1. Failing to train your dog to accept handling — Snuggle sessions are a great opportunity to get your new puppy or adult dog comfortable with having all the areas of her body handled, because soon enough she’ll need to visit the veterinarian and/or the groomer. She’ll need to have her teeth brushed every day and her nails trimmed on a regular basis.
The best way to prepare your pup to be handled throughout her life is to begin getting her used to having sensitive areas of her body handled as soon as you bring her home. This will not only acclimate her to human handling but will also help you familiarize yourself with how her body feels so you can quickly identify any abnormalities that may occur, like a lump or bump on or under her skin.
2. Providing inadequate socialization opportunities — Socialization means exposing your dog (preferably starting at 3 weeks of age) to as many new people, animals, environments and other safe, positive stimuli as possible without overwhelming him. Socialization should engage all of your dog’s senses though exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of daily life, and should be ongoing throughout his life.
Safe, consistent and ongoing exposure to environmental variety will help him develop a comfort level with new and different situations, with the result that he’ll learn to handle new experiences and challenges with acceptable, appropriate behavior. Dogs who have not been adequately socialized often develop entrenched fear responses and generalized anxiety, resulting in behavior problems that can make them difficult as family pets. This is a direct result of humans failing puppies.
3. Having a negative view of dog crates — For some reason, many dog guardians think crates are for “bad dogs” or should only be used in certain situations. If you’re one of them, here’s what you’re missing: your dog is by nature a den dweller, and a crate affords you the opportunity to work with her natural desire to seek out small, dark, safe spots to rest.
This can be a huge win for you, as well as her, if you need to housetrain her, not to mention for car or plane travel, or overnight stays with friends, family, or at a pet-friendly hotel. If you’re still not convinced, talk to some dog loving friends who’ve crate-trained their pets. Chances are they’ll tell you their dog seeks out her crate on her own for naps, at bedtime, and whenever she just wants a little me time.
4. Choosing the wrong type of collar, harness, or leash — Many pet parents don’t realize the importance of choosing the right type of collar, harness, and leash for their dog. Certain dogs, for example, should wear a harness and should never be leashed or even handled by the collar. These include dogs that pull or lunge while on a leash, dogs prone to tracheal collapse, dogs with a seizure disorder, and pets with chiropractic issues involving the neck and/or back. I prefer brachycephalic breeds wear harnesses, as well.
Choke collars and other outdated training devices should be replaced with safer alternatives. For walks, training sessions, and whenever your dog will be on leash, I recommend either a head collar or no-pull harness. And I’m not a fan of retractable leashes due to their potential to injure both dogs and their owners. I recommend leashes no longer than six feet.
5. Failing to provide fear-free behavior training — Behavior problems are the number one reason dogs are relinquished to animal shelters, the number one reason they don’t find new forever homes, and as a result, the number one reason they are euthanized.
A puppy should begin formal obedience training at eight weeks, and if you adopt an adult dog who has received no obedience training, you should enroll him in a class right away. Stay in class until you’re proud of his behavior. It’s also good idea to take him through a refresher obedience course every few years, or when you need help with the inevitable behavioral hiccup that crops up as he ages. If you want an emotionally balanced, well-mannered dog, the way to achieve this is with positive reinforcement behavior training, not punishment-based training, which is less effective and potentially inhumane. Fear-free training is based on the theory that rewarding your dog for desired behavior will encourage more of that behavior.
6. Punishing your dog for potty mistakes — When mistakes happen, there can be no shouting, absolutely no physical contact and never, ever rub your dog’s nose in her mess. For many people, this can be the most difficult rule to follow, but I can’t stress enough how important it is.
In order to successfully housetrain your pup, you have to avoid punishing any type of mistake. And mistakes are going to happen. Your job is to avoid giving her a chance to fail, but when she does, recognize that your response sets the stage for everything that happens after. It’s important that every situation pertaining to housetraining is very positive. In short, you can’t punish or frighten your dog into appropriate behavior. By the time she’s squatting on your floor, your opportunity for a successful potty break outside has passed. Insuring you’re doing your part in helping your dog succeed is the most important aspect of housetraining.
