When the introduction is over, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty parts of raising your new puppy. You’ll smile at the sound of puppy paws scampering through the house and your heart will burst with joy the first time they crawl into your lap for a snuggle, but the reality of owning a puppy isn’t always so sweet. It’s a big job, and new puppy owners aren’t expected to get everything right on the first try. Doing what’s best for your puppy is your main priority, and you’ll do them a favor by avoiding these common mistakes.
#1 – Underestimating the Time Commitment
When your puppy is only a few months old, you’ll need to devote a significant amount of time to their training and well-being. You’ll need to get up for late-night potty breaks, and they’ll need daily training sessions to teach them everything they need to know about being a good dog. Combine that with regular exercise, and you’ll be spending several hours a days giving your puppy your full attention.
#2 – Being a Loner
The prime time for socializing your puppy is between seven weeks and four months of age. This is when they’re starting to develop their permanent personality, and exposing them to as many new places, people, animals, and experiences as possible will be the foundation they’ll need to be a confident adult dog. You’ll want to stay at home and do nothing but cuddle with your adorable puppy, but keeping them isolated won’t do any good.
#3 – Misusing the Crate
Crate training will be an important part of your puppy’s training curriculum. Crates give puppies a safe place to sleep and relax, and they keep mischievous youngsters out of trouble when you’re not at home. Once your puppy is trained to go to their crate on command, don’t stop using it too soon. You should keep your puppy in the crate when they’re unsupervised until they’re mature enough to be trusted alone. Also, remember the crate is you puppy’s personal space and should never be used as punishment.
#4 – Taking the Wrong Car Rides
Between several rounds of vaccinations and being spayed/neutered, puppies spend a lot of time traveling to and from the vet. If the vet’s office is the only place they ever go, it won”t take them long to start associating car rides to being poked and prodded by a stranger in a white coat. Many puppies develop travel fears during those first few months of vet visits, and it sticks with them into adulthood. New puppy owners can avoid this problem by mixing in a few fun field trips between vet visits. Go to a friend’s house or another puppy-friendly place to enforce the idea that car rides aren’t always bad.
#5 – Treating From the Table
Forget the training or getting up in the middle of the night–the toughest thing about raising a puppy is resisting those puppy dog eyes. Your puppy’s cuteness will mesmerize you and get you to do silly things, but stay strong! Giving your dog scraps from your plate reinforces begging behavior. Not only is most people food unhealthy for dogs, treating from the table will teach your dog bad manners. Make it a point to never feed your dog while sitting down at the table, and only give them puppy-approved foods.
There’s a lot to learn about owning a puppy, and everyone’s bound to make mistakes. It’s not the walk in the park many people think it is, but it’s always a rewarding experience. Your new puppy will shower you with more than enough love and appreciation to make the early morning wake-up calls and chewed up shoes worth the effort. If you dedicate yourself to doing what’s right for your puppy, they’ll grow to be a confident, well-mannered canine citizen.