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Biggest Mistake You (or others) Make With a Dog?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
What do you think the biggest mistake you've made with a dog; or what's the biggest mistakes people (in general) make with a dog? Here's my list:

In general:

1. Not researching care of or the breed of dog before buying.
2. Buying a dog from a petshop.
3. Not doing early training for the puppy.
4. Getting a puppy during the holiday or "surprising" someone.
5. Feeding the dog before you eat.

For me personally:

As much as I love Keno (our lab), I really didn't know how much labs shed! DH had a lab/setter cross (longhair) and I really didn't like all the hair...figured a shorthair dog would be less shedding.

Next dog we get is gonna have some poodle or wire-hair terrier in it so there is less shedding!
post #2 of 36
I agree with your entire list of mistakes. I'll add that a lot of people don't understand basic training and even when people take their puppies/dogs to obedience training, they don't apply discipline consistently after the class is over. Also, people overuse treats to discipline their dogs. My sister always rewarded her dogs with treats and the only time they ever listened to her was when she had a treat in her hand. Not only were they unruly, they were extremely overweight.

I love your point about eating first before feeding your dog. I actually eat first, then feed the cats, then feed my dogs. My dogs have total respect not just for DH and I, but also all of the cats.
post #3 of 36
i am the 5th (and final) owner of dylan, our border collie. i firmly believe that this breed, along with many other working breeds, is not a pet. unless you are prepared to put in long hours on a daily basis regarding exercise and stimulation, you will end up with a highly frustrated, hyperactive hooligan.

dylan is far calmer since i rescued him 4 years ago. he was left for long hours, up to 12 sometimes, and then when the couple were home he was banished to the (small) garden.

i know this couple and i witnessed first hand the crazed behaviour dylan was exhibiting. he would run backwards and forwards, along the same track, for ages. he had worn a path in the garden where he was doing this so frequently. i was stunned at my friends inability to see that anything was wrong.

it culminated with dylan nearly dying after a broken cistern lid was left, propped up at the end of the garden, right where he would run. i swear to this day the husband left it there on purpose. my friend rang me in hysterics (they have no car) and i raced round there to find dylan pumping blood from a severed artery. the vet said if we'd been 20 minutes later dylan would have died. i took dylan home the next day and he has remained with me ever since.

there are many 'dylans' out there and i wish that people would, as you say, research the breed. really find out their requirements and make sure they can meet them.
post #4 of 36
Personally I don't think feeding your dog before you eat makes any difference. The dog doesn't understand what you are doing. The only thing it may do is if you normally feed the dog and immediately eat your own meal, then you ever decide to eat first your dog may want to know where his food is because dogs do catch on quickly to routines.
I feed my dogs whenever, I don't usually eat anytime around the same time as they do anyway.
post #5 of 36
I disagree with that #5 too. I've never seen where it makes any difference who eats first.

I have a couple to add to the list:

-Thinking the dog will magically understand English without training (like people who chase a dog around their yard hollering "come")

-Thinking a dog who messes in the house is getting 'revenge.' Most of the time this is directly due to a training error - someone punished the dog thinking they were so smart because they 'caught it in the act' and all they taught the dog to do was to be sneaky. Either that or they don't understand submissive urination and / or separation anxiety.

-Using a crate as a substitute for house training os as a convenient box to stuff the dog in when they don't feel like interacting with it.
post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 
Those of you who disagree with my #5 on feeding. This is the reason behind it and I've got that from a behavior dog book.

In a pack, the leaders get to eat FIRST. The lesser dogs will eat after the leaders eat. Feeding a dog before you (as the pack leader) tells the dog that he is in charge of the pack.
post #7 of 36
post #8 of 36
I HATE it when people get a small dog because they have kids....like they don't want a big dog jumping on the kids. Small dogs....oh my they are returned to the shelter most often for biting the kids than the big dogs. That one drives me nuts....get a 5 lb poodle for the toddler!!

