6 Well Intentioned Ways You're Ruining Your Dog

#3. Scolding it For Peeing on the Floor

Dogs pee for a lot of reasons, such as because they can. They also pee to mark territory, because they just have to go, and sometimes because they have low self-esteem. Yes, sometimes dogs pee as a way of saying, "You're the boss! I'm a nobody!"

Dog experts call it submissive urination. It's like when your boss is giving you orders, and then you say, "Yes sir, right away sir," and then you pee on the floor. Or maybe things work differently at your office.

Anyway, it's easy to think the dog is just being a dick who wants to ruin your carpet, and your natural reaction is to yell at him. That's like you at the office being in the middle of saying, "Yes sir, of course sir," to your boss, and he interrupts you with an angry, "YOU SIMPLETON! YOU ABSOLUTE MORON!" Your natural reaction is to just pile on the bootlicking ("Sorry sir, I'm such an idiot, sir."), just like your dog's natural reaction is to pee on the floor some more to show you how totally in charge you are.

"You're the man! Here, have some urine. Please don't hurt me."

Dogs that pee on the floor for other reasons need to be dealt with differently, but dogs that are peeing submissively (the cowering is usually a clue) need special treatment. Believe it or not, you need to build up your dog's confidence. Leaning down over him, talking loudly or looking him in the eye make him feel like a peon, so you need to make him feel like a champ by sitting down at his level and avoiding eye contact. When you first get home, you might even want to ignore him for a while until he's calm enough to take a greeting. You can also play "Eye of the Tiger" and point at him.

But don't yell at him. He's only peeing to show you he's the most worthless, harmless dog in the world. Yelling just feeds his little martyr complex.

#2. Giving it a Bone

Dogs have been gnawing at bones for thousands of years, mostly without incident. Then again, we used to poop in our own drinking water and we don't really seem married to that tradition anymore.

It turns out bones can mess up a dog in a lot of weird ways that people may not notice. The FDA says you shouldn't give bones to your dog and, according to their cheerful top 10 list of reasons, bones can break dogs' teeth, cut up their mouth or tongue if splintered, cut up their insides with bone fragments or cause them to bleed out the ass.

Rawhide chews have their problems too, but they at least are designed to be eaten by your dog (despite what the creationist diatribe in the movie All Dogs Go to Heaven might tell you, the same can not be said for bones). No chew treat is perfect, but bully sticks, or pizzles are digestible and one of the safer ones out there. Also, they appear to be made out of bull penises, so they make an interesting conversation piece.

#1. Buying an Expensive Dog

If you wind up in the market for a dog, you'll have the chance to spend "could have bought a nice plasma TV instead" money on a purebred of some kind. But you should spare no expense getting the highest quality dog possible, right?

Actually, purebreeding is pretty controversial in the dog world. Breed standards put out by organizations like the American Kennel Club lay out precise specifications for each breed. But as animal interaction expert James Serpell points out, the standards are almost completely physical, with only vague terms describing behavior. Some of the standards aren't even physically good for the dogs. Serpell says almost all purebred bulldogs have to be delivered by C-section because people kept breeding the dogs for bigger and bigger heads while they still have the same tiny hips.

The other problem is inbreeding. There's only a limited pool of "perfect" dogs in a breed, and soon enough everyone is everyone's cousin, like European royalty. Also like European royalty, genetic defects start to become more prominent, to the point that every breed has a set of genetic defects it's known for and which conscientious breeders try to watch out for.

Many breeders care a lot about their dogs and make breeding selections based on their dogs' temperament and welfare instead of just trying to make the perfect specimen for display or for sale. But dog breeding is not dissimilar to the fashion industry. The standards and trends that determine pricing are set by a bunch of weird people who care about genetically unrealistic standards that the average dog owner couldn't give less of a shit about.

This leads to a weird counter intuitive dog purchasing landscape where your best bet at getting a happy, healthy dog costs about 1/20th of one that will likely cost you thousands in vet bills, or a drive to the weird farmer who doesn't ask questions and doesn't judge, depending on how compassionate you are.

Some people feel we should eliminate the practice of pure breeding altogether, but as long as greed exists that's unlikely to happen. Still, the next time you're deciding what breed to choose, keep in mind that your best bet at a happy, healthy dog may be to choose "damned if we know." Take a trip to the pound to rescue one that is the mixed up spawn of as much unholy breed-mixing as possible. The more pit bulls that jumped the fence in a poodle owner's back yard up the genetic line, the better.

Granted, if everyone gave up on pure breeds that would mean an end to corgis...

...but it would also mean an end to Chinese Cresteds.

So we're torn on this one.

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