You may not be perfect, but you're better than these irresponsible dog owners.
No one ever said pup parenting was easy. It comes with daily challenges, and sometimes you have to admit that you don't know what you're doing. But even on your worst days, you know the best thing you can do for your pup is to try your hardest to be a responsible and caring dog owner.
But then there are these people. They're the dog owners that give the rest of us bad reputations, and quite honestly, they put our teeth on edge. Here are a few of the worst kinds of irresponsible dog owners you encounter on a daily basis.
The Pooper Scooper Slacker
These kinds of irresponsible dog owners claim a number of different excuses to leave their dog's poop where it lies. There's the "I'm a Germaphobe" dog owner that probably shouldn't have a dog in the first place, and every now and then, you'll hear the "It's Better For The Environment" spiel.
Not only is dog poop stinky and especially prone to ending up on the bottom of your shoe, it also spreads diseases between other dogs. By not picking it up, these pooper scooper slackers are putting every dog in the area at risk. One of the first things new dog owners learn is that dogs can be dirty. They slobber, drink out of the toilet, and if you can't pick up poop, you're not taking proper care of your pet.
The Dietary Delinquent
You can't be a dog owner without first learning there are certain human foods that dogs simply can't eat. Chocolate is an obvious one, but there are also grapes, onions, potato peels, avocados, and plenty of others.
Responsible dog owners take food threats seriously. They memorize the list of dangerous foods, and if they're not sure about something, you can bet they're already on Google or dialing the vet's number in search of information.
But then there are dog owners that say things like, "Well, my dog ate that once and he's fine." Or, "He eats that all the time, he must have a stronger stomach than most dogs." Many of the health issues caused by non-dog-friendly foods do damage where you can't see it or even know about it. Just because a dog doesn't get instantly sick, that doesn't mean the toxins in the food aren't silently destroying the dog's insides.
The Off-Leash Loser
Before you worry, deciding to let your dog off-leash does not automatically make you an irresponsible dog owner. When a dog is well-trained and accustomed to acting off the leash in public areas, there are usually no issues. The trouble starts when people let their dogs run free without being 100% confident they'll behave.
You've likely seen these kinds of dog owners out hiking or walking down the street. They let their dogs run up to anyone and everyone and think a brief, "He's friendly!" statement excuses the fact that their dog is greeting people and other dogs without permission. Their dog may be friendly, but not all dogs are.
Many dogs react aggressively to strangers suddenly running up to them and popping their personal bubbles. Letting your dog off-leash before they're properly trained is a dangerous game to play.
The Service Dog Scammer
Most pup parents admit to wishing they could take their furbabies with them everywhere. But there are some dog owners that cross the line. While many public areas and buildings abide by "no animal" policies, service animals are always an exception. There are many different kinds of service animals, including guide dogs, seizure alert dogs, and autism dogs, and they all have a very important job to do.
But there are people out there that take advantage of this system. They bring their pets into stores claiming they're service animals when they're really not. It's a scam that is hurting the people that actually need their service dogs with them at all times, and it needs to stop.
The Overly Opinionated Owner
Receiving advice from others in similar situations is one of the best methods to learn and grow, but there's always a limit to the amount of unwanted advice you can stand. Newsflash: there is no one way to raise a dog.
Even professional behaviorists, trainers, and veterinarians often disagree. And in most cases, the person that knows best is the one that spends the most time with that particular dog--AKA, the owner. But when a random person you meet at the dog park decides you're doing something wrong and they know what the right thing to do is, it's hard to keep your cool.
So you hold your dog's leash in your right hand and not your left? You gave your dog a treat without asking him to do a trick in return? It really doesn't matter. Unless you're doing something that is obviously threatening the well-being of your dog or of those around you, don't let these overly opinionated owners bother you.
These kinds of dog owners can come individually, but you've also met people that exhibit several of these irresponsible characteristics all rolled into one package deal. While they may irritate you, keep in mind it's really their dog you should be worried about, not your feelings. Don't end up being that opinionated owner yourself, but a very politely-worded concern will never hurt.
And now that you know what to look for in irresponsible dog owners, do everything you can to make sure you never turn into one.