In this month’s edition of Round-Up Q & A we ask over two dozen of the most popular dog and pet bloggers on the internet two questions:

  1. What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?
  2. How can they fix/help this issue?

It’s clear that dog ownership can encompass many different trials, tribulations, and issues. However, we decided to leave this question open-ended so that it naturally touches on a variety of different subjects.

We appreciate the time and energy of the bloggers who responded to this month’s questions and we encourage you to visit and follow their blogs and websites!

Without further ado, here are the responses!

Lauren: ZoePhee: The Adventures of Zoe & Phoenix

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Not understanding their dog’s behavior and using outdated training techniques that they saw on TV.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

They can fix this issue by finding a qualified trainer who is educated in the latest science-based training techniques to help them work with their dog.

Amelia: Terra Toby

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

The biggest mistake I think dog owners make is not training their pets by finding an obedience class. Being in class helps you and your dog bond as a team. Living with a dog who knows basic obedience is much less stressful than constantly struggling with an animal who won’t do as you ask.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Dog owners should look for a class with a trainer who is experienced and has a positive philosophy on training (not punitive). Like many owners, Toby and I enjoyed our first class so much that we continued to take lots of classes over the years. Rally, agility, therapy dog, and CGC classes have all been great experiences and excellent socially for both of us 🙂

Patricia: The Other End of The Leash

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Communication! Or a lack of it perhaps. We humans often don’t spend as much energy as we should learning to “read” the visual signals that dogs send to us all the time about whether they are frightened, confused or simply don’t know we’re talking to them. We also aren’t quite as good at speaking clearly to our dogs, and often confuse them by using inconsistent cues. The better we are at both visual and verbal communication, the happier our dogs will be!

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

It’s not hard to learn to “read” a dog’s visual signals, we just have to learn to pay attention. The book For the Love of a Dog has photographs of dogs expressing different emotions, and they are not all that different from our own expressions (minus the fur and wet nose!). We can be more clear to our dogs by paying attention to exactly what we say and how we move our bodies around them. They don’t come hard wired speaking English after all!

Jen: Puppy Leaks

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

The biggest mistake I see dog owners make is skipping out on exercise, both mental & physical.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Dogs love having a routine, and many of them have been bred to work alongside us, so it’s imperative to give them stimulating stuff to do each day. When they’re not given enough to do they’ll come up with their own ways to keep busy, and that often leads to destructive behaviors such as excessive barking and chewing. Some great ways to keep your dog mentally & physically exercised include: walking your dog each day & letting them sniff around, using food puzzles, playing fetch, swimming, nose work games, hiking, playing tug of war and working on new tricks.

Kevin: Dog Lover’s Digest

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Assuming that medicines and foods that are meant for humans are okay to give to dogs.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

They can a small amount of time to educate themselves about proper care and feeding.

Bryn: A Dog Walks into a Bar

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Not having patience. All too often, pet owners think things will be perfect as soon as their new family member enters their lives. In reality, there will be accidents, stuff will get broken, something might get chewed on, tiffs between one dog and another in the home may occur. It isn’t always amazing, but it isn’t a reason to give up without trying, being patient, taking some deep breaths, and realizing they’re animals and no, they can’t actually read our minds.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

We as pet bloggers need to paint an honest picture of pet ownership, including the shitty situations so other pet owners don’t have an unrealistic expectation of how living with one or more than one animal should be. Pet owners need to be willing to invest the time to go to training with their dogs. They also need to be willing to invest the time for the remainder of the pet’s life to reinforce the things learned in training through positive reinforcement, continued enrichment, and dedicated care.

Katie: A Girl and Her Husky

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

I would say one of the biggest mistakes that dog owners make is not researching about breeds before getting their pet. I see a lot of people adopting or purchasing Siberian Huskies because they think they are pretty or like their personality, but then later find that they cannot handle the energy, stubbornness, or extreme shedding that comes with the breed.

When not properly exercised, a Siberian Husky can become VERY destructive (you may have seen pictures on social media before!) These dogs then end up in shelters because their owner did not research about the breed before hand. A simple google search could tell anyone this same information about the breed. I think it is important to find a dog whose temperament and personality matches your lifestyle.

