We have all come home to a trash can’s contents strewn all over the house, or found our favorite pair of shoes mercilessly executed by our furry family members. It is difficult to keep cool when things like this happen. It is even more difficult to recognize that we are to blame!
The 4th worst mistake new dog owners make is setting their new pups up for failure. If the trash can is left out in an area where all its smelly glory is beckoning for our dog to investigate, how can we expect that our pup doesn’t comply? Sometimes, as dog owners, we forget that our pups are not capable mind readers. We expect that because we know that it is wrong to chew up a favorite pair of boots, that are dogs should be aware of this as well. Needless to say, that is not the case.
We have a ritual in my house whenever the dogs are going to be left alone for any period of time. We call it “dog proofing” –more specifically, Boo proofing– the house. The process consists of a number of walkthroughs in each room . We are looking at the house through a dogs eyes, asking ourselves the question “what could I possibly get into if I was a dog”, This usually results in some outside of the box cleaning that we normally would not have thought to do.
This particular mistake manifests itself in other areas of our dog’s lives as well. Another good example is putting a dog in a situation where it is almost guaranteed to act out. The situation that comes to mind for me, because I have seen it way too many times, is when people bring dogs that are not ok being around other dogs to public places like petsmart. These poor dogs are a split second of their owner not paying attention away from going psycho on the next dog that comes close to them. It’s gut wrenching to watch this scenario play out, knowing full well, that the dog owner is setting their dog up for an epic failure!
To avoid making this mistake always be in the mindset of how to set your dog up for success. Remove or hide things that they may be able to destroy while you are gone. Pick up your shoes and put them in a closet, shut the bathroom door(protect the TP!) , etc. If you know your dog needs to work on a specific issue, address the problem in baby steps, so that you both can celebrate the small victories on your way to success!
Most importantly, because we are all human and imperfect beings, when we do make a mistake and our dog does something that it shouldn’t have. Make sure that we take responsibilty for our role in the situation. It’s easy to take out our anger and frustration on the pup, but I’m willing to bet that, had we set the dog up for success, we probably could have avoided the problem all together!