5 Common Mistakes Puppy Owners Make
Updated: May 6
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New puppies are super cute, so it’s really hard to tell them off with those big eyes gazing back at you. But puppies eventually turn into teenagers, who then become adults with not so cute bad habits.
Puppy training starts early so we’re going to share some tips that will help your puppy turn into a perfectly behaved dog.
1. Dogs Aren't Babies
It sounds so obvious, but it’s the number one mistake new puppy owners make. Puppies have many things in common with babies, but you have to remember that they aren’t human.
Not only do they have completely distinct needs, but they react very differently to new experiences meaning that puppies need a different approach to “parenting” them. Loving them with all your heart won’t teach them the behaviours you wish for.
They don’t understand or respond to baby-talk. While it may be cute to baby-talk to your adorable little puppy (and we've all done it), they simply don’t understand the words, and too much talking can simply confuse the message you are trying to instil.
Be firm, puppy training should being from day one. Use your body language, the tone of your voice along with simple one word commands when training.
Remember to allow them plenty of time to absorb the command and react. Sometimes silence and simply waiting patiently can get the result you are looking for.
2. Letting Puppy Sleep in Your Bed
We all like a good snuggle. Puppies are no different. They have spent the first few months of their life sleeping in a heap with their siblings.
So the first night you bring them home they cry until they’re in bed with you, then snuggle down to sleep and straightaway you’ve broken your first rule – No dogs in the bed!
There are benefits of a dog sleeping in your bed so don’t be too hard on yourself. Sleeping with your dog can ease anxiety and provide feelings of safety and security for you and them, but in the long run a crate is a far better solution.
Dog crate training has long been accepted by trainers and vets as one of the quickest and least stressful ways to shape desirable behaviours in dogs.
Although many new puppy parents initially reject the idea of using a crate because they consider it cruel or unfair to the dog (it does look like a cage), a crate helps satisfy your dog’s instinct to be in a den and because dogs don't like to soil their dens, toilet training with a crate will be quicker and simpler for them.
The crate can also limit access to the rest of the house whilst they learn other house rules, like not to chew on furniture. Too much freedom too early can lead to bad puppy decisions.
If it helps, don’t look at a dog crate as a punishment, view it through a dog’s eyes as their safe-place.
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3. Puppy needs Consistency
Consistency is key with puppies. They simply want to please you but they are easily confused and unsure of what is expected of them.
Puppy’s don’t understand different sets of rules so it’s vital that everyone is on the same page - if there’s no feeding titbits of food from the table, then keep it that way.
No means No! A puppy needs to understand that NO is serious. A firm NO from anyone in the house should be able to curb your puppy’s bad behaviour.
Be aware that dogs don’t categorise in the same way humans do, so don’t be cross if your puppy can ‘sit’ perfectly in the kitchen but can’t in the garden. To begin with, every new environment will require some training, be consistent as it will get quicker.
4. Puppy Loves a Schedule
This goes hand in hand with consistency. Your puppy will learn their schedule quickly and once established, a routine provides a predictable stream of information which reduces stress.
Puppy toilet training is entirely more effective with a schedule. If your puppy knows the door opens first thing in the morning, they have a wee and then get rewarded with a treat, they will expect this and learn it as a routine.
Dogs expect to eat at certain times during the day and this goes hand-in-hand with toilet training. Generally, a puppy will need to go outside 20-30 mins after eating. If your puppy eats at the same time every day and goes out on schedule, toilet training will be a breeze (well, much easier).
5. Grooming Your Puppy
Puppies have relatively short coats and even shorter attention spans. They don’t tend to enjoy grooming, and usually mouth the brush or take off with the comb. Don’t let that dissuade you. Grooming your new puppy regularly makes the job easier as they’re grow up.
It is an ideal opportunity whilst touching your dog all over, to check their skin for suspicious lumps, bumps and tics which can easily be hidden by their coat.
Teach your puppy early to tolerate grooming. Initially start with your hand making long sweeping movements down the back. Progress to the back of the grooming brush which introduces the brush but not the resistance from the bristles.
Finally turn the brush over to use the bristles. Keep the strokes long, light and repetitive. Trying to brush hard, unpredictably or yanking at mats will not help. It’s easy to rush the process, but slow and steady wins the race here.
You can use treats to reward your pup for standing or sitting and help them see it as a pleasant process.
Adding a puppy to your family can be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life. You will always remember those puppy days, even if you don’t remember the sleepless nights and toilet training accidents. Remember, they are puppies for such a short period of time, enjoy it!