As a dog owner, you know the basics: Give your four-legged best friend plenty of food and exercise, walk them, and never allow them to indulge in chocolate (in accordance with the universally deadly allergy). But is that really enough?

It’s easy to slip into bad habits with your dog, and in all likelihood you’re probably doing at least one of these 20 no-nos without even thinking about it. But these simple acts could have lasting impacts on the health and happiness of your dog. Read on to see if you’re at all guilty of these faux-paws.

1. Leaving your dog outside: Dogs love the outdoors, but being there 24/7 isn’t comfortable for them. Having your dog tied up and exposed to the elements is irresponsible and inhumane.

 

2. Lack of dental care: It’s easy to forget about caring for your dog’s teeth, after all it’s not like there are doggy dentist offices. However, there are benefits to brushing their teeth and having them checked by the vet. It prevents gum disease, much like with humans!

TripswithPets/Youtube

 
 

3. Feed them table food: Dogs have dog food for a reason. Although you may feel bad scarfing down a steak while your pal is stuck with kibble, it’s in their best interest. Maintaining a healthy weight will help your dog live longer.

FreshPet

 

4. Being too lenient: It can be difficult to set boundaries with your pup when they look up at you with those eyes (you know the ones), but it’s worth it in the long run. Dogs like structure and rules, which will curb their destructive tendencies.

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5. Not Spaying or Neutering: This simple procedure allows your animal to enjoy a longer and happier life. It also tends to reduce aggression or unwanted behavior and eliminates the possibility of a surprise litter of puppies. The only downside is the cone of shame.

Kaitlyn Cotter

 

6. Forget to groom them: Different dogs require different levels of maintenance, but neglecting it entirely isn’t a good idea for you or your dog. Cleaning makes them smell amazing and can help prevent massive shedding.

 
 

7. Skipping the vet: Even if your dog isn’t showing any symptoms, it is important to get her regular check ups for vaccinations and preventative care. Visiting the vet can prevent illness before it even happens.

 

8. Leaving the leash on: If you are with your pup in an off-leash area, don’t keep her leash on. If you feel uncomfortable without the leash, steer clear. Having a dog on leash could provoke other dogs or cause yours to become defensive.

The Healing Pack

 
 

9. Feed them cheap food: It’s true that dog food can be somewhat expensive, but it’s worth springing for the good stuff. Check the label on your dog food to make sure there are no additives or unsavory by-products.

 

10. Leaving your dog in the car: Under no circumstances should you leave your dog alone in the car. Extreme heat and cold can be very dangerous for your dog, and without proper ventilation, the elements can be lethal.

 
 

11. Not teaching manners: Whether they’re at the dog park or walking on a leash, it’s important you never allow your dog to charge, mount, or repeatedly sniff another dog. Impolite introductions could lead to aggression from another dog.

Ildar Sagdejev

 

12. Size matters: If you take your dog to a dog park, it’s crucial you consider their size. If you have a small dog, avoid allowing HIM to play with large dogs and vice versa. Taking this precaution could prevent possible harm to your pup.

funnyplox/Youtube

 
 

13. No exercise before the park: Of course dog parks are meant for exercise, but you don’t want them to be overly hyper when they arrive. Exercising them a bit before could stop their excited energy from having the whole park descend into chaos.

 

14. Not cleaning up: If you’re a dog owner who doesn’t pick up after your dog does their business, it’s time you start. Leaving waste behind is rude and unsanitary. Leaving behind poo could expose other dogs to diseases and parasites.

 
 

15. Picking up your dog: If there is some type of confrontation, it can be tempting to pick up your small dog to remove him form the situation. However, this could illicit a chase response from the offending pooch, causing him to pursue further.

 

16. Allowing Bullying: You must never allow your dog to nip at, jump on, or repeatedly bark or growl at other dogs. This behavior is unacceptable and is the easiest way to become the least popular pooch at the park.

 
 

17. Too Young: If your puppy is less than 12 weeks old, it’s not a great idea to bring him to a dog park. Pups this age are highly vulnerable to diseases due to their lack of complete immunizations.

 

18. Not paying enough attention: Keeping an eye on your dog is extremely important, especially when out in public. Issues can arise in seconds, and if you aren’t focused on your dog, you could miss something that could cause harm.

 
 

19. Hitting your dog: Unfortunately, this is a commonly used discipline tactic among dog owners. It’s been proven that dogs respond poorly to physical harm and this can cause them to fear you. An anxious and fearful dog is more likely to lash out.

Mark Croucher

 

20. Neglect the water bowl: Ensuring your dog is properly hydrated is integral to their health and happiness. Pay extra attention to their water levels after exercise or during a particularly hot day. Now, what if you check all 20 of these training boxes?

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