New to puppy parenthood? As you navigate the new experiences and challenges coming your way, here are some common mistakes to avoid!

The Puppy Phase: 8 Common Mistakes New Pup Parents Make

New to puppy parenthood? Here are some common mistakes to avoid! 

1. Not Socializing Your New Puppy

Experts say puppies who aren’t properly socialized during the first 3 months of their life are at a greater risk of developing behavior problems in the future, like fear and aggression.

Here’s the thing: What your dog learns as a young pup will stick with him for the rest of his life. According to Certified Dog Behavior Consultant Kathy Reilly, the prime socialization period is typically between 6-14 weeks old. During this time, the synapses in the dog’s brain are growing a thousandfold. So it’s important to expose your dog to as many sights, sounds, and experiences as possible. 

Unfortunately, this is also a time that veterinarians tell us not to take our young puppies out in public because they haven’t finished their first round of vaccinations. So, until your pup is fully protected, you’ve gotta get creative:

  • Schedule puppy play dates with trusted friends
  • Sit on your front porch or patio and let your pup watch people and other dogs walk by
  • If you’re taking a quick trip to the store, either bring a friend or family member along so your dog can sit in the parking lot and people watch
  • Put your little furkid in a Puppy Sling Carrier and walk around your community

Once your pup has his shots:

  • Walks around your community
  • Puppy training classes

2. Misusing The Crate

Crates offer a safe and controlled setting when your full attention can’t be on little Fido. And get this: Since dogs are naturally den animals, they actually like confined spaces. Well, that is, unless you misuse the crate. Some advice:

  • Never use the crate as a form of punishment. The crate should always be looked at as a positive place and somewhere your pets can go to feel safe.
  • Don’t leave your pet in the crate for more than four hours. It’s important to remember that puppies have tiny tanks – they will not be able to hold their bladders for more than a few hours. If you have a young puppy who isn’t familiar with the crate yet, keep sessions anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. As your pup matures, if you’re heading off to work, cap crate time to 4 hours. Either come home at lunch to let your fur kid out for some exercise or enlist the help of a professional dog walker! 

3. Delaying Training

When people first bring their new puppies home, it’s easy to get caught up in the cuddling, playing, and spoiling. While a lot will be thrown your way the first few days (and even weeks) with your puppy, it’s important to prioritize training. The earlier you start teaching your dog essential commands (like sit, stay, come, leave/drop it, place) and proper canine etiquette, the better. Look into puppy training classes near you!

4. Inconsistent Training

When it comes to dog training, consistency is key. Dogs get super confused (rightfully so) when mom lets them on the couch, but dad doesn’t. Mom says “down”, but dad says “off”. Get clear on what you expect of your pooch and what words you will use for each action. Then, get everyone in your household on the same page!

5. Saying “No” To Bad Behavior

When your dog does something you don’t like, what’s your first reaction? A lot of people immediately sternly shout, “No!” And if their canine kid doesn’t listen the first time, they may say it again … only this time louder and longer. “NOOOO!” Here are two big problems with the word “no”:

  1. It doesn’t teach your dog what he should do. For example, if your dog jumps on people when they walk through the door, it’s much more effective to instruct your dog to sit. By constantly redirecting your dog’s behavior—vs. negatively telling him what not to do—he will eventually learn good habits.
  2. It’s a rather ambiguous command. For example, say your dog is laying on the couch and eating some stolen food scraps. If you yell “no,” how does your dog know exactly what he did wrong? Was it bad to lay on the couch or eat the leftover food scraps? 

Rather than saying “no” and focusing on the action you don’t want your dog doing, switch your focus to what you actually want your dog to do. Then, clearly redirect and teach good behavior. 

6. Taking the Wrong Car Rides

Many times, puppies only experience car rides when they’re on their way to something traumatic. Think: Vet visits and trips to the groomer. So your puppy doesn’t begin to associate the car with something negative, make sure to take your pup on fun rides too.

7. Feeding from the Table

Picture this: You’re eating a delicious dinner with your family in the dining room and you see your pup sitting nearby. You love your dog so much and want him to experience a bite of the delicious food. So, you reach your hand down and give your pup a piece. 

Does that scenario sound familiar? Yeah — it’s something many of us have done. But, unless you want to promote begging for food, avoid tossing your dog a tasty treat while you’re dining at the dinner table. 

8. Not Brushing Your Puppy’s Teeth

According to Dogs Naturally, more than 70 percent of dogs and cats will suffer from periodontal disease (AKA gum disease) by the time they’re just two years old. Poor oral care can impact your dog’s overall health and well-being, leading to bad breath, plaque, tartar, gingivitis, heart disease, liver damage, and compromised kidney function. Now for some good news—you can do something about it! 

Daily teeth brushing is one of the best ways you can keep your pup’s teeth pearly white! I promise it’s not a time-consuming task. But spending a few minutes each day to show your canine kid’s teeth a little TLC will provide him many benefits throughout his lifetime. Check out THIS article for tips on how to brush your dog’s teeth!

Make teeth brushing part of your dog's daily routine. See what tools you'll need and a step-by-step guide to make the process easier on you and your dog.