too much water

Credit: @pathwater via Instagram

A variety of conditions can make your dog drink too much water. They include diabetes, Cushing’s disease and kidney disease. Never allow your pet to continue drinking excessive amounts of water without scheduling a prompt veterinary check-up. Apart from the need to treat any underlying condition, excessive water consumption can lead to water intoxication, which can be fatal.

Go in water with blue-green algae

Credit: @epagov via Instagram

Lakes or ponds that suddenly turn blue or green are probably suffering from an overgrowth of cyanobacteria. Often referred to as blue-green algae, it is toxic to people and animals. Dogs who enjoy swimming are at particular risk. Keep your pet out of water if you know or suspect a blue-green algal bloom.

Run up to an on-lead dog

Credit: @lowellhumanesociety via Instagram

Your dog might be the friendliest dog in the world. However, other people may have their dog on a lead for very good reasons. Perhaps the dog is old, infirm or very timid – or perhaps it is reactive. If you allow your pet to approach an on-leash dog, you risk traumatising both animals (as well as yourself and the other owner) and potentially provoking a fight.

Let your dog walk in or out of the house before you.

Credit: @foxie_jonze via Instagram

This isn’t because of the ‘alpha theory’ of dominance, which has been discredited. Rather, it’s because you need to control who goes in and out of the house – and when. For instance, a dog who pushes past to go out first may risk running into the road, while one who dashes into the house might get to a laid dining table before you do…

Greet you excitedly

Credit: Cees Bol via Pinterest

An excited dog is an out-of-control dog, and an out-of-control dog is more likely to jump up at you or someone else – potentially causing injury or distress. It’s also more likely to damage items in the home or even to hurt itself. Instead, teach your dog to sit when greeting someone, and behave patiently towards them.

Feed table scraps

LuckyRacer508 via Instagram

Table scraps should never make up the bulk of your dog’s food as they don’t make for a healthy, nutritionally-balanced diet. Additionally, they shouldn’t be fed as snacks or treats. The risk of feeding something unsuitable for dogs (onions, grapes etc) is too high, as is the risk that your dog will put on too much weight.

Allow them to jump up

Credit: absoluteDOGS via Facebook

Many dogs jump up as an habitual part of saying “hello”. And many owners tolerate or even encourage this behavior, especially in smaller dogs. However, this is unwise. Even a small dog can frighten or even hurt someone by jumping up, especially if it’s unexpected. It’s good practise to teach your dog to sit when greeting anyone.

Run with a stick in their mouth

Credit: @thebutlerblue via Instagram

Veterinarians report that accidents with sticks are far too common. For instance, small sticks can become wedged across the top of the dog’s mouth or even present a choking hazard. Impalement injuries during stick-throwing sessions are also a risk. If your dog likes sticks, make sure they only have smaller, more robust sticks.

Become lonely or bored

Credit: @updog_muipet via Instagram

A dog’s mental health matters. This is both for the animal’s own sake and for the sake of its family and the home in which it lives. A bored, lonely dog can quickly develop behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety. This may manifest as destructive behavior – including digging and chewing – or as incessant howling or barking, which can eventually become a nuisance.

Walk on a retractable leash

Credit: billybufflehead via Reddit

Although they’re convenient, especially when it comes to dogs with poor recall, these leashes are hard to retract in an emergency, meaning that your dog may injure another dog or person, or face recieving injury itself. The leashes can also cause friction burns when they become twisted around a hand or wrist.

Wear sunscreen

Credit: Luph via Reddit

Though you may want to protect your dog from the sun, remember that its coat provides natural protection. Moreover, human sunscreen contains zinc oxide, which will damage your dog’s intestines if it’s ingested. Vomiting and bloody diarrhea are warning signs that this may have happened.

Eat cooked chicken bones

Credit: frankcab via Reddit

Any cooked bone is very friable and can easily splinter into shards that can damage your dog’s throat, stomach and intestines, or even kill them. Due to their small size, chicken bones are particularly dangerous. If you want to give your dog a bone, feed raw bones and only under supervision – and preferably not belonging to a chicken.

Lick your face

Credit: Pituophisdogs via Reddit

‘Ah, he’s kissing you!’ is what we might say when our pet dog licks someone’s face. Unfortunately, however cute we may find the habit, it’s unhygienic and needs stopping. A dog’s mouth is a reservoir for all kinds of bacteria – none of which any human wants transmitted to them. You have no idea where that tongue has been!