If you are a busy person and do not have time to go on very long walks every day, then a more laid back and low energy dog would be a better fit. Different breeds have different levels of shedding, energy, affection, trainablity, and overall care needs. It is frustrating to see people get a dog that is known for a certain characteristic, then turn around and dump the dog because of that characteristic.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

This issue is easily fixed by just looking up dog breeds and their characteristics. If you think you might be interested in a certain breed, look up what goes into caring for that certain breed and see if it is still something you would be interested in. Siberian Huskies, for example, are an all over high maintenance breed, whereas breeds such as a Chihuahua or Pug are much more low maintenance.

Melissa: Barking from the Bayou

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

I believe the biggest mistake pet parents make not having enough patience with them.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

It is important to remember that in many cases, we are our dog’s entire world. That is a big responsibility to hold their happiness in our hands. I hope that helps.

Caren: Dakota’s Den

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

We happened to get our dog from a breeder when he was 8 months old. (The breeder was a responsible breeder and was a Vet). I had asked her to please be sure that she did leash training, she assured us that she would. (A dog should be trained to use a leash at a MUCH younger age than 8 months old). Well, long story short, my dog is 10 years old now and will ONLY go on his leash when he has to go to the bathroom. If we have to take him to the Vet we have to schedule an early appt and leave his leash on for HOURS…….or trick him with food. It is embarrassing. We hired trainers to correct the issue with no luck.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

While YES there are still people who get dogs from breeders (and there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT if it is a responsible breeder), we have to make sure BEFORE we bring the dog home, that it has been properly leash trained and that it will COME to you to have the leash put on when you WANT it to be put on. That has been (and remains) our biggest problem.

Barb: Dog Diary

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

I think the biggest problem could be that I live too far away from an overnight animal ER!

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

The solution is to move to the city or to have a vet on after hours speed dial. They don’t take after hours calls here in the “boonies” and it’s a 1.5 hour drive to the nearest all night ER. So I also stock up on first aid supplies. 🙁

Cathy: Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

It’s hard to pick just one, there are a few top mistakes people make. I’d say one of the biggest mistakes pet owners make while caring for pets is not responsibly spaying and neutering them. Another mistake is not letting their dog or cat be a dog or cat, insisting on treating them too much like a human baby. I hope this is the type of response you’re looking for, if not let me know.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Fixing the first one is easy – just Spay or Neuter! The other one is to stop treating your pet like a baby and allow them to be a dog or cat. Dogs bark, need to chew (appropriately), need to run and socialize, and need to build confidence.

Debbie: Fearful Dogs

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

They do not use food in training, or stop using food before behaviors are strong. And then when the behaviors get weaker or end, they think the dog is being naughty for not doing what they are asked to do. How many days would someone continue to go into work after they stopped getting a paycheck? Petting and praise are often like thank you’s and a plaque. They can be nice but they don’t keep people on the job.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Use food. Have food ready so that anytime a dog does something the owner likes or asks them to do, the dog can be paid for their efforts. This will increase the likelihood these behaviors will be repeated in the future. This is how professional animal trainers train everything from goldfish to tigers. Our dogs are often eager learners when they get something for their efforts. Portions of their regular food can often be used this way. There is no law that says food has to come from a bowl.

Anita: Feline Opines

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

I live in a resort area where dogs rule. People buy a home and many immediately look for a big dog to put in the back of their pickup or SUV. Canine companions accompany their humans on paddle boards and kayaks, they hike the trails with them and even swim with them at dog beach. All this sounds so wonderful and is why there are so many dog owners in my community. Yet, many of these dogs are left to roam their owner’s property while the owner is at work or worse, are chained during the day when the owner is not home. A dog, a cat, any pet should be considered a part of your family and not just a sports accessory nor are they baby surrogates. Dogs require love, training and attention and they need to be dogs.

If you spend time with your dog you begin to understand their personality, do they love to swim, are they a barker, are they nervous around other people, do they chase other animals? All these questions need to be addressed so that you and your canine have the best relationship possible. And that’s what it is, a relationship, so when you welcome a dog into your home you have to be prepared to proved the love, health care and training the dog requires. If dog owners are not prepared to invest the time, love and money dog ownership requires, I would recommend that they rethink bringing a dog into the family.

