Getting a puppy is an exciting time! Dog lovers anxiously await their new arrival and can’t wait to bring home their little bundle of cuteness to cuddle and play with. Then, REALITY sets in. Having a puppy is hard work! Just like having a new baby, it takes a lot of time and patience to teach your new puppy and ensure that you raise a happy, well balanced pup. Before you jump in, do your research and make sure everyone in your household is on the same page on training techniques. Smart pet owners need to remember these tips to ensure your new family member makes a smooth transition into your home. Here are some of the common mistakes new puppy owners make.
Not Crate Training
Many dog owners decide against crate training their dogs thinking that it is cruel or give up too soon after hearing their new baby cry after being put into their crate for the first time. However, this is a big mistake for many reasons. Crate training allows your dog to have their own personal safe space where you do not have to worry about them being harmed when you are not home. In addition, it makes them feel safe and secure. Ever noticed your dog finding a small tight space to sleep in or going to a corner behind a couch when they are scared? Dogs feel calm in the security of a den. With a little training, they will look at their crate as their safe spot and you may be surprised to find them going to it to take naps when left open. I know how heartbreaking it is to hear your new pup cry before they are comfortable with their crate but by letting them out, you are telling them that they can cry whenever they are unhappy with something and that you will respond. To get through the first few nights, try putting a cover over the top of your puppy’s crate to help them feel more secure and fall sleep. Make their crate a place of comfort with a comfy blanket and/or bed and give them a toy or kong to keep them busy.
Making Your Dog Anxious
As new puppy owners, we can’t help but feel nervous for our precious babies and want to protect them as much as possible. However, it’s important not to scoop your dog up every time another dog approaches and you fear for their safety. Puppies need to be socialized and the only way for them to do this is by having interactions with and learning from other dogs. When we act fearful, our dog picks up on this. Try not to let your nervousness get the best of you or it can make your pup feel as though they have something to be nervous about too which can lead to a mentally unstable dog with anxiety issues. If you have concerns over an approaching a dog, be sure to ask their owner if it’s friendly. Then, allow the dogs to greet and sniff each other.
Coddling Your Puppy
You may find it adorable when your puppy acts scared the first time that they hear thunder and feel the need to hold them close and reassure them that everything is ok. As tempting as it may be, constant fussing over your new little one can lead to separation anxiety in the future. It’s important to teach your dog independence so that they can grow and develop into a well adjusted, happy dog. It’s much more difficult to try to teach an adult dog once they have developed bad habits and become dependent on you for their security.
Feeding Table Scraps
Whatever you do, DO NOT give your dog scraps from your meals. As soon as you start, this is an impossible habit to break. Once you give your dog scraps, they will come to expect it EVERY time you eat. Plus, human food is not healthy for dogs and is one of the main causes of a number of dog illnesses including pancreatitis. There are several people foods that are highly toxic to dogs including onions, grapes, raisins, and chocolates. Furthermore, your dog may decide that they like people food so much that they may start turning their nose up to their own food.
You Scold Your Puppy After The Fact
Ever found your dog after they chewed something up or had an accident in the house, pushed their nose in it and said ‘No!’? Dogs live in the moment. Unless you catch your dog in the act of doing something wrong, they have no idea why you are yelling at them. He’ll probably just think you are angry with him for whatever he is doing at that time. It just leads to confusion and may teach your dog to be fearful of you. It’s important to direct your dog to the toys that they are allowed to chew or to areas where you want them to go potty and to only scold them when they are in the act of doing something wrong.
Exercise Your Dog
As they say, a tired dog is a good dog. Making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and playtime on a daily basis is so important. It enables you to have a calmer, happier, more well behaved dog and allows them to get the stimulation that they need. Exercise and play helps them to expend their excess energy which helps to avoid unwanted behavior such as inappropriate chewing.
Do your research and follow these tips and you will have a good start to raising a happy, healthy furry family member. It’s never too early to start training! Enjoy your new baby!