I didn't do my research on what Macey was (Lab/GSP) before getting her. We had 3 years of but it's all worked out.

People who get "pit bulls" to look tough drive me insane!
post #9 of 36
Originally Posted by 2dogmom View Post

Yeah I'm with you there. Here is another good article on this subject:

Debunking the Dominance Myth
post #10 of 36
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
For me personally:

As much as I love Keno (our lab), I really didn't know how much labs shed! DH had a lab/setter cross (longhair) and I really didn't like all the hair...figured a shorthair dog would be less shedding.

Next dog we get is gonna have some poodle or wire-hair terrier in it so there is less shedding!
Don't be fooled into thinking those terriers and poodles don't shed! If you don't like long hair, or brushing, these ARE NOT for you...Improper and unthorough brushing and combing will leave these breeds solidly and painfully matted; so unless you're going to keep them in short patterns be prepared for just as much (or more, really) upkeep than your lab.

On a side note, most long hair double coated dogs blow coat twice a year (with tiny spurts inbetween, mostly due to stress), which is why when they shed it seems like there is tons; Labs, and other short haired double coated dogs on the other hand, shed year round, because the hair 'dies' quicker, because it is shorter. (the shorter the hair, the shorter the 'lifespan', thus, more shedding)

As far as the pack leader opinion, I will leave that to each owner; I personally let the dog's attitude and behavior decide for me whether I am more assertive; some dogs you don't have to be extremely assertive, but there are dogs that you can and should be more assertive, unless you want the dog chasing others away from everything that is "theirs". I have two completely opposites in my home; one who needs little assertion, and one that needs an assertive leader. When Sophie does something bad, it doesn't take anything more than a 'look' from me to tell her to stop...and she comes to me wagging her tail and sits, or lays down infront of me, leaving what she was doing behind.
Lizzy on the other hand, needs you to ask her to stop, and sometimes you have to take her away from the offending object, and you DO have to be careful if you have to take something away...she doesn't give things up easily, even if you offer her something else, and she will try to reclaim it if you don't put her in a different spot; she's the one who will snarl at the cats, snap at Sophie, and growl at people (including us) if she isn't getting her way. She isn't nearly as bad as she was when we got her, when she had NO assertiveness in her life, but she still has the tendencies, especially when hubby slacks in his training.

Okay, now for my actual response to your topic;

Sometimes I am tempted to discipline an offence that is already past; I think that is my 'biggest' offence...i don't usually carry through, but the dogs still can sense the attitude...oops!!!
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
I didn't say NO shedding - just less. I owned a cairn terrier - would love to own another but at the time we only had the dog and no cats in the house. I learned how to groom Boo and it was not time consuming to me.

I also know that part poodles may or may not shed - deal enough with the "labradoodle" bandwagon
post #12 of 36
not believeing the the HS on Bens breed ... they had it right ...
post #13 of 36
Well I have yet to have a dog But when I'm older I'm planning on getting me a little Andrex puppy G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S!

When that day finally comes I will remember this list!
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
What is an Andrex dog? Never heard of them.
post #15 of 36

Looks like what someone in the US might call a "Cottonelle" Dog. A terribly cute yellow Lab pup.
post #16 of 36
Oh lol sorry

Andrex puppy is the yellow labrador puppy from a toilet tissue advert. totally cute.
post #17 of 36
Thread Starter 
Yeah its a yellow lab puppy. We have a yellow lab. They say the yellows shed the most out of all the colors (black, chocolate, yellow). I think they are right!
post #18 of 36
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
Yeah its a yellow lab puppy. We have a yellow lab. They say the yellows shed the most out of all the colors (black, chocolate, yellow). I think they are right!
they all shed the same it is just that the typical yellows hair is just dark enough and light enough to be seen on nearly all colors
post #19 of 36
General mistakes:
The #1 biggest mistake I see is people overfeeding their dogs. A slim dog lives longer, is healthier, and is less prone to arthritis and hip problems. Excess food & treats = arthritis, diabetes, pancreatitis, etc., NOT love.