7. Overlooking the importance of playtime — If you’re like many busy pet parents today, you’re multitasking when you’re interacting with your dog. For example, you play tug-of-war with one hand while talking on the phone or checking Facebook with the other.
Or maybe you take your dog for a walk but pull him along because you’re in a hurry, or you’re distracted by a cell phone call, or the weather isn’t ideal. He doesn’t get much chance to stop and sniff, which is as important and interesting to your dog as your phone call is to you.
The next time you engage in a play session with your dog, try staying present with just that one activity. Focus exclusively on him and your interaction with him. Even if you’re not really feeling it at that moment, get animated. If you throw a toy and he brings it back to you, praise him enthusiastically each time he returns it.
When you take him for a walk, view the activity from his perspective. Focus on making activities enjoyable for him. Even better, enroll in a nose work class that stimulates your dog’s natural ability to use her brain, body and nose simultaneously. Create a digging den in a corner of your yard.
8. Failing to appreciate your dog’s natural athleticism — In order to stay lean, fit, well-conditioned, emotionally balanced, and fully mobile as she ages, your dog needs a good workout every day. Canines are designed by nature for movement.
If your dog doesn’t get opportunities to run, play and get regular aerobic exercise, even if she’s not overweight, she can end up with arthritis and other debilitating conditions that affect the bones, joints, muscles and internal organs. In addition, many canine behavior problems are the result of a lack of physical and mental activity. What many people don’t realize is that like their owners, dogs need encouragement to get physically active. Even the biggest, greenest backyard isn’t by itself enough to motivate your pet to get the exercise she requires to stay in good physical condition.
The only way to make sure your dog gets enough exercise is to provide her with the companionship and incentive she needs to stay active. She should be getting a minimum of 20 minutes of sustained heart-thumping exercise daily, but an hour is more appropriate and confers greater health benefits.
9. Neglecting your dog’s teeth and/or nails — Two hygiene items every pet parent should but often doesn’t attend to are their dog’s teeth and nails. You should brush your dog’s teeth if not every day, at least several times a week. Otherwise, like most dogs over the age of three, he’ll have gum disease, and as time passes the situation will worsen until his mouth smells bad and feels worse. Then you’ll be faced with a big veterinary bill and he may even lose a few teeth.
Your dog’s nails also need to be clipped regularly. How often depends on how fast they grow and how much time he spends on surfaces that grind them down naturally. If you can’t bear to clip your dog’s nails yourself, I encourage you to make a standing appointment with a groomer or veterinarian who will do it for you. You’d be amazed at how often dogs develop serious paw problems from nails that have grown too long.
10. Not scheduling wellness checkups — If you wait until your pet is already sick to seek veterinary care, in most cases you’ve waited too long; you’re being reactive. As a proactive pet owner, I want to create wellness protocols when pets are healthy to keep their bodies in a state of balanced vitality throughout life. This means making sure organ systems stay in tip top shape by having wellness visits (not sick animal visits).
The truth is that if you aren’t intentionally creating health for your dog through smart lifestyle choices, then you are passively allowing health to slip away. Maintaining wellness is an active process; we must work at it or it won’t sustain itself. A thorough wellness checkup will address your pet’s breed/genetic predispositions, activity level and exercise regimen, environmental stress and mental well-being, chemical load, diet and other factors to formulate wellness plans for each stage of her life.
in the Moab Area
Corona Arch - Easy/Moderate. 1.3 Miles one way. Trailhead is 25 minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).
Mill Creek Pathway - Easy. 1.1 Miles. Little to no driving. Starts at the intersection of 100 South and 100 West,
a block off of Main Street.
Portal Overlook - Hard. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 20 minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).
Grandstaff Canyon - Moderate. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 10-minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to the River Road (Utah 128)