And if they are willing, the rewards of a loving canine companion are plentiful. I would love to add a dog to my feline Tribe of Five but at the moment, we are not home enough, nor do we have the time to invest in a canine family member right now, but I do have friends who are willing to share their dogs with me and I enjoy the time I spend with them.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

I think it all starts even before you bring the dog into your home. Do some research and think before you adopt. Don’t take a puppy home out of impulse. Ask yourself some questions, What is my lifestyle? Is it active or quiet? Are my children old enough to help care for the dog? Am I willing to work with the dog? How will the dog interact with the other pets in the house? What happens with the dog when I’m at work? Some shelters have cats that they introduce to dogs to gauge whether the dog is cat friendly.

Granted, you can’t always tell what breed type a shelter puppy is but there are clues and the folks at the shelter can help you. They interact with the puppies every day and can tell you about their observations about the dog’s personality. If you have a dog that is challenging and you didn’t plan before adopting use all the resources available to you, dog trainers, animal behaviorists, your veterinarians, doggy day care and information on blogs such as this. Every human-animal relationship is precious and like human-human relationships, not always easy. Patience, persistence and love are the key in all relationships.

Shelby: For The Love of Paws

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

This is a tough one, because it depends on the topic. Nutrition, exercise, there can be so many factors! I would definitely say buying a dog food that is not species appropriate.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Do your research! Read the back of your dog food bag. How much starch is in there? Carbohydrates? Really taking the time to figure out what these ingredients mean, and how they effect your dog, can be life or death sometimes.

Sharon: Grouchy Puppy

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Something I experienced first hand was the mistake of not having trusted resources on hand for a variety of dog issues before I brought my dog home. It was only after I had her for a long time did I create contact lists of varied but trusted veterinary service providers, dog sitters, groomers, pet food suppliers, you name it. I’m sure that I added a lot of unnecessary stress to moments because all I cared about was getting my dog the care she needed, and here I was sweating to make sure the providers were reputable. One example was the time we needed a veterinary hospital that was open on a Sunday, and at night. It took one emergency before I had three of them mapped, and on speed dial. I became very proactive over time and with every experience.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

The obvious fix would be to do some homework before you bring your dog home, but if that time has passed then just start now. Think ahead to possible “what ifs” then search out the vendors or resources you would need, read reviews of them, and ask your dog friends for references. Be proactive and put yourself in your dog’s place. Is your dog slowing down? Bet if a softer bed feels good to you, it feels good to an older dog’s joints and bones too. I also recommend creating a resource library of trusted websites and books, starting with a couple of primers. I really appreciated Dr. Pitcarin’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.

Cathy: I Love My Chi

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Not understanding the breed that they have. Every breed tends to have specific health problems, grooming requirements and personality quirks.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Research the breed you are interested before getting your dog. Talk to other dog owners that has the breed and ask them what they wished they had known before getting their dog. Also be sure you have the time and patience to invest in properly training your dog.

Kimberly: Keep The Tail Wagging

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

The biggest mistake that I see dog owners making while caring for their pet is failing to do their research.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Many of us are learning through social media which is a fantastic resource; the dog lover community on Facebook is vast. However, it’s important to remember that every dog is different and while asking for opinions or advice on Facebook is a great idea, it’s one of many steps. It’s important to remember that strangers we meet on social media have no experience with our pets, therefore, include their advice with feedback from a veterinarian or certified dog trainer along with the research we do to help us learn to be better dog parents. And never stop learning; as we learn more about raising dogs, we’re better equipped to provide them with happy, healthy lives.

Ryan: Kitty Desires

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Dogs are animals that require alot of attention, not like cats that prefer to only receive attention when they want it. So if you are a dog owner, you need to give your dog alot of attention, take your dogs for walks and play fetch with them. Before you go to sleep, tuck them in so they feel like they are part the family, which they are.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Put time in your schedule for your dog, just as you would any family member in your home. Make sure you take them for walks and play with them as often as possible. Dogs need love all the time, and remember, the more you love them the more they will love you back.

Lindsay: Little Dog Tips

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

The biggest mistake dog owners make is expecting too much, too soon, and then trying to punish their dog when they fail to behave up to that unreasonable expectation. For example, letting your dog off-leash in an unsecured area without lots of recall training on a long leash beforehand, then getting upset when they fail to come when called right away… yeah, I’ve been there!

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

It helps to make training fun and easy for the dog – which makes it fun for the owner too. Set your dog up for success and they won’t disappoint you. And when you do have setbacks, don’t blame the dog, think about what went wrong during training and consider it a lesson learned. Training is a learning experience for the human and the dog, and it’s a gift to be able to learn together.

