MISTAKE #8: USING THE WRONG RESTRAINT
The natural tendency of dogs is to pull. If you use a collar, the probability is high your puppy will sustain a neck injury or thyroid gland trauma. Plus, such injuries are often missed and untreated.
To keep your puppy safe, use a front-clip harness. Even if your puppy doesn’t usually pull on the leash, there are times when she’ll pull because she sees a friend, another dog or wants to sniff or chase a squirrel.
I recommend never attaching a leash to your puppy’s collar and never use choke, prong or shock collars on your dog to avoid serious medical problems.
MISTAKE #9: USING A RETRACTABLE LEASH
Many people love retractable leashes because they give their dog more freedom to move. However, this comes with a hefty price. In order for a dog to move, it has to pull on the spring-loaded leash, which creates pressure on the neck, shoulders and torso, so wearing a harness with a non-retractable, shock-absorbing leash is the best.
But that’s not all. When a dog gets to the end of the retractable leash or when the leash brake is applied, it creates an extra strong jerk that can cause even more serious damage to the thyroid gland, blood vessels and nerves. One of the most common problems related to such injuries is paw licking. Dogs lick their paws because the nerves coming from the neck to the feet are pinched or injured, which causes abnormal sensation and then licking.
MISTAKE #10: LACK OF BOUNDARIES AND SOCIALIZATION
I kept this topic for last because if you ensure clear and loving boundaries, living with a dog can be the most rewarding life experience.
Obedience is a sensitive topic, but here are a few pointers that make a big difference:
- Socialize your puppy with other dogs as soon as the titer test comes back confirming antibodies (immunity) against distemper and parvovirus.
- Don’t take your puppy to a busy dog park until she’s more mature to avoid getting traumatized by rowdy dogs.
- Teach your dog how to stay put in an emergency in street traffic where you need to maintain control.
- Never scold your dog if they do something wrong, especially when they come back to you. This may create fear and hesitation next time.
- Don’t let your dog beg or give her food when you’re eating at the table. As soon as you reward your dog for begging, the habit is hard to shake and your dog will be unhappy and confused. It can also be difficult if you have visitors for dinner. I see strict table manners as an act of kindness and love, not the opposite. Dogs also love clear boundaries.
- If you call your dog and she doesn’t come, use the cue “wait” and go and pick up your puppy. Repeated calls will make recall inefficient and put your dog in danger. Personally, I recommend using healthy treats to reward your puppy for good behavior.