There’s no one right way to take care of a dog. Dogs have individual needs and respond to different care and training methods. But if you’re a dog owner, you know some things are stupid, annoying, and just downright dangerous to do with your pet. Here are 15 things some dog owners do that other owners absolutely can’t stand.
1. They let their dog run loose
Ever been walking your dog, and a loose dog comes bounding at you? Not only is this incredibly unsettling, it’s highly unsafe. Even friendly dogs might lash out or try to protect their owners when a strange dog is running toward them. What’s even worse is when the loose dog’s owner is completely lackadaisical about the whole situation or nowhere to be found, leaving you to figure out what to do with their dog.
Just because your dog hasn’t ever strayed from your yard in the past doesn’t mean he never will. And even if he’s super friendly, that doesn’t mean he should be running up to strangers. Avoid the conflict, and keep your dogs secured.
Next: Been to the vet lately?
2. They ignore their dog’s medical needs
Dog owners are (hopefully) dog lovers, so they hate to see another dog suffer. And they have a keen eye for when another dog doesn’t look healthy. Maybe a dog you know is dangerously overweight. Or her nails are completely overgrown. Perhaps she’s just acting off, but the owner isn’t concerned about it. Responsible dog owners take care of their pets, and they expect other owners to do the same.
Next: Is there a person holding that leash?
3. They use retractable leashes
Does your dog really need to go halfway down the block from you on walks? Seeing a dog on a retractable leash completely annoys other owners who are trying to keep their dogs contained and walking politely by their sides.
Plus, Healthy Pets notes, “The length of retractable leashes, some of which can extend up to 26 feet, allows dogs to get far enough away from their humans that a situation can quickly turn dangerous. A dog on a retractable leash is often able to run into the middle of the street, for example, or make uninvited contact with other dogs or people.”
Those thin retractable leash cords also tend to break or malfunction. Quit tempting fate with retractable leashes, and find a place where your dog can actually enjoy time off leash instead.
Next: What is he wearing?
4. They dress their dog in inappropriate clothing
OK, the occasional cute sweater or bandana gets a pass. And some dogs actually need clothes to protect them from the elements. But then there are the dog owners who dress their pets in full ensembles every day simply for their personal enjoyment. We get it; they look adorable. But they might also be overheating, having trouble breathing or moving, and panicking because they’re uncomfortable.
Next: Is there a fence here?
5. They rely on electric fences
Electric, or invisible, fences have their pros and cons. (But the pros really are for the owner’s benefit only.) They’re relatively affordable and allow you to contain your dog without completely altering your property with a solid fence. However, electric fences fail. If a dog really wants out, he’ll suffer the shock to make his break. And about those shocks: They’re pretty strong. If your dog gets out, he probably won’t want to face another one to get back in.
Plus, if you’re walking your dog past a yard with another dog, you can’t know for certain whether that big dog charging at you will be contained by an invisible barrier. Needless to say, it can be a shocking experience for everyone involved.
Next: Stop being so friendly.
6. They bring their dog up to say hi
Do you want to go up and talk to every person you meet on the street? If you do, you’re probably a very nice person, and that’s great, but most people would say no. Dogs are the same way. One of the worst things dog owners do on walks is drag their dogs up to say hi to you and your dog.
You should never force interaction between strange dogs. For a lot of dogs, walks overstimulate them, so they might make their fellow canine nervous. Plus, as harmless as a brief greeting on the street might seem, it could get your dog severely sick. In short, everybody should stay in their own lane on dog walks.
Next: This one hurts dog lovers to see.
7. They use physical punishment
Again, most dog owners are dog lovers, and they would never dream of hurting their pets. But every so often, you unfortunately see a dog owner hit their dog when he’s misbehaving or choke him on a leash because he’s never been trained how to walk.
Experts say physical punishment doesn’t work — and it could be creating worse behaviors. Dogs exposed to physical punishment become more fearful and aggressive, making them even more difficult to train.
