Last year at this time we made a post about Improving Your Relationship with Your Dog. This year we thought that we would take a different approach and tell you how to ruin your dog. Although there are MANY more that could have been added to this list, here are just a few.
Ignore Every Warning Sign of Behavior Issues – This is a good one if you’re trying to screw up your dog. Fido bit the kids, he growls when you approach his food bowl, he appears fearful when strangers enter the home, and pins dogs to the ground upon meeting them – ahh, that’s nothing! It’s probably just a phase, he’ll grow out of it automatically on his own, just ignore it!
Why this can ruin a dog – Behavioral issues usually start to present themselves long before an actual “event” occurs. So whether you realize it or not, that weird little character flaw that you are seeing from your dog can quickly escalate into a full blown problem, and often times it’s a lot harder or sometimes impossible to fix. Many dogs end up in shelters because warning signs were missed and now the responsibility falls to the shelter and the future owner(s). It’s hard enough to adopt out dogs, let alone those with serious behavior issues. If you see something you’re not sure of, ask a trainer!!
Avoid Crate Training Like the Plague – OMG, crate training – NEVER! How dare you! Fido doesn’t need a crate, he’s about 1.5 years old now and he only pees and poops in the house a few times while you’re at work. He can be trusted inside the home while everyone is out, the couch he tore up was old and you were thinking about replacing your kitchen table and chairs anyway, right?! Perfect!
Why this can ruin a dog – You may not need to crate your dog for their entire lives, but it’s a great aid in potty training, it’s a fantastic aid in controlling space, it make traveling with your pet a lot easier, and I have never heard anyone regret crate training their dog! At some point in your dog’s life they are going to have to be crated – there is not getting around this. Whether it’s at the vet’s office, the groomer, a boarding facility, or at a friends home, the time will come to crate your dog. If you never expose your dog to a crate and teach them the correct way to behave in the crate, they are going to nervous, anxious, they may panic, and it will be extremely stressful for them, and injury is possible if they try hard enough to escape.
Encourage and Reward Whining and Other Signs of Anxiety – This seems to be one of the more popular items on the list. Fido cries in the crate, he runs over to you and shakes when the garbage truck drives past, he has also started to hide behind your legs when men enter the home, and he barks at the window to let you know that someone has just walked past the house. Make sure you let Fido knows that he’s doing a great job at being afraid, be sure to teach him that his crying is the best way to get your attention, and make sure you constantly touch him and tell him “it’s okay” when he’s fearful and hiding. That’ll learn ’em!
Why this can ruin a dog – Barking, fearfulness, whining, and other anxious behaviors are NOT desirable traits in dogs. So why do so many owners pet, praise, and verbally mark such behaviors? From my experience, dog owners may be attempting to send the correct message in these instances, but they are using human emotion to deal with a canine problem. If your child was nervous of thunder and lightening, you are going to give her a hug and tell her that it’s okay, there is nothing to worry about. When you do the same for a dog, your’re basically encouraging them to be more fearful by implementing physical touch and verbal praise. Marking and encouraging behaviors is training. It’s up to us to make sure that we are marking and encouraging the correct behaviors in our dogs.
Expect Them to Fill a Void in Your Life – Did you just go through a hard break up, are you lonely, dealing with depression, or having a hard time dealing with all that life is throwing at you lately? Let’s get a dog!!!!! Fido will be a great listener, it will be his job to love you, Fido will fill in where your life was lacking. No need to get to the root of the problem or deal with people in a social manner, that fuzzy little BFF will make it all better!
Why this can ruin a dog – If you expect a dog to fill a certain void in your life, you will put unrealistic pressures and responsibilities on your dog. You’re not going to be providing your dog with what he/she needs from you, but instead you’ll be expecting things from your dog that falls outside their umbrella; this quickly creates an unhealthy relationship and behavior issues ensue.
Avoid Training and Discipline as to Not Make Them Unhappy – This is a good one. Your last dog never had any training or rules and he was the happiest dog ever – ask anyone, they’ll tell you! Sure you had to chase him around the neighborhood on a weekly basis when he bolted out of the front door, he was anxious in the house and was always pacing around, he panicked and drooled profusely whenever we took him to the vet, and he was constantly barking at people who walked by the front of the home; but it’s cool, he liked it! Yeah, he may have had some issues, but at least you never made him do anything that he didn’t want to do.
Why this can ruin a dog – Some people tend to believe that happiness or spirit is demonstrated by the complete lack of self-restraint and boundaries. This couldn’t be further from the truth for a dog. The bottom line is a dog that is unbalanced, anxious, and neurotic is not a happy dog. They need discipline, structure, and rules in order to thrive in their environment. They need to be taught to relax and shut off at times, they need to learn to think, they need to know what is expected of them, and they need to be taught skills in order to handle daily life. All of this is accomplished through training and leads to a balanced and happy dog.