Deciding to give a dog a forever home is one of the most fulfilling decisions you can make. The relationship between a dog and their owner is like nothing else, dogs bring so much love and joy into our lives. While it may seem like all fun and games, caring for a dog is a huge responsibility. Whether you’re adopting a senior dog or a puppy, their safety, health and happiness relies on you. Continue reading to learn the 5 common dog owner mistakes, and how to avoid them.

Mistakes are bound to happen, so when they do, be kind to yourself. All parents, pet and human alike, make mistakes and nobody is perfect. Here’s how to avoid the most common dog owner mistakes:

1. Not Socializing Your Dog Enough

Early socialization is key to a dog’s development. Dog who are well socialized are less anxious and fearful of new people and situations. If not tended to, that fear and anxiety can manifest itself in aggressive behavior.

You’ll want to introduce your dog to as many sights, sounds, places, and things during the first few months. NYC is full of new things to see and experience every day, so make it an adventure for your dog. Make all of their experiences with new things a positive one, and continue to reinforce this throughout their life. Of. course, make sure that your dog has the proper vaccinations before socializing them.

2. Skipping Basic Obedience Training

Having fun is important, but having a well-mannered dog is even more important. You want to be able to take your dog anywhere with you without having to worry about them jumping up at people or barking at dogs on the street.

Whether you are training your dog yourself, or having private lessons with a trainer, teaching basic commands like sit, stay, come are a must. Leash training is also important. Create routines for your dog and reward them for obeying commands. Reinforce this behavior and in time your dog will obey your command without the use of a reward, such as treats.

3. Overfeeding

When it comes to feeding your dog, knowing what kind of food and how much to give them is the key to keeping them healthy. You may think feeding them table scrap and extra treats is no big deal, but pet obesity is an ongoing epidemic affecting 56% of dogs in the US.

Obesity can lead to a number of health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease. As they grow older obesity exacerbate health issues like arthritis and joint pain. Learn more about pet obesity and how you can help here.

Feeding your dog a healthy, balanced meal based on their size, age, and breed is the best thing you can do to combat obesity. If you are unsure, consult with your veterinarian to find the right meal plan that is best for your dog.

4. Lack Of Exercise

Something else that contributes to pet obesity is lack of exercise. But that’s not all, not giving your dog enough exercise can show itself in destructive behavior like excessive barking and chewing. Dogs are active creatures by nature and require daily physical and mental stimulation. Some dogs require more exercise than others based on size and breed, but in general, 30 minutes of exercise per day is the minimum amount your dog should be getting.

5. Overlooking Behavioral Issues

As dog parents, our little angels could do no wrong, but it’s important to recognize when your is displaying behavioral issues and address them before it escalates to a serious situation. Separation anxiety is a common issue among dog and can lead to barking, chewing, and accidents in the house. Lack of exercise can also cause behavioral issues as we read above. Aggressive behavior such as growling and biting are also behavioral issues that dogs display.

If your dog is displaying any of these behaviors, figure what is causing it. It could be a change in environment or an underlying health issue. If you’re not sure what is causing your dog’s behavior, reach out to a professional trainer who can address these issues.