5 mistakes to avoid with your new puppy

The first few days of life with your new pup are a time to bond and welcome the newest member into your family. However, owning a dog is a major commitment, and there is a lot to consider before you even bring your new friend home. 

Here are five mistakes every new dog owner should avoid.

1. Failure to prepare

Do your research thoroughly before getting any breed of dog.

Consider what breed you would like as your companion and research the features specific to that breed. How will the dog fit into your lifestyle? Don’t expect a border collie to lie asleep on the couch all day or a chihuahua to be able to cope with day-long hikes.

Also, do your homework on how long it will take to train them, the cost, what you’ll feed them, insurance and what you’ll do if they need medical help. 

2. Getting the dog from the wrong place

Unfortunately, the explosion in dog ownership prompted by COVID lockdowns led to a corresponding growth in puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders who put profit before welfare.

So be very aware from the outset. If something seems off, don’t even attempt to proceed with purchasing a pup. Warning signs include breeders who won’t let you visit the litter when they are old enough or who won’t let you see the mother with the dogs.

Seek out reputable breeders, and ask for advice if the world of dog ownership is new to you. The Kennel Club will be able to help you.

3. Training ineffectively

We all make mistakes, but the main thing to remember is that there’s no point in shouting or punishing your dog if it doesn’t behave as you would wish.

It’s just a baby, after all. And it’s in a new home, away from its mother and trying to adapt to your life. So be calm, consistent and patient in your training. Reward the positive, and that’s the behaviour that will be repeated. Soon your pup will understand just what you want and that it can trust you always to be kind.

This book is highly recommended for puppy owners (non-affiliate link)

Be careful to avoid any training methods, teachers or classes that do not use the principles of positive reinforcement. 

And don’t believe those terrible ‘experts’ on the TV who appear to be able to ‘fix’ a dog’s behaviour overnight. Unfortunately, there seem to be almost as many poor trainers as breeders out there, since there are no restrictions on setting yourself up as a dog trainer or walker.

4. Exercising too much or too little

Once your pup is allowed to go out into the wide world, the general guide for exercise is five minutes of walking for each month of age. The more careful you are during this crucial time of growth and development, the better your dog’s skeletal and joint health will be as an adult. And we all want our pups to have a long, healthy and active life!

So take this advice seriously. But walks are not just about pounding the pavement. They’re a time for sniffing, for learning about new surfaces and environments. Let your puppy go at their own pace. Take your time, enjoy watching them learn all about the world, and don’t put any expectations on those early walks.

5. Not allowing downtime

Puppies need rest. A lot of rest. However, they’re babies, and they don’t know this yet. So your job as a puppy parent is to spot the signs and teach the little thing how and when to relax. There should always be a quiet corner or crate to retreat to and ample time for snoozing. The craziest puppy excesses are often caused by an over-tired, over-stimulated pup who just doesn’t know how to stop. A bit like a tiny human, really!

And while they sleep, take some time to relax and recover yourself! Those first few weeks and months are exhausting. But they do pass, and you’ll end up with the most faithful, loyal companion you could ever wish for.

Do you have any advice to offer new pup owners?

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