Top Ten Pet Care “Don’ts”

By on January 16, 2014

Here at PetsInOmaha, we’ve brought you many informational articles and pieces of advice when it comes to caring for your animals. We’ll routinely advise you to do “this” and “that,” but we don’t recall telling you what “not to do” very often.

That said; we stumbled upon another Top Ten list recently. These lists are almost ubiquitous and cliched at this point, but this one is actually very useful for pet owners everywhere. If you’d like to see the entire article and list full of details, click here and visit’s Web site. Their Top 10 Pet Care Mistakes list is great and we’ve highlighted their advice below in short.

1. Don’t buy a pet on a whim. Many of us have pets and many more of us want them if we don’t already have one. Some of us even have pets, then get an urge to go out and snatch up another one because we love them so much! Global Animal warns against spontaneity like this. Many times, people think they are ready for a pet, buy or adopt one, then get it home and say, “Wait…this is not going to be as easy as I thought.” Don’t be that person. Make sure you are ready for a pet before you make that commitment.

2. Don’t skip obedience training.

From Why this is a mistake: Bad habits can be difficult to train out of a pet. So unless you have the know-how to school an animal, you need the help of a pro.

How to avoid it: Even before a puppy starts formal training, teach him simple commands, such as sit and stay. A puppy can begin formal training at eight weeks (and ideally before 12 weeks), after he has had his shots.

“Between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, puppies readily absorb information about the world around them,” says Andrea Arden, author of Dog-Friendly Training. To help a dog stick with good behaviors, every few years take him for a refresher course.

3. Don’t be inconsistent with rules for your pet. We suppose this is much like child rearing in that rules are needed to keep order and maintain control over good and bad behaviors. Set some ground rules and stick to them. Your young puppy or kitty will learn what’s acceptable and what’s not after you’ve been consistent with rules.

4. Don’t give out too many free treats. Like kids, young pets love little treats. With animals, however, it is especially important to give treats out as a reward for god behavior. If you are to give your pet treats here and there and everywhere, it will not know and understand that the treat is being given as a reward. Good behavior, give a treat. Don’t simply hand them out like they are meaningless.

5. Don’t neglect socialization of your animals.

From the article:

Why this is a mistake: Pets that aren’t exposed to a variety of animals and people at a very young age can develop fears and aggressive behavior.

How to avoid it: Introduce your pet to adults, kids, animals, and environments so he’ll take every novelty in stride. It’s optimal for a pet to start the process before you bring him home, since the critical socialization period is early in life.

“For a dog, it’s between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks. For cats, it’s between 2 and 8 weeks,” says Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, in North Grafton, Massachusetts. The breeder or the shelter’s adoption counselor can tell you how much socialization an animal has had.

6. Don’t forget to exercise. This seems like an obvious “don’t,” but some fail to realize the importance of it. Walking your dog, using toys to keep your kitty active, and letting your other little critters run around a bit is very important through every phase of their lives. Just like in humans, animals need exercise everyday in order to stay healthy, stay at a desirable weight, and release tension and energy that could lead to negative behaviors if it isn’t exhausted.

7. Don’t let your pet’s brain sit idle. That is; don’t let them become mentally inactive.


Why this is a mistake: Bored pets are more likely to get into trouble.

How to avoid it: Give your pets something to do. For a dog, that can mean having him hunt for food. Place a meal or treats in spots around the house for him to sniff out, or “feed him out of a food-dispensing puzzle toy instead of his bowl,” says Andrea Arden.

Keep a cat engaged with simple amusements, like a toy mouse dangling from a string. “You can stimulate your cat visually by placing a bird feeder outside a window, or setting a lava lamp on a shelf,” says Arden Moore, author of The Cat Behavior Answer Book.

8. Don’t leave pets alone for too long. Separation anxiety is common in young animals, especially puppies. If you are to leave your dog alone for too long, you are asking for an “accident,” for one. Secondly, too much alone time creates anxiety and produces some unacceptable behavior at times. The article suggests that you find a pet sitter or friend that can help you entertain your animal if you are to be away for too long. Crate training is also important for puppies. Self pacification is a learned skill, so train your pup how to be cool by itself from a young age.

9. Don’t live in a space that isn’t pet friendly. The article mainly talks of places for pets to sleep and “relieve themselves.” Make sure your cat has a litter box. Make sure to scoop your yard often as dogs like to “go” in the same places more often than not. The same goes for places to curl up. If your dog doesn’t have a spot to curl up like a crate or dog bed, you’ll probably find Fido on the couch or in your bed. Create a home that your animals will love and your relationship will be the best it can be.

10. Use caution when punishing pets. Now, we aren’t professional trainers here at Pets In Omaha, so we’ll leave this one up to Global Animal:

Why this is a mistake: You might think Chewie knows you’re screaming at him because he ate the loaf of bread on the counter, but he won’t connect your behavior with his action.

How to avoid it: Never physically punish your pet; he’ll just learn to fear you. It’s OK to startle a pet out of a behavior, but only if you catch him in the act. Command him with a firm “No!” or “Down!” and he’ll connect the reaction with what he’s doing and learn that it’s not OK.

Otherwise, the punishment should come from the environment. Teach a cat or a dog to stay off the counter, say, by arranging sheet pans in a pile that will clatter to the floor if he jumps up. The counter, not you, will become the thing to fear.

As we said before, there is much advice to heed here at Pets In Omaha, and the above list is just a bit more information that will help you become a more successful pet owner. Your animals will appreciate many of the steps you take to create a loving and compassionate environment, too.

Have any other “dos” or “dont’s” that you live by? Comment below, tweet us @PetsInOmaha, or comment on our Facebook page. Raising a pet isn’t easy, so make sure to continue to grow with your animal by reading our advice and more that comes from experts around the Web.


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