Steps On How To Avoid Making Those Common Puppy Training Mistakes
One of the most common questions I receive is “How do I train my puppy, and what mistakes should I avoid?” That’s what I want to talk to you about today. Even if you don’t have a puppy right now, hang on to this article if you decide to adopt one in the future.
The arrival of a new puppy is extremely exciting, but it can also be an incredibly frustrating time if you’re not sure what you should do once you get home. By avoiding common mistakes, you’re able to fully enjoy the time you have with your dog as a pup and help her become a well-rounded adult.
MISTAKE NO. 1: BRINGING HER HOME TOO SOON
This is absolutely the most common mistake. And, sometimes it’s unavoidable. The breeder, or party who has the puppies, may no longer want puppies in their home. This forces adopters to take the puppies home when they should still be with their mother. But, if the breeder is willing to allow your puppy to stay until her littermates have been adopted (or until 12 weeks of age), you’ll significantly reduce the chances of your puppy developing behavioral problems later in life.
During the first eight weeks of a puppy’s life, her littermates and her mother is a crucial part of her development. She learns important social skills from her littermates while being nurtured by her mother. Puppies who leave their littermates and mother at too young of an age are likely to struggle with social interaction. You might notice a puppy who has left too soon struggling with dog-dog interaction or even struggling with interacting with you properly.
MISTAKE NO. 2: NOT IMMEDIATELY STARTING TRAINING
When you bring your puppy home, the training process should start immediately. An 8 to 12-week-old puppy should be introduced to basic obedience commands. By learning the basic obedience commands like sit, stay, and come, you’ll help her build self-esteem and become a well-rounded dog.
And yes … training can start on Day 1.
MISTAKE NO. 3: PUSHING HIS FACE IN “IT”
A young puppy (8-12 weeks) doesn’t have any idea why you’re pushing his face in his feces. He will correlate his ‘mess’ with you getting angry, though. This will teach your puppy to fear the mess if he has an accident and could lead him to search out closets or other closed spaces, so you don’t find it.
Crate training helps significantly with housebreaking. Dogs like a comfortable, enclosed place to sleep. And, they don’t like using the bathroom where they rest or eat.
When you’re searching for a crate, the crate should be tall enough for the puppy to stand, and just long enough for her to turn around. If the crate is too big, the puppy might feel comfortable urinating/defecating inside the crate since it will be away from her sleeping area. If the crate is too small, she will be incredibly uncomfortable and learn to despise the crate.
MISTAKE NO. 4: FREE-FEEDING
Leaving food out all day makes house-training even more difficult. Puppies need a routine. Feeding your puppy, then taking her out shortly after, will help her learn the schedule you’re on so she is less likely to have accidents. She will know what to expect.
Feeding at the same time every day will also help her develop a routine. And, will allow you to know exactly how much she is eating each time. When you free feed, you never really know how much your puppy has eaten in a day (if it’s too much this could lead to obesity- if it’s too little it could hinder her development).
MISTAKE NO. 5: NOT
Socialization is critical to your puppy becoming a well-rounded, well-behaved dog. The socialization aspect is part of the reason why puppies should be kept with their littermates until at least 8 weeks of age. She will learn important social skills during this time.
Once you arrive home, it’s your turn to make sure she’s socialized well. Socialization with you, other dogs, and other people, will help your puppy tremendously.
In the ‘dog world,’ there’s something known as the socialization window or the critical learning period. Generally, this is from 8 weeks old to 16 weeks old. During this time, you want your puppy to soak up as much information as possible.
If a puppy isn’t socialized, you could get lucky and he could still be a well-rounded adult. But, most of the time this is where behavioral issues begin. Dogs who lack socialization are more likely to encounter issues including severe separation anxiety, dog-dog aggression, and/or dog-human aggression.
You do need to be careful who you socialize with, though. Puppies under 16 weeks old don’t have a fully developed immune system yet. Ensuring your puppy is playing with dogs who are vaccinated, or puppies who have the same vaccination schedule, is important. You should never visit a dog park with a puppy who is under 16 weeks old. Although this sounds like the perfect spot for her, this could result in not only illness but fear due to excessive commotion.
MISTAKE NO. 6: EXTENDING ‘HELLO’S AND GOODBYE’S’
This is the last mistake I am going to talk about today, and it’s extremely common. If you exaggerate your hello’s and goodbye’s, your puppy is more likely to experience separation anxiety when they get older. You might also notice your puppy starts jumping on you, or vocalizing excessively, when you walk in or leave. That’s cute when they’re a puppy- but can be extremely frustrating when they become an adult.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to puppy training. But, the items I just mentioned are by far the most common. If you’re still wanting to learn more information about puppy training, you can visit my blog at www.dogbehaviorblog.org. You can also join the Dog Behavior Group on Facebook if you want advice not only from myself, but other canine professionals, dog lovers, and dog owners.
Until next time!