Take human antibiotics

Credit: @hpbsg via Instagram

Even if you happen to have some human antibiotics hanging around, do not give them to your dog. Medicines formulated for people, including topical treatments, are not going to be suitable for animals. In some cases, they can be very dangerous indeed. If you think your pet could benefit from antibiotics, always consult your veterinarian.

Give them ice to eat

Credit: @metlifepetinsurance via Instagram

No matter how hot it is, resist the temptation to give your dog a bowl of ice. It’s a common cause of broken teeth, which are then vulnerable to infection. Then, of course, there’s the risk of an “ice burn” to your dog’s tongue. Instead of ice, try plain cold water or a frozen carrot instead, which are much safer alternatives.

Wear a choke collar

Credit: via Pinterest

Choke collars constrict when a dog pulls away. This is very dangerous, essentially constituting incomplete hanging – and a neck fracture or even death may ensue. The best collar to choose is a flat, fixed one that cannot constrict the neck but a correctly fitted harness is an even better option.

Stay unattended in the car

Credit: @Aiden_m365 via Instagram

Cars heat up very quickly and an unattended dog in a stationary car is very vulnerable to these temperature rises. Even a very short period in a hot car may have fatal consequences for a dog. Leaving the window open an inch or two isn’t going to help either and neither is parking the car in the shade. Just don’t leave your dog in a hot car.

Have access to the bathroom

Credit: @magnusthetherapydog via Instagram

The water in toilet bowls isn’t suitable for dogs to drink so, as a minimum, keep the lid closed. Moreover, most bathrooms also contain household cleaning products and personal items that may be toxic or dangerous to a curious dog. As a result, it’s always best to keep your dog out of your bathroom in general.

Drink alcohol

Credit: @truckyarddallas via Instagram

While a few drops of spilled wine or beer aren’t likely to pose a problem, alcohol consumption can provoke severe consequences in dogs. Diarrhea and vomiting are both likely, as is hypothermia. Moreover, mixers often contain xylitol, which is toxic even in small quantities to your K9 pal.

Exercise them in the heat

Credit: @bondvetclinic via Instagram

Dogs overheat easily and, every year, veterinarians report cases of heat stroke – often fatal – in animals who’ve been exercised when the weather is too hot. Exactly what constitutes an unsafe temperature will, to some extent, depend on your dog’s age, breed and weight. Take particular care with puppies, overweight dogs and flat-faced breeds, such as pugs.

Sleep in your bed

Credit: @deanthebasset via Instagram

Dogs aren’t great sleeping partners. They can make insomnia worse, wake you repeatedly throughout the night, exacerbate asthma or other allergies, and occasionally transfer disease to their human bed-fellow. In rare cases, a dog’s sleep reactivity can cause injury to a person.

Remain unsupervised with babies or young children

Credit: @dogmeets_baby via Instagram

No matter how “bomb proof” you think your dog is, never ever, leave it unsupervised with a baby or small child. Even the nicest dog is unpredictable, especially if it’s feeling unwell or if the child provokes it – whether intentionally or not – and it only takes a moment for something awful to happen.

Go off-lead in on-lead areas

Credit: @superwoofers_aus via Instagram

On-lead only areas are implemented for a reason. Perhaps it’s to ensure that children can play in safety, to allow picnickers to enjoy their meal without fearing scavenging dogs or perhaps it’s a result of a local mandate that all dogs must be on-lead when in public places. Whatever the reason, respect the rule.

Foul public areas

Credit: @cityofnorthvancouver via Instagram

Every year in the USA, pet dogs produce more than 21 billion pounds of poop. That’s a lot of poop by any estimation. And, of course, it’s riddled with pathogenic bacteria and parasites, all of which represent a significant threat to public health. Always, always, always, bag and bin your dog’s poop so nothing is left lying around.

Put up with being hugged

Credit: @michiganstateu via Instagram

For most humans, a hug is an expression of love or affection. However, dogs are not furry humans and they do not hug. Many good-natured, well-trained dogs will put up with hugs but, if they’re licking their lips, yawning or showing the whites of their eyes, they’re feeling uncomfortable – and an uncomfortable dog may sometimes growl, snap or bite.

