Congrats on your new puppy! I bet you are super excited to have a companion that will love you unconditionally and be there for you no matter what.
As your puppy grows and matures you are going to want to teach your puppy to have good manners, good listening skills and be respectful. These are pretty much the same skills we want human children to learn too, but there are a few things you should know before you get started.
First, your dog's brain works differently than a human, therefore, the way we train them is slightly different than the way we teach children. You'll want to keep these 5 common newbie mistakes in mind when you begin your puppy's training which starts on the very first day you bring them home. These are mistakes new puppy owners make on accident of course, but after reading these tips you'll be well on your way to understanding the best way to train your puppy!
1.Speaking Before Teaching
It is easy for us to forget that puppies do not speak our language! We can inadvertently teach a puppy to ignore us by over communicating. Make sure your puppy knows what you expect of them, using a consistent reward system, before attaching a name to that behavior! You may try to ask your puppy to do something like “sit” or “down” before they actually know what the word means. Take a step back and teach them what the word means before asking them to perform the command.
2.Using One Cue for Multiple Behaviors
Another way we confuse puppies is by using the same word for more than one behavior. An example of this would be using the cue “down” to mean both lie down and get off of something. Instead, create unique words for every behavior. “Down” means go lay down and rest while “off” means get off of me or the furniture, usually used when your puppy is jumping.
3.Under-Exposing Your Puppy
A critical development period for puppies is between 8 and 16 weeks old. Try to get in the habit of positively exposing your puppy to novel experiences every day. These experiences can include, but are not limited to, types of flooring, other dogs, and different types of people, sounds and smells. Many puppy owners make the mistake of keeping their puppy home and avoiding exposure to environments outside the home. This may lead to a reserved, shy or fearful dog later in life. As soon as your pup is vaccinated take them on some new adventures as soon as possible!
4.Creating a Hoarder or Resource Guarder
This is a behavior that puppies can develop when they believe their valued resources are going to always be taken away. These resources can include your puppy’s toys and food and even items they should not have. Teach your puppy to willingly drop any item by trading them with something of equal, or higher, value! Make trade-offs a game so your puppy eagerly wants to give you their favorite toys and bones.
5.Ignoring the Good and Rewarding the Bad
Sometimes we forget to tell our puppy what a great job they are doing but we are quick to tell them “No” when they are getting into trouble. It's easy to accidentally reward our puppy for bad behavior without even knowing it. Take for example a puppy that jumps on guests to say “hi.” Typically the first thing your puppy receives is petting while they are jumping. This means they are being rewarded for bad behavior. Ideally, you want your puppy to politely approach someone and sit to say “hi.” The next time you see your puppy behaving well tell them they did a great job (“good sit” or “good down”) and make sure you don't accidentally reward for bad behavior.
There are many things we need to teach our puppies to help them get to success. If you want to learn a few more mistakes to avoid as a new puppy owner, check out part 2 of this blog series by clicking here.
In the comments below tell me one mistake you see other new puppy owners make and what they should do instead.