The second is people thinking dogs are motivated by human emotions. Dogs don't behave badly to be spiteful. A dog behaves submissively in response to its owner's behavior, not because it's feeling guilty. Understanding what motivates a dog is 90% of what it takes to train one - if you can figure out what your dog is thinking, you can usually head off bad behavior and steer it toward good behavior instead.

Personal mistakes:
#1) Assuming that most children are raised to know how to approach and handle a dog properly. Now I have a dog who's scared of children because she was attacked by kids who thought it was OK to scream at, hit, and kick strange dogs. I will never again allow children near a dog in my care unless I know that they know how to behave properly around dogs.

#2) Attending an obedience class without first observing the class in session. Though the class was advertised as 'positive', it turned out to be very much punishment based with lots of yelling and choke-chain yanking, and very badly run in general. Very stressfull for both of us, and a waste of time and money (never went back after the first class).

#3) Listening to a trainer who misread my dog's fear of children as 'dominance' and recommended Alpha-rolling her, which made her fear worse. Alpha rolling in general is a bad idea (I learned this later, unfortunately).

The last 3 can be condensed into one lesson - To be a true leader, I must protect my dog and be willing to stand up for its best interests, even at the risk of defying conventional authority (a trainer) or being embarrassed (getting scowls from parents who are offended I won't let their little darling torture my dog).

I know I've made and will continue to make many other mistakes. Having a dog, especially a very sensitive and intelligent shelter dog, is an experience of constant learning.

On the positive side, I've been inspired by those mistakes and my love for my dog to learn about dog behavior and positive training methods, and to encourage people I know to use positive training methods. I've also learned to grow a backbone.
post #20 of 36
I have 1 additional point on the eating before you feed your dog theory. It is one small aspect of a longer list of things that an alpha dog does to lead his/her pack. Doing it by itself doesn't produce the expected results.

That being said, using this tactic may not be obvious when you only have 1 or 2 dogs, but get beyond 3 or 4 and gaining alpha over the entire "pack" is essential for control. I lived with 5 dogs once and they became amazingly behaved once I started to use these techniques on them. The more dogs you have, the more likely they will form their own leadership system without you unless you exert yourself.
post #21 of 36
I think the biggest mistake people make with puppies is under socializing! Socialization is SO important!

People do not realize HOW MUCH socialization puppies actually need:

post #22 of 36
Originally Posted by Nekochan View Post
I think the biggest mistake people make with puppies is under socializing! Socialization is SO important!

People do not realize HOW MUCH socialization puppies actually need:

That's a really good point, and a good article.
post #23 of 36
I would say that my number one mistake would be not knowing enough about the breed. But to be fair to myself, both my dogs are mixes. Shadow is a black lab mix. I found out later that he has some sort of husky-type mix in there as well. So I have the best of both worlds...a dog that sheds constantly, AND blows coat twice a year! Oh, and he loved to jump fences and run away a lot as a youngster...

