Owning a dog is a wonderful thing, but it can also be worrying. We care deeply about our furry friends, and none of us wants to make a mistake that will make our puppy’s life worse. So, like new parents, we fret: Are we feeding our dogs the right things? Is our dog getting enough exercise? What sort of leash and collar would be best? There are so many decisions to make, and every decision that affects our pet seems vitally important.

Mistakes to Avoid as a Dog Owner

Try not to worry, though. You’re surely going to continue to be a great dog owner—and, with the help of this article, you’re going to avoid some of the pitfalls that have plagued your peers. If you steer clear of these missteps, you’re going to give your dog the wonderful life that it deserves.

Mistake No. 1: Failing to do your research before buying or adopting a new pet.

Getting a dog is very exciting, but it’s not a decision that you should rush into—no matter how badly you want that little furball. While every type and breed of dog has its fans, every dog owner should know that there are real and measurable differences between breeds. Before you adopt a dog or contact a breeder, you should know everything you need to about the type of fur the dog has (will it shed?), how large it will be when it grows up, what sorts of health problems are common in the breed, whether or not the breed is good with kids, how much exercise the dog will need, and more. The more you know about the dog you want, the more likely you will be to make the right decision and find the perfect companion.

Mistake No. 2: Buying all of your dog care supplies at the store.

A pet supply store can be a wonderful thing. If you’re lucky enough to have a nice local pet supply shop near your home, then you should consider going there for little things like collars and dog toys. But if you want to keep your sanity, don’t go to the store every time you need dog food! Stock up on some spare food, and take a chore out of your dog-care schedule by checking out subscription services for dog food.

When it comes to heavy stuff and regularly needed supplies like dog food, modern e-commerce and subscription options make too much sense to ignore. Plus, these options will give you access to some of the healthiest and most popular dog food brands out there. It’s a no-brainer!

Mistake No. 3: Skipping out on grooming and veterinary care.

Your dog is supposed to head to the veterinarian more often than most humans go to the doctor: It’s about once every six months, as opposed to once a year. It’s tempting to avoid this chore, but don’t do it! Without regular visits to the vet, you’ll be putting your pet’s life in danger.

And don’t forget about grooming, either. Though it may not seem as essential as a trip to the vet, grooming has just as much to do with your pet’s health as it does with your pet’s looks. Keep your pet clean, happy, and healthy.

Mistake No. 4: Being too hard on yourself.

With dogs, children, and so many other things in life, it is all too easy to become fixated on your own responsibilities. As pet owners, we imagine that there’s a right answer to everything; that there’s a “perfect” way to raise a pup.

The reality, of course, is that things are much more complicated. One dog food brand might have a reputation for being a bit more delicious than another, but does your dog agree? Unless you’ve taught your dog to speak English, you are unlikely to get detailed feedback on the difference between food that’s great and food that’s merely good. You’ll just have to content yourself with knowing that your dog eats the food, and seems to like it. There’s no right answer, and trying to find one through the endless advice that pet owners get will only stress you out.

Even where there are right answers to be found, you can’t assume that you’ll get every one right. Maybe you’ll find out that the latest and greatest tips you got from the dog trainer in 2015 are now outdated, and you’ve been training your dog less effectively than you might have. Or maybe you’ll find out that you’re making a mistake that was never considered correct—you just didn’t know it was wrong! Whether from misinformation or mistakes, you’re going to make poor decisions from time to time. That’s life.

It’s important to remember that your dog’s life is much better with you in it. You have something special, and it doesn’t need to be perfect. Just do your best to avoid big mistakes and express your love of your dog through responsible ownership, and trust the little missteps to be forgotten by you and your dog alike.