Family & Pets

5 everyday habits of great dog owners

5 everyday habits of great dog owners

These everyday habits of great dog owners are something to aspire to. How many do you do?

1. You pick up more than just poop

Picking up your dog’s poop is Good Doggie Care 101 but truly great pet owners will be mindful of any mess their animal makes and clean up after them, says Ruth MacPete, veterinarian and author of Lisette the Vet. This means not only cleaning up poop piles from the neighbour’s lawn but wiping up pee, drool or other liquids in public places; picking up the pieces when your dog shreds a toy; and making amends if your pup chews someone’s shoe, pees on a rug or otherwise makes a mess.

2. You do a daily "snout-to-tail" check

Great pet owners care deeply about their dog’s wellbeing and spend a few minutes each day giving them a once-over, says Neil Cohen, dog behaviour expert, owner and head trainer at Sit Means Sit. “By touching your dog, from snout to tail (and everywhere in between) you not only teach a dog to accept your touch, should they need it in an emergency, but you also familiarise yourself with their body, enabling you to quickly notice anything that wasn’t there yesterday – like a tick, cut, tumour, etc.,” he explains.

3. You are consistent with the rules
Great pet owners know that forbidding their dog to eat off the counter one day and then allowing it the next isn’t being kind, it’s just confusing. Dogs thrive with rules, Cohen says. “Maintain regular boundaries, for example, no counter surfing, no nose on the table, no jumping on people,” he says. “Boundaries establish leadership/authority and make your dog more comfortable in your pack.”

4. You encourage your dog's natural instincts in a healthy way

All dogs are born needing to bite, chew and chase but all too often those instincts get them in trouble in the human world. Great dog owners understand this and give the dog safe ways to express their nature, Benson says. “Give your dogs food puzzles or other games and toys that allow them to practice natural canine behaviours like chewing and ‘hunting’ for their food,” she says.

5. You correct your dog with kindness

When your dog acts up, you need to bring them back in line. But great dog owners know the difference between correction and punishment, says Kristi Benson, a certified canine therapy trainer and behaviour expert. They use their voice to reassure, comfort and correct their dog – not scare them, she says. “Good owners will not use yelling, swatting, training collars or other physical punishments as they know they are bad for the dog’s welfare,” she explains. “Modern dog training techniques can help you teach your dog to obey without using harsh punishments.”

Written by Charlotte Hilton Andersen. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.