6 Common Mistakes New Dog Owners Make

A friend of mine was telling me about adopting a new pup and I cringed. Not because of the pup, but because of what she said next.

“I thought it would be fun to have a cuddle bug to snuggle up next to, but she barks all the time! Plus, she keeps having accidents in the house, and just last night she destroyed Jamie’s phone charger!”


I could sympathize. After all, every dog lover has experienced moments when our perfect vision of the fluffy snuggles on the couch didn’t match up with reality.

However, I also knew that she’d never had a dog before so didn’t know what to expect. She’d also adopted this dog on impulse at one of those “adopt a dog” events you see sometimes at suburban shopping centers.

Further complicating matters, her roommate wasn’t sure she wanted to add a dog to their household. It wasn’t the ideal scenario.

Be the Best Pet Parent With a Little Preparation

You probably wouldn’t bring a small child home and think they won’t ever be fussy or disrupt your routine. Dogs are no different. They have needs too. And with a little preparation, you can enjoy a strong bond with “the best dog” for you.

Here are 6 common mistakes new dog owners make:

1. Choosing the wrong type of dog for them

best toys for herding dogs

I love border collies. I like their long fluffy fur and inquisitive eyes, their size, and good nature. Yet, I’ll probably never have a herding dog like a border collie because we’re a bad match lifestyle-speaking.

Border collies are bred to be working farm dogs. They run and they herd sheep. And if there are no sheep to herd, they herd people. They’re smart and bore easily. I live in a city condo and spend much of my time on my computer.

It’s not a good match for either of us. If you’re not sure what type of temperament the dog has, look up the breed online and talk with the dog’s current caretaker.

Shelter dogs have volunteers who often know quite a bit about a dog’s personality and will be happy to share. They want the dog to go to the right home for it.

2. Not training the dog

puppy training

Of the many common mistakes new dog owners make, this one may be the most detrimental.

A dog trainer friend once told me, “There are no bad dogs. Only untrained dogs.” When she said this, I had an “aha” moment.

After all, dogs are like perpetual toddlers. You wouldn’t expect a two-year-old to understand all your “rules of the house” from the moment they walked in the door, would you?

Of course not. You’d teach them certain expectations. It’s the same with your dog. Dogs can be trained not to bark all the time or jump on people or destroy your belongings. But it takes training, time, and patience.

Need to find a trainer? Here are 4 Tips on Choosing a Dog Trainer.

3. Misunderstanding grooming requirements

can you use head and shoulders on a dog

As a guideline, short-haired dogs require less grooming, but their fur covers everything. Long-haired breeds like Samoyeds and Pomeranians require frequent brushing or their fur gets matted.

Short-haired breeds do well with regular professional grooming, too.

If you’re thinking of a long-haired dog, have you budgeted time and money for grooming sessions?

4. Not making the time for a dog

working from home with pets

Dogs of all sizes need daily exercise. They also need training, as mentioned above, and they just need time to hang out with you.

Dogs are social creatures. If your current lifestyle means you’re barely home to sleep, then it may not be the best time to introduce a dog into your life.

Of course, this also goes back to choosing the right breed of dog for you. Some people have dogs they travel the world with, but it’s all about temperament, training, and your commitment to them.

5. Constant treats and overfeeding

dog getting a treat

Some people like to show love and affection through feeding. And, there are a lot of great dog treats. But canine obesity is rampant in America. You think you’re just showing love and affection by giving treat after treat, but this blinds you to the fact that you are making them suffer.

But your dog has a lot going on as he/she adjusts to a new home. You can make it a little easier by only giving treats during positive training. For example, if you want to keep your new pup off the furniture, then give a treat when they curl up on the floor rather than the couch. 

6. Not having enough patience

Everyone’s busy and feels rushed. It can take weeks and even months for a new dog to settle in. This means it’s important to give it time.

Stay consistent with your training, make sure your dog gets enough exercise and socialization and they’ll get it.

Love them

woman in face mask with dog

Dogs love structure. Give it to them and they’ll be happy. 

Fast-forward six months and I saw my friend posting pictures of the dog on social media. I asked about the pup and she said that they got a dog trainer for a few sessions and after a few weeks he was like a different dog.

What about you? What surprises did you encounter with your first dog?

Want even more tips on how to avoid these mistakes new dog owners make? Check out our Puppy Crash Course for tips on how to take care of your new furry friend.