Getting things right with your puppy from the very beginning is so important But with the myriad of advice out there on the internet about what you should do, its hard to work out what is right and what is wrong. Get it wrong and you could be in for a life time of naught, attention seeking, behaviours or worse a dog that is anxious and show aggression towards things they don’t understand. So here are 10 things you should never do with your puppy to make sure that bad behaviours don’t persist into adulthood.
10 Things you should NEVER do with your little puppy.
1) NEVER – Allow your puppy (age upto 1 year ) in a dog park free running for long periods of time.
- Growth plates within the joints of puppies have not fully closed until the onset of puberty, around 1 year old (maybe earlier for smaller dogs). When you allow them to freely run over long distances these joints could become damaged and worn, before they close completely. This is particularly a problem if you neuter before puberty. This increases the chance of early onset arthritis and other joint related problems. These can be extremely painful for the dog. Can you image what it would be like living most of your life in pain, just because you were allowed to run too much when you were young?
2) NEVER – Use treats to lure your puppy into positions like the sit and down during training sessions.
- Using lures to train your puppy encourages your puppy to follow your hand and grab the food. This is teaching your puppy to target your hands and can inadvertently teach your puppy that things in your hands are appropriate to bite at. On a training angle you will end up with a puppy that only offers behaviours for you when a treat is present, rather than doing them for you.
3) NEVER – Play rough with your puppy, by roughing up their face with your hands.
- Playing rough around your puppies face will always annoy your puppy. As a result your puppy will try and remove your hands from their face with their teeth. This will send a message to your puppy that it is appropriate to bite hands when they go near them. Not great when you are trying to grab their collar or clean their ears. If you are doing this then stop it immediately, especially if you have young children in the family.
4) NEVER – Tell your puppy off when they do something wrong.
- Being negative to your puppy when they are doing things that you don’t want them to do only makes those things happen more often. Using the word ‘No’ or ‘Aahha’, has no relevance to your puppy and all you are doing is adding validity to that behaviour. If you are giving naughty behaviours attention then you’re promoting them. This will only make your puppy sneaky, they’ll learn that they shouldn’t do things when you are there, but as soon as you turn your back they’ll do it anyway.
5) NEVER – Use puppy pads to toilet train.
- If you allow your puppy to go to the toilet on a training pad in the house you are telling your puppy that it is ok to defecate or urinate in the house. Using a strict toilet training protocol where you take the puppy outside after certain events will encourage them to go to the toilet outside. Never praise your puppy when they are in the middle of going to the toilet as it will interrupt them and then they are likely to finish this when they come inside. Also never put going to the toilet on command, especially if you leave your dog for long periods of time. And obviously never ever tell your puppy off for going to the toilet in the wrong place, you’ll just build anxiety for a natural process.
6) NEVER – Give your puppy the freedom of the house or garden from the beginning.
- Giving your puppy the whole house or garden to play in unattended gives them the opportunity to create bad habits and undesirable behaviours, like chewing furniture or barking at birds. You will spend more time telling them off for doing bad things and therefore promote those same behaviours as a result. Use a Puppy Crate and Pen to limit their access to particular areas, this will give your puppy clear boundaries and rules to follow.
7) NEVER – Treat your puppy like a teddy bear and kiss and cuddle them inappropriately.
- Although puppies are cute they are not teddy bears and should not be treated as if they are. Children often pick up puppies like they are teddy bears. This can hurt the puppies sometimes but also may frustrate the puppy to the point of biting to get away.
8) NEVER – Let your puppy play with older dogs unattended.
- Young adolescent dogs play a lot harder than puppies do. Letting your puppy play unattended with an older dog could result in your puppy getting injured or getting bitten. If they are left unattended with a senior dog, the senior dog might be bullied by your puppy and have to resort to violence to stop them. This could potentially create an anxious puppy who is scared of other dogs.
9) NEVER – Leave the training of a puppy to the children in the family.
- Too many parents buy a puppy for their children and leave the training to the kids to do. This is like asking a 3 year old to train another 3 year old. The result would be two crazy three year olds! Adults should always take responsibility for training a puppy. Although it’s good to include children in the training of your puppy, so they can form a bond, the important things should be trained by a responsible adult.
10) NEVER Underestimate the importance of socialisation in the first 16-18 weeks.
- It is very clear in the academic literature and through observation that puppies who are socialized appropriately and in a positive way between the ages of 8-18 weeks will be less likely to show aggression and anxiety related issues as they grow older. But remember socialising isn’t just about playing with other dogs. It’s about being able to experience all new situations, people, objects, animals, noises in a positive way, so they don’t become scared of them when they experience something similar in the future. The reason we have to do this in the first 16-18 weeks is because puppies go into a fear phase around 18-20 weeks, if you do it then your puppy could start to develop anxiety based issues.
Finally, so many people who get a puppy focus on the wrong things. They always teach them, normally by luring with a piece of food, the sit, the down and shake hands, but fail to address the most important things. The first 8 weeks of your life with your puppy should be focused on building your bond and making sure that you are fully socialising your puppy in a positive way.
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