We got JD from puppy rescue (a group goes around and rescues puppies from around the state who are about to be euthanized.) We were told he was a lab mix. (and he did look it...) But he is a Border Collie (cross) through and through. At least I recognized it and worked with him on his herding behavior, but I probably wouldn't have CHOSEN that breed.
post #24 of 36
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
Yeah its a yellow lab puppy. We have a yellow lab. They say the yellows shed the most out of all the colors (black, chocolate, yellow). I think they are right!
Ahh well, at least they're cute!
post #25 of 36
For me, personally, the worst I did was that I applied the wrong training method (correction type) to my dog. He's sensitive, slightly skittish, and thinks too much, and using corrections, like yelling, snapping the leash, using intimidation, etc., was too much for him. Even little things would be too much for him. So it's no wonder he was a nut-head when he was, I think, 6 years old and was starting to nip at everyone and lose his temper of the drop of a hat. So I switched to positive-only and there was an immediately turnaround. Now, he nips very rarely (because of fear-based reactions, which was the deal before, too, but now he just gets nippy when you're leaning over him, tense, while readying yourself to clip his nails, which he already hates. He's sensitive, so he picks up on your body language SO EASILY!). He's now 10 years old and grumpiness is making an appearance again, all due to his age. No nipping at people, but sometimes his "trigger" goes off sooner than usual and he'll lunge at one of the cats, trying to get her to move so he can do something rather than just stare at her. He's also warty and bumpy and I don't think he likes it when I'm playing around with them. But yeah, we used fear-based training and intimidation in his early years and it messed him up. I remember our puppy obedience instructor advocated the scruff-shake, but in a more intense way. See, when the dog is getting into a bad mood or bad behaviour (and Jake was the bad kid of the class, always trying to walk around and meet the other pups, getting into trouble, growling and tugging the leash all through the lesson, etc. Not evil, just distracted and a normal puppy). So Jake was the guinea pig when the instructor demonstrated the reprimand. What she'd do is grab his scruff on both sides, lift him up so his eyes were level with yours, then shake him and yell at him ("No! Bad dog! I'm the boss!"). Jake was TERRIFIED and would snarl some more, showing his teeth, all with his little tail tucked tight between his legs. Is it any wonder that it took years before I got it into my head that him showing his lips if you even touched his collar wasn't normal (it was quickly solved and now he doesn't have a problem being touched around the neck). He's also afraid of heights and will completely freak out if you try to pick him up (including using his teeth; he got mom in the lip in that last year before I made a change to go positive-only, and early in his life, I remember he somehow gave me a goose-egg in the BACK of my head. I'm still not sure how he managed that). He's also supersensitive to yelling, and even if the yelling isn't aimed at him, he'll slink and find a small, dark place to curl up. Unless he sees the yeller looking at him, and he'll assume the yelling is about him and he'll slink and crawl up to the person, ears down, tail tucked, calming signals screaming out of his body. Yeah, that one lady and that one training method messed Jake up good, but I've worked on him and I'm satisfied with where he's at now. I can deal with not picking him up (55lbs isn't fun to pick up anyway, lol), so I work around it by training him to reach higher ground himself (he was fearful of the bathtub for a while, but now it's easy to get him to jump in there by himself rather than having someone heave him up and put him in there)

I'm not sure exactly where this lies, but I wish people who get dogs would actually make an effort to get to understand him. Figure out his likes and dislikes, and how he operates, and then apply it to his training. It makes things so much easier for you and the dog, rather than picking some random and easy method to training a certain trick. Part of the reason I couldn't get Jake to learn rollover until he was 6 (and he's a Border Collie-Australian Shepherd mix, so the brain is there) was because I was going about it the wrong way. I tried everything, from manually pushing him over (he hates that kind of thing, he'll even freeze and not move when you command him to sit and you've got your hand on his shoulder), and guiding his head with a treat and hoping gravity would roll him over. See, Jake's the kind of dog that learns through experience. He has to figure it out himself, and if you push him over, he doesn't associate that with the word "roll over." To him, you just pushed him over and then said "good boy." It confuses this old man. I did eventually teach him roll over, and it was all becaue of a fluke. We were out in the front yard with bits of cheese slices (he loves cheese) practicing random tricks. He was in a liedown at one point, and I told him to "roll over". I can't remember if he was at the point where he was getting frustrated (not understanding what rollover meant, so trying different tricks until he picked the right one), and eventually went into play-dead, or if he just did it. But anyway, he was in a lie down and went into the play-dead mode (laying sort of on his back with his forelegs lifted in the air). As it was, the whole fluke thing, he was laying on a sort of hill, so when he lifted his legs (and probably arched his back), gravity rolled him over. I started leaping up and down, squealing, and all but forcing cheese down his throat, and I saw the lightbulb go off in his head. He was grinning, and I could just see his head working. I brought him back to the exact same spot, commanded a rollover again, and he immediately went right into a roll over. I kept repeating it, giving him praise, a few times before I tried a different spot that was level, not a hill, and he rolled over perfectly each time. He's been flawless ever since. Nowadays, he'll only roll over on random days, due to his age. He has arthritic hips (which don't even affect him in day-to-day life, he doesn't even need glucosamine anymore), and he needs soft ground, and just general comfort. Otherwise, when he tries and feels hard ground, he'll get back up and won't attempt it. He's an old guy, so I just go with the flow and do something else. He's my first dog, so I've done a lot of experiments on him (including the corrections method of training for years), so he deserves some flexibility at this point.

