Puppyhood. It is a magical and amazing time in you and your dog’s relationship. It goes way too fast and feels like it lasts forever at the same time. It is a time full of challenges, joy, frustration, happiness, and so much learning. Most new puppy owners know what they want from their puppy as they grow, but they do not always know the best way to get there. Now, all puppies are different, and every puppy comes with their own unique genetics, experiences, and personalities. There are things that will work for your pup that might not work for your neighbor’s pup. Raising a puppy does have some golden rules, no matter the dog, and we often see the same mistakes being made by well meaning parents all the time.
Over Socialization/Not Properly socializing.
The golden rule of socializing is quality over quantity. Everyone knows that a puppy needs to be socialized to allow them the best chance to blossom into a happy and social grown up. There is a big gap between willy nilly socialization and proper socialization though. Yes it is important for your dog to be socialized with all types of people and other dogs, but that does not mean EVERY person and dog that walks by. There are some dogs that your puppy should not meet and some dogs that do not want to meet your puppy. Same with people! (The “Don’t worry I love dogs!” crowd when you are working hard on not jumping!) Focus on helping your puppy have much more good experiences than negative ones. Never let your puppy go up to a dog without permission first and practice being able to walk past dogs and people without saying hi. Yes it is important to be socialized, but if you have your puppy greet every living thing they see, good luck getting them to walk past anything as an adult. Always remember, quality over quantity.
Waiting to Start Training.
There is a misconception out there that puppies can not retain anything they are taught at a young age. This is not true! Puppies are constantly learning, good and bad behaviors. This is a time where habits, expectations, and the future you will share together, will start to form. Trust me, bad habits are more difficult to break than good ones are to build from scratch. According to Jane Lindquist, renowned founder and owner of Puppy Culture, Puppies can start learning basic commands as young as four weeks old and in fact there are many things that Puppies under twelve weeks old will learn more quickly and more easily than puppies over that age. That is not to say that there is a point where it is too late for your puppy to start learning. It is never too late! Just that the earlier you start, the smoother your journey together will be. So grab that clicker and a bag of treats and start training the day your new puppy arrives. You will be happy you did!
Not Listening to the Puppies Needs
Our dogs are always communicating with us. Too often though that communication goes unnoticed. Often that is due to lack of knowledge on our part. Take the time to learn how to understand dog body language. A few minutes studying can lead to a deeper understanding and thus a better relationship, giving you the best chance to do what is going to help your puppy the most.
The other part of learning how to read what your dog is saying, is actually listening. It is one thing to know what your dog is saying but it does not mean anything if you do not listen. That means removing your puppy from situations that they are uncomfortable with instead of making them push through. That might mean telling certain people they can not say hi to your pup at that moment, steering clear from other dogs at times and not forcing into buildings that are overly intimidating to them.
Not crate training.
The crate can be one of the most useful tools in your dog’s life. From potty training to curbing mouthiness, or just creating a safe space to calm down in, being comfortable in the crate will make your life with your dog easier and more happy. We often hear people saying they feel bad crating their dog, but if it is introduced and used correctly it can become a safe haven and the most comfortable place your dog has in the house. Remember, the crate can be an amazing training tool and a great place to keep your puppy and your house safe as they grow up. That being said, you do not have to feel married to that crate for the rest of your dog’s life. As they mature and things like potty training, furniture chewing, and shoe stealing start to fade away, your puppy will have the opportunity to earn more and more freedom over time until that crate is just a place that they can choose to be on their own.
If you want to learn more about crate training, check out our video below.
So go forward, have fun and enjoy this amazing time in you and your dog’s life with the knowledge that will help you to avoid these common mistakes. If you want some more guidance, reach out for a private puppy consultation. We invite you to join our free facebook, The Homework Club, for free training tips and amazing community!