Next: Bring a bag.
8. They don’t pick up after their dog
Most dog owners are good citizens and keep their communities clean. However, there are the bad apples that ruin the group’s reputation. And it’s not just dog owners getting the bad rap. Everyone suffers.
According to I Heart Dogs, citing government data, about 40% of Americans don’t pick up after their dogs. (Come on, humans.) Dog poop is the No. 3 contributor to water pollution. The waste contains dangerous bacteria that can contaminate an entire ecosystem. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s as toxic as chemical and oil spills. So just pick it up, and consider it your saving-the-planet deed for the day.
Next: Kids and dogs are a tricky combination.
9. They let young children walk the dog unsupervised
Kids and dogs are a beautiful thing. In fact, most dog owners probably would say kids should grow up with dogs. But that doesn’t mean they should be trusted to take care of them unsupervised.
Most dogs could easily overpower, outrun, and maybe even outsmart children. So if you allow your child to walk your dog, you should be there, too, with a hand on the leash. Animal behaviorist Jo Righetti recommends giving the green light only to teens with a dog who’s trained. Any other scenario should take some careful evaluation on the adult owner’s part.
Next: A lonely dog makes everyone sad.
10. They leave their dog in a yard all day
You know that house — the one with the dog barking all day in the yard from boredom and loneliness. Yes, most dogs love being outside, but they’re social creatures, too. You can’t expect them to be happy confined to a yard all day. Eventually, dogs who are lacking company and mental stimulation might take matters into their own hands — paws — and stage an escape or get into other trouble.
Next: Why is there a dog here?
11. They bring their dog to places they shouldn’t
Raise your hand if you’ve seen people with their dogs at Fourth of July festivities. Why, right? Is there a single dog out there who actually loves fireworks?
Some people bring their dogs to places without actually considering the dog’s needs. This could include public places that aren’t necessarily dog-friendly or even vacations where the dog would see more of the hotel room than you. Just because you love your dog doesn’t mean he should go everywhere with you.
Next: Did I ask you?
12. They give unsolicited advice
Ever had a fellow dog owner come up to you and start explaining how you should hold your leash to get your dog to walk better? Did you ask for their advice? If the answer’s no, then they shouldn’t be giving it. Even though owning a dog is practically a full-time job, most people aren’t professionals in the field. And unsolicited advice isn’t polite, even if you own a vet practice. Be a tactful, respectful dog owner instead.
Next: That dog is going to go flying.
13. They let their dog ride unsafely in a car
Have you ever been driving behind a pickup with a dog riding in the bed or noticed a dog hanging halfway out a car window? That inspires terror in most dog owners. They don’t know whether your dog is restrained, and even if she is, that still isn’t safe. For one, a dog riding like that would never be protected in an accident. But she’s also at risk of flying debris and sudden stops and turns. If you wouldn’t let a child ride like that, your dog shouldn’t either.
Next: Heatstroke is serious.
14. They leave their dog in a hot car
Oh, you’ll only be a few minutes? Do you know how fast heat stroke happens? Dogs should never be left in hot cars. And no, cracking the windows doesn’t help. According to PETA, when it’s 78 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can surpass 100 degrees in just minutes. And it only takes about 15 minutes for animals to suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke.
Veterinarian Ernie Ward created a video to show just how hot it gets in a parked car. And while he was pretty sweaty by the end of it, he explained dogs would be in a much more dire situation. Your dog doesn’t know what’s going on when you leave him for “just a minute” in a car. He wouldn’t be as calm as a human, raising his body temperature much more quickly.
Next: There are too many homeless dogs.
15. They give up
Yes, there are times when it’s best to rehome a dog. But then there are the owners who give up without even trying to address whatever issues they have with their pets. Look, we all have gripes about our dogs. They destroy things, bark incessantly, don’t come when called, and so on. But most dog owners wouldn’t ever give up on them unless they absolutely had to, and they can’t stand to see dogs abandoned for petty reasons.