Yeah, the training of sensitive dogs is one of my bigger issues, if you can't tell, lol. Most of those training methods out there just don't work on the more sensitive dogs and can just make things worse. But nearly any positive-only training method works with them, and that method is becoming more and more popular these days.
post #26 of 36
Aussie_Dog that was a great post. I hear you about the sensitive doggy things since I have one who was a rescue from a puppymill. You reminded me of one more "big mistake" that dog owners make:

- Assuming that there is a 'one-size fits all' solution to dog training.

Dogs have different temperaments and their human owners have different strengths and weaknesses. Put those two together and what happens is that what works for one dog/owner situation may be totally wrong for the other. The scruff-shake that freaked out Jake (there are still instructors doing that? might have been just the right thing to get the attention of a much less sensitive dog.

The thing to do is like Aussie_Dog said, figure out what makes your dog tick and then make use of that when training. Read everything you can, get different opinions, think about it and decide what works best for you and your dog.
post #27 of 36
I loved your post, Aussie Dog. My Border Collie cross acts the exact same way both with "harsher" training methods, and with trying to teach him a trick. (When I say harsher, I mean we can't even raise our voices to him. You would think he'd been abused or something, but we've had him all his life.)

I think I'll try your roll over trick with JD. He definitely doesn't like being pushed over, and that's how we trained the lab to do it!
post #28 of 36
That is a priceless story, Aussie Dog!

I'm pretty sure my mixed-breed dog has some Border Collie in her too, and she's very sensitive as well. She cringes at a raised voice too. I had assumed it was because of her unknown shelter-dog background, but I wonder how common that is as a natural trait in BC crosses?
post #29 of 36
Borders ARE a more sensitive dog, but alot of it has to do with the fact that they were bred to have such an intuitive nature (to be an ultimate shepard's dog); they had to be able to work a flock on their own, or a long way away from their shepard...that takes smarts. So when you take a dog with that kind of mental capacity, it makes for a sensitive fast learning dog.
post #30 of 36
I have a Vizlsa Lab mix. His name is Jake. He is NOT a dog. He is a human with fur (at least he thinks so )

The biggest mistake I made with Jake is human food.
I know, I know. Bad mommy! He is very food motivated and always has been. The papers from the SPCA even said it
Yes, he begs, but he waits patiently for anything you have to offer
But it does get annoying when he sits IN the chair at the dining room table

But with 2 kids in the house who constantly feed him, it's almost impossible to keep him from getting some kind of food.

I didn't seek out a Vizsla X. Matter of fact, I didn't even know what one was!
He's going to be 3 yrs old on Sept 28th and honestly, I couldn't ask for a better breed!

He's very loyal, listens well, and protective when he needs to be. He loves all the kitties, and will protect HIS cats if he thinks they're in harms way.
Same with my children.
Right now, he's asleep in the bed with Duke, and Blaze. I think Brandon might have 2 feet of room to sleep in a queen bed.

I never put him through obediance school or anything like that. For whatever reason, Jake and I just.... communicate.. I can't explain it but I have a closeness with him that I can't explain.
He goes to friends houses, my parents and to stores with me at night.

Sorry to ramble but, I love my Jake... I couldn't ask for a better human (dog)
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