The Top 10 Pet-Owner Mistakes
Avoid common errors, and keep your four-legged pal healthy and well-behaved.
Mistake 1: Buying a Pet Spontaneously
Why this is a mistake: That doggie in the window may be darling, but he might not be the right fit for your family or lifestyle.
How to avoid it: Fully inform yourself before you bring home a pet. Every dog or cat has its own needs, some of which are specific to the breed. Terriers tend to dig; Abyssinians explore and climb. If there’s a breed that interests you, read up on it (try the website of the American Kennel Club, at akc.org, or the Cat Fanciers Association, at cfainc.org), talk to owners, and get to know someone else’s Border collie or Persian. That said, not every dog or cat is typical of its breed, so “ask about the pet’s history, health, and temperament,” says Stephanie Shain, a director at the Humane Society of the United States. When dealing with a breeder, you should be shown where the pet was raised and meet his parents.
Mistake 2: Skipping Obedience Training
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 ($13, amazon.com). To help a dog stick with good behaviors, every few years take him for a refresher course. (Find one in your area at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, apdt.com.)
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So maybe you can’t change your health overnight. But you can get a head start.