Robin: Paw Province

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

I think one of the worst mistakes a dog owner could make is denying their dog proper exercise. I don’t care if your dog is small, senior, or lazy. I get that some older dogs or sick dogs are best off taking it easy, but please don’t think that only high-energy working breeds need exercise or that you don’t need to walk your dog every day because you have a fenced-in yard.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Walk your dog every day! Smaller dogs and more laid-back dogs are usually good to go after a daily walk or two, but some dogs will only be content with more walks, longer walks, biking, running, fetch, and swimming! It’s important to realize that the purpose your breed was bred to do will play a huge part in how they should be exercised. For example, Dachshunds were bred to go underground and hunt badgers while stretching those little legs. Along with daily walks, I also play chase and other high-drive games with my Dachshund to satisfy his hunting instinct and need to run.

Yvonne: Scratchings & Sniffings

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

The biggest mistake dog owners make caring for their pet is thinking their dog is a person. Yes, we all love them as family, but these are not “human beings”… this means, they have different nutritional needs, different medical needs, and different training needs. Granted, they love as we love and eat as we eat and learn as we learn (a bit), but when caring properly for them, pet parents should be researching and reading Dr. Marty Becker and Pet Wellness Advisor. Because, a well-cared for pet, is a happy pet.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

How do pet parents overcome this problem? They take the time, energy and effort and put it toward reading blogs, talking openly to their veterinarian (in that twice a year visit, at least!), and by learning which sites online are trustworthy.

Monika: Tails Around the Ranch

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

I think the biggest mistake I see pet ‘pawrents’ make is lack of training. Far too often in my hipster urban neighborhood, people who walk their dog are more engaged in their Twitter feed or Facebook than on their dog.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

As for a way to ‘fix’ that…we need to unplug a bit and be in the moment like our dogs. That of course applies across the societal board. Although I’m not convinced that will happen soon. Training would go a long way to making nice family pets and hopefully less dogs being exiled in shelters. Then again, and probably more germane to your company, feeding our pets quality dog food. Common commercial dog food seems to have contributed to increased rate of health problems. Feeding pets a high quality dog food goes a long way toward healthy and happy lives, for the pets and their owners.

Diane: To Dog With Love

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Free feeding their food.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

Free feeding is the practice of leaving food available for your dog all day. There are several great reasons NOT to free feed.

  1. Your dog’s healthy weight — dogs who free feed can put on the lbs in a hurry; instead measure your pup’s food and and pick it up if he hasn’t finished it in 10 minutes or so.
  2. Potty training — dogs with a set eating schedule are in the routine of eating and pottying at set times, making it easier to house train and keep them on a regular schedule.
  3. Training opportunities — meal time, and food in general, is a great way to train with positive reinforcement.
  4. Good hygiene — leaving food out all day can attract bugs and unwanted critters.
  5. Health monitoring — Poor appetite can be an indicator of a medical issue. When dogs free feed it’s difficult to determine if there is a change in appetite.

Peggy: The Writer’s Dog

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

As pet parents we often get frustrated by problem behaviors such as barking, whining, chewing and destroying property. I think the biggest mistake we can make is to punish the behavior without trying to understand the reason for the behavior.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

I think it’s important to try to see your world the way your dog experiences it. If your dog is barking excessively, determine if he may be bored, anxious, overheated or etc. Then take steps to change his environment. For example, if people/cats/squirrels/other dogs outside the window are causing him to bark, keep the shades closed so he won’t get distracted. If you need help, ask a trainer or read a good book–I really like Through a Dog’s Eyes by Jennifer Arnold.

Sadie: Sadie & Co – Her and Her Dogs, Plus the Cat

Question 1: What is the biggest mistake dog owners make while caring for their pet?

Not doing research, in my opinion, is the biggest mistake dog owners make. This may seem like a blanket response; however, I believe that research is the foundation of responsible pet-parenting and can help prevent mistakes and prepare us for the tremendous responsibility we are about to take on. That of a living, dependant being. Regardless of species.

Question 2: How can they fix/help this issue?

I also believe that research needs to be an ongoing process. Don’t be afraid to discuss concerns and inquire about options, and don’t rely on the first thing you read, or are told.