10 Dog Owner Mistakes You Need To Know

Let’s review dog owner mistakes. I want to help you avoid these mistakes. I want you to have a happily ever after with your dog and not have a very sad one.

Remember even if you have made some of these mistakes don’t beat yourself too much. You can still take action to correct them.

how to avoid dog owner mistakes
disclaimer note

*Update: March 13, 2024

Budget Tip:

While it can seem like a good idea at times to cut corners and save money by doing things like not taking your dog to the vet or properly training him or her, it will always come back to hurt you and your dog. Remember having a dog is a lifelong commitment. So, it's always best to do what's best and find a way to budget for those things ahead of time, if at all possible.

Here are the top 10 mistakes new dog owners make:

1. Lack of homework 

Someone will pass a picture of a dog or puppy on Facebook or walk by a rescue dog at PetsMart, and their heart will melt at their big brown eyes. The next thing they know they have a new puppy and know nothing about it. They did not look at what type of dog will fit into their life (puppy vs. dog) or what will work with their family or their lifestyle. Basically, they’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool with weights on their feet. You can do it, but it takes a lot of work.

If this is you, do your homework now. Learn what your dog needs and what you need. Do your preparation now, even though you have your dog.

2. Not setting goals 

dog owner mistakes

By not setting goals and simply going for the cute dog, you don’t know what to expect of the dog or puppy or what to expect of yourself. Goals keep everyone focused on a single point. Such as getting a dog to become a therapy dog, or getting a dog to go running within the park.

If this is your dog owner’s mistake, don’t fret. You can still set your dog goals.

In this article, I talk about how to set dog goals. 

3. Not preparing 

Preparation is key to most things in life. This is also true when adding a dog to your family. You need to prepare by getting your home, family, and mind ready for a new dog. A dog will change your whole life as you will need to feed, water, exercise, play, train, groom, and care for it. You should have all the products and equipment you need prior to getting your dog, a minimum of bowls, beds, toys, crate, and a brush. And for puppies, you will also need pee pads, urine and odor remover, and marking spray. Of course, you may want to size a leash, collar, and harsh to your dog.

If this is you, you might be frustrated by your new addition. However, take a deep breath and realize your dog is now a family member and you can still prepare even if it’s a bit late.

In this article, I talk about how to prepare for your dog. 

4. Not budgeting 

When people just act on impulse and don’t realize the expense involved with dog ownership, it can often end sadly. Dogs are not an impulse. They are a lifetime commitment. 

However, if you fell for those sweet puppy dog eyes before you built your dog budget, you can still build a budget and work within it.

In this article, I talk about how to budget for your dog. 

5. Not visiting the veterinarian  

mistakes of pup owners

When you get your dog you should interview and select a vet within days. Actually, the interview process could be done prior to you finding your dog. Your new dog should see a qualified vet within a week of you getting him. This will help establish a baseline for his health, get his required vaccinations started, schedule her to be spayed (if it hasn’t already been done), and alert you to anything concerning.

Maybe this is you and you have yet to find a veterinarian or you simply don’t care for the one you found last minute. All is not lost if this is your dog owner’s mistake.

In this article, I talk about how to find a great vet both you and your dog will love. 

6. No training 

new pup owners top mistakes

A well-trained and well-behaved dog is a happy dog. This means the owner can trust the dog because the dog will behave in various situations. Training helps not only the dog but also the owner. It allows the owner to understand her new dog better and establish and better and stronger relationship. It also helps to address any behavior issues at the beginning.

If this is you, again don’t get stressed out. There are many good and qualified dog trainers available. Many are very reasonably priced. In fact, I took my dog to some classes at my local PetsMart and was very satisfied with the instructor and courses. Plus, they offer discounts about once a month or so.

7. No consistency or routines 

Dogs thrive with consistency and routines. While routines aid with establishing good behaviors. It can be applied to all aspects of your dog’s day from eating, walking, play, and training. On the other paw, consistency is vital for enforcing good behaviors and training. Without consistency, the dog quickly becomes confused and training is more difficult.

For instance, in a family, a wife might be consistent with telling the new dog, to sit while the doorbell rings. However, the husband and kids may let the dog jump and bounce when the doorbell rings. This sends confusing messages and the dog will not do as well.

If this is you, it’s never too late to begin a consistent and routine program with your dog. Training classes will also reinforce this concept.

8. Not socializing 

I highly encourage socializing dogs. They are pack animals and thrive when they’re socialized with other dogs and humans. If you have an aggressive dog, please get training first. Those that do not socialize their dogs can end up with shy, timid, bored, or aggressive dogs. 

If this is you, don’t stress. Even if your dog has become aggressive. There are many certified dog behaviorists ready to help. 

Even if you have a limited time schedule you can still socialize your dog. Doggie daycare is a good option for helping with dog socialization.

In this article, I talk about how to find a great doggie daycare. 

9. Not recognizing dog cues 

pup owner mistakes

This is a BIG one! You get a new dog and start roughhousing with it. However, the dog is still trying to get used to his whole world-changing. He needs time to adjust and get used to his new environment. Watch your dog’s eyes, ears, tail, fur, and overall stance. Always let the dog come to you and leave when he’s done.

When you force a dog to do something when he’s scared, bad things can happen. Watch for his cues. He will tell you how he’s feeling. Training classes will also help you with recognizing these cues. Those that do not pick up on dog cues can experience awful things and the dog can be recycled back through the system or labeled as troubled, which is a shame.

If you feel this is your dog owner’s mistake, and you simply don’t know your dog or what he might do, then it’s really time to start training or find a great dog behaviorist.

10. Not asking for help 

This is very big as well. Often people will ignore little behavior issues until they become big issues without ever asking anyone for help. Once the little issues become a big issue and the dog is surrendered.

Asking for help can entail taking classes, going to a pet store and asking for help, or even calling a trainer and asking a few questions. When I was looking for my dog, I wasn’t sure if one dog I was looking at would fit my therapy criteria. I ended up calling a therapy trainer. She graciously answered all my questions. You will never know unless you ask. It takes a humble person to ask for help.

It’s generally never too late to ask for help. I always encourage it.

top mistakes of pup owners

Summary of mistakes new dog owners make

Yes, it’s exciting to be a new dog owner. The article looks at the most common mistakes that new dog owners make. This article is given as a guide to what you should avoid as you become a new dog owner. Some mistakes a new dog owner can make include lack of homework, not setting goals, not preparing, not budgeting, no vet visits, lack of training, not being consistent and routine, lack of socialization, ignorance of dog cues, and not asking for help. While this article hits the main mistakes, it is not exclusive.

are you making these dog owner mistakes

Have you made any of these mistakes? Have you seen your family or friends make other mistakes not listed?

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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