Live without structure and rules

Credit: @victoriastilwell via Instagram

Dogs thrive best – and are happiest – when they have firm boundaries and know what is acceptable and what isn’t. Time spent enforcing those boundaries, with plenty of praise and treating along the way, is time well spent. What’s more, training is a life-long exercise, for both dog and owner – and, done right, is also a fun bonding activity.

Interact with dogs who don’t want to interact

Credit: @dogwise.books via Instagram

A dog who’s pushed too far, whether by a person or another dog, is likely to react aggressively. Calm, well-socialised dogs are good at reading other dogs’ body language and will be able to gauge when another dog does not want to “say hello” or play. However, not all dogs are calm or well-socialised, and if yours is one of these, you need to take direct responsibility for ensuring that your pet respects other dogs’ boundaries.

Put up with teasing

Credit: steady_as_a_rock via Reddit

No-one enjoys being teased, and this includes dogs. And as to what counts as teasing, it includes any action taken to provoke a dog simply because someone thinks it’s funny. Obvious examples include tail pulling and holding food deliberately out of reach. These actions can frustrate the dog, making them susceptible to bad behavior.

Interact with people who don’t want to interact

Credit: Uwe Brzezek via Pinterest

Some people are frightened of dogs. Others do not want to interact with them in particular circumstances, such as when they’re wearing clean clothes, eating a meal, out for a jog or when accompanied by small children who may be wary of dogs. Teaching your dog to ignore other people is a cornerstone of good dog training.

Wear dress-up clothes

Credit: SuzysSitcom via Pinterest

With surgical or ‘thunder’ vests (for nervous dogs) and, for short-haired, furless or otherwise vulnerable dogs, waterproof coats as the obvious exceptions, no dog should have to wear ‘clothes’. Yes, it might provide a great photo opportunity and a giggle for you, but always remember that a dog is not a toy and, even though they may put up with being dressed up, they don’t like it.

Go walking without the opportunity to stop and sniff

Credit: patti and friends via Pinterest

Dogs interpret the world through their noses. To them, a good sniff is the equivalent of reading the newspaper or denying a teenage child contact with their friends. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that a dog who regularly engages in scent-work is a calmer dog, because they’ll no more about their surroundings.

Live a boring life

Credit: @klausthebasset via Instagram

Even a couch potato canine needs stimulation. And this doesn’t just mean a couple of walks per day, especially if you’re leaving them for hours in between. Mix it up with doggie daycare, brain games, training, play sessions and grooming. Scent work games are particularly good: dogs love them and the exercise tends to leave them physically and mentally tired-out.

Put up with strong smells

Credit: @skinsafeproducts via Instagram

A dog’s nose is far more sensitive than any human’s. As a result, they can smell things we can’t and are more profoundly affected by scents we can smell. What’s more, some common household scents, including some diffusers and candles, are toxic to dogs (and other pets). Always check what you’re burning or spraying if you have a dog.

Be forced into a scary situation

Credit: @noregretsthejourney via Instagram

If you remember that a dog who’s ‘acting out’ isn’t deliberately giving you a hard time but, rather, is having a hard time, you’ll be much less likely to put your pet in a situation that it finds scary. Where it is necessary, use food treats and plenty of kind, positive words to help your pet.


Credit: @therealtrashcancharlie via Instagram

Dogs are natural scavengers, although some are more food-orientated than others – as anyone who’s ever had a Labrador or Dalmatian will know. Allowing your dog to scavenge unchecked, whether that’s outside or counter-surfing at home is potentially dangerous to the dog, and is also bad manners on their part.

Spend too much time alone

Credit: @headedwestdesigns via Instagram

Dogs are naturally social animals. For them, living without other dogs is an unnatural state of affairs – although they’ll usually do very well if they have sufficient human company. Leaving your dog (or dogs) alone for hours at a time is not fair to them and risks causing several behavioral problems.

Leave the world without you there

Credit: @wolfandico via Instagram

Anyone who’s ever loved a dog knows how hard it is when that dog’s life draws to its close. And yet, however hard it is, if you’re taking your pet to the vet for the last time, stay with them. Your beloved dog will feel calm and safe if the last thing it sees is you, if the last thing it feels is the touch of your hand, and the last thing it hears is your voice.