As pet parents we often find ourselves unknowingly making mistakes that harm our pets in more ways than one. But, as always, these mistakes are often borne of love and can always be corrected!
Read along to know why and what mistakes to avoid as pet parents!
1. Forcing your pet to 'make friends'
How often do you find yourself making your pet meet another pet with the intention of them becoming 'friends'. Both dogs and cats have different ways of making friends with their own kind and rarely require human intervention. In fact, when we as pet parents interfere with their natural process of making friends, it does more harm than good. For example, forcing two male dogs or cats of the same age to become friends doesn't always work as in this case, dominance takes over friendship. Similarly, some dogs/cats have personalities that are aloof and often prefer the company of their family over new animals. Hence, it is imperative that you don't force your pet to make friends, instead you can allow them to choose who they'd like to meet in a neutral environment such as a park or beach.
2. Feeding your dog with your hand
Whilst one might argue that hand-feeding strengthens the bond between pet and parent, it can sometimes do more harm than good. When a dog/cat gets used to being fed, they begin to only want hand-feeding for every meal time, and this proves to be a problem when the primary caregiver is sick or out on vacation. The pet then refuses to eat from the bowl or from another family member's hand and begin to develop what experts call 'separation anxiety' - a condition where the dog is so attached to one person, where he/she cannot function normally in that person's absence. This, in turn, negatively affects the pet's mental health in the long run.
3. Not respecting their personal space
Like humans, pets have their personal space and because of how loving and adorable they are, we often tend to forget that! Respecting your pet's personal space refers to, but isn't limited to, avoidance of excessive cuddling, non-indulgence in activities that make them uncomfortable like posing for the camera, or disturbing them when their napping. As hard as it is to keep our hands off our pets, it's imperative that we don't invade their personal space too often.
4. Using negative reinforcement to correct behaviour
Research has shown that negative reinforcement to correct behaviour has little success in comparison to positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement refers to physical and mental harm inflicted upon the pet as a 'punishment' or as a means to correct poor behaviour. This type of behaviour training often damages the relationship that the pet has with the parent, simply because the pet now views the parent as someone who inflicts mental and physical harm for poor behaviour.
5. Not setting clear & consistent rules
Allowing your pet to eat from the table when guests come over but not allowing them food at the table otherwise is a classic example of not setting clear and consistent boundaries/rules. Both dogs and cats are creatures of habit and stick to that habit no matter what, hence, allowing them to break the rules every now and then is a cause for confusion. It tells their brain that every rule can be broken, even if that means peeing inside the house or chewing shoes. As pet parents, our pets look up to us for guidance, hence setting clear rules and sticking to them no matter the external environment is crucial.
6. Neglecting physical and mental exercise
Like how we thrive on mental and physical exercise, our pets do too! However, their cheat days are far lesser than ours. In fact, they hate days where they don''t have access to sufficient mental and physical exercise. Remember to give your pet adequate mental and physical exercise as per their age and breed, even if that means waking up a few hours early or giving up your Sunday brunch for a run in the park!
Let's take a conscious step towards understanding our pets' needs and working towards being extraordinary pet parents - today & everyday!
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