To ensure their dogs live a long, healthy life, all dog lovers want what is best for their canine friends. Despite love and care, at times dogs run into problems, at times caused by their owners.
Fortunately, the dog owning community is great for providing advice and support when it’s needed. Veterinarians are also a great resource to help maintain the health of pets.
Here are 15 common mistakes that dog owners can avoid to help keep their pet safe and happy.
1. Skipping the doggy dentist
Some dog owners will wait until there is a problem before providing dental care for their pet. However, just like humans, dogs need preventative care. By providing your dog with routine cleanings and check-ups, you can help prevent dental disease from happening.
Canine periodontal disease is serious and can lead to pain, tooth loss, bad breath, bacterial infections, bone loss, heart disease, and organ damage. To avoid this, have regular checkups, cleanings, and provide safe dental chews.
2. Feeding too many snacks
It’s hard to say no when they beg for a snack but keeping your dog at a healthy weight is good for their overall health. Canine obesity can cause health problems such as diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. It can also lead to injuries and cause back, hip, and knee problems.
A German shepherd requires about 25 - 30 calories per pound of body weight, per day (depending on their activity and age). A 75 pound active dog should consume approximately 1,875 a day. When you consider their caloric needs, it’s easy to see how extra snacks can easily add up to some extra pounds.
3. Going to dog parks
Dog parks are controversial and can lead to lots of debate between dog owners. There are people who take their dogs to the dog park all the time with seemingly no issues. There are also plenty of people with dog park horror stories.
The two big things we have against dog parks are one, the risk of disease and two, the risk of running into a dog with aggression issues. Rather than going to the dog park, we like the idea of meet ups at a familiar home or location where a few dogs that know each other can get together to run around and play.
4. Punishing your dog
Punishing or yelling at a dog will never take the place of training a dog. German shepherds are one breed that responds very well to positive, respectful leadership and training. The time taken to teach a dog will strengthen the bond between canine and human. Yelling at or punishing a dog can cause a dog to become anxious, fearful, and confused. Those behaviors can lead to many more problems.
5. Not enough exercise
Working breeds, such as German shepherds, have lots of energy. They require plenty of exercise or they can become destructive, anxious, or misbehave in general. Exercise can come in many forms such as training, playing fetch, allowing them to run around the yard, or go for a walk. A shepherd that does not get enough exercise will find a way to burn off their excess energy and it probably won’t be owner approved.
6. Lack of mental stimulation
In addition to physical exercise, the intelligent German shepherd needs plenty of mental stimulation. Since they were bred to work, they get bored easy. You can provide this stimulation during exercise times, with continued training, teaching new tricks, or engaging in canine enrichment activities.
7. Scrimping on a healthy diet
Choosing the cheapest food may cost you money in vet bills, in the long run. Pet foods containing fillers, controversial ingredients, and trendy ingredients probably should not even be called dog food. A more expensive label does not always equate to good nutrition. By researching your pet food, doing a back ground check on the recall history, and familiarizing yourself with harmful ingredients, you can help protect your dog from a low quality diet.
8. Not providing enough water
Dogs need lots of fresh water every day. Since most eat a dry, kibble based diet, they require lots of moisture to keep their kidneys healthy. Dogs prefer their water to be fresh and changed regularly. Drinking water helps move nutrients in and out of cells, aids in digestion, and improves the absorption of nutrients. According to petmd.com, dogs need one ounce of water per pound of body weight daily.
9. Not educating yourself on breed specific health problems
German shepherds are prone to certain health problems. By familiarizing yourself with symptoms of diseases such as bloat, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, lupus, degenerative myelopathy, pannus, diabetes, epilepsy, hip and elbow dysplasia, and more, you can get your pup help right away if they start having symptoms.
10. Leaving dangerous objects around
German shepherds are super curious and love to explore. Young dogs are especially prone to picking up things that shouldn’t be in their mouth. By putting away items that could potentially be dangerous, you can help protect your pup.
Some of these items include anything that takes batteries, medications, sugar free foods and gum, lotions, cooked bones, high fat foods, chocolate, raisins, grapes, alcohol, caffeine, and toxic plants.
11. Skipping flea and tick control
Dog owners often fear the safety of flea and tick control and have valid concerns. However, vector borne illnesses are also a big risk to pets. To keep your dog free from fleas, ticks, and other parasites, talk to your vet about flea and tick prevention.
12. Using the wrong leash and collar
Being able to control your dog is an important part of protecting them and yourself. Choosing the right collar and leash is important and makes walks more enjoyable. What might work well for one dog may not work well for another. For example, some dogs respond well to a harness while others will turn into a pulling machine.
13. Forgetting to check their ID
The nightmare of every pet owner is the thought of losing their dog. To help prevent this, you should check your dog’s ID monthly to ensure its readable and up-to-date. If you move, immediately update your dogs ID tags and microchip information. Before you travel, make sure your cell phone and an emergency contact is located on the tag. Having your vet scan the microchip, to ensure it hasn’t migrated to another part of their body, is also a good idea. If you travel with your dog, a pet tracker is also a great investment.
14. Leaving your dog in the car
While there are times it’s safe to leave your dog in the car for a few minutes, always be aware of the temperature and use caution not to forget your pet. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the temperature inside a car can increase by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, even if the car is parked in the shade. If you do take your dog, crack the windows and keep your dog in sight at all times.
15. Letting them get away with things
Dogs can do some amazingly cute things when left to their own devices. Especially smart dogs, like German shepherds. In fact, their antics can be hilarious. However, when letting your dog get away with unwanted behaviors, you’re reinforcing that the behavior is actually okay. By continuously training your dog and rewarding it for the behavior you want, you’ll go far to have a dog that respects its training for its entire life.