5 Common Puppy Mistakes To Avoid

You’ve decided to get a dog … CONGRATS! It’s a big decision and one that comes with so many wonderful benefits.

But if you’re like me all you can see are those adorable puppy eyes.

When we brought home our Boo Boo we made plenty of mistakes. If I knew then what I know now, there are so many things I would do differently.

Which is why I want to pass on my experience to hopefully help you avoid these common puppy mistakes with your little fur-ball!


Mistake #1:

We believed the dominance Cesar Milan crap

I don’t know why we bought into the whole Cesar Milan phenomenon. Why we believed that he had a point with his belief that humans need to be the Alpha, need to make very clear who is boss. .

Sally Gutteridge has a great blog in which she discusses why she dislikes Cesar Milan and his methods. Regarding his “Alpha dog” theory she says:

His Brand Is Scientifically REJECTED.

Once long ago, a group of unrelated wolves were pushed together and fenced in.
They were confused, squabbled and fought because they had nowhere else to go (a bit like big brother with less participant understanding). A group of scientists interpreted their behaviour as the Alpha theory that Cesar uses today. A few years later the theory was revoked by the very scientists that created it.

The same theory is completely rejected by scientists today. Yet Cesar has built his entire brand on it

Whatever your discipline style is with your dog, I definitely know that I absolutely believe that jabbing a dog with the claw-hand, kicking your dog in the side, and rolling your dog on his side and holding him down until he or she deflates is not the way to build a trusting, loving meaningful connection with your dog.

Luckily Steve and I never tried any of those moves on our dog, but the theory behind them and the idea of needing to be the Alpha definitely affected our first year or so with our pup


Mistake #2:

We didn’t socialize him enough

Having never owned a dog before, and I think terms like socializing can be hard to grasp.

While we understood what it meant in theory, but not what it actually looked like. So once he had his shots, we took him once or twice a day down our main street by the shops, and sat outside at the coffee place and let people say hello.

At the time we thought that was what socializing meant, and that is certainly part of it, but now that I have gotten to know more and more dog-owners and seen more and more puppies come in and out of retailers and dog-parks, I realize how inadequate this was.

In hindsight it would have been better to bring him everywhere with us, even when he was a small puppy before he had all his shots. I have seen so many people bring small puppies into pet stores and on walks, holding the puppy.

A vet might tell me I’m wrong about this, and I of course defer to them regarding disease safety, but these folks don’t let their puppies walk on the ground or interact with other dogs, but they have the puppy get cuddled and held by as many people as they can, and as long as the puppy seems happy and comfortable.

We should have done this every day, and we should have invited friends over all the time to the house to cuddle and play with him. We did puppy daycare and socials and that was good for his connection with other dogs, but we didn’t have him spend nearly enough time around people.


Mistake #3:

We didn’t handle him enough

Handling is another one of those nebulous words that, until you have actually owned a dog, is very hard to understand.

Yes we looked at his ears, we held his paws, we stuck our fingers in his mouth and touched his teeth. He seemed ok and we kind of left it at that.

What we didn’t understand was that handling needs to be done continually, especially when they’re young, to get them so used to being handled they barely notice it, to give them so many treats they hopefully even can enjoy it, or at least tolerate it knowing they get lots of goodies.

We should have:

  • Touched his paws thoroughly, feeling the nails and paw pads

  • Looked all through his fur everywhere on his body to simulate looking for ticks or foxtails

  • Put our fingers in his mouth to brush his teeth

  • Cleaned his ears often.

Since we didn’t do it enough when he was young, the poor guy looks at handling as more of a scary experience that is done when something is wrong, though oddly he doesn’t mind having his ears and mouth touched.


Mistake #4:

We didn’t Give enough affection

This is a hard one because who is to say what is “enough” affection?

But again we were under the Cesar brainwashing and believing that affection should be given after exercise and discipline, and that part of what could make crate training difficult was the constant handling of puppies until bedtime and then putting them in their crate all alone.

I believe now that there was a better balance we could have found of cuddle time and crate time. I welcome thoughts on this from trainers and other dog-owners.


Mistake #5:

he slept in the other room

This is a matter of personal taste of course, but I spent 4 nights with Boo Boo sleeping in his crate next to me, and then we moved his crate into the living room.

He did great and actually loved his crate but were I to do it again, I would keep his crate in the bedroom from the beginning, and then transition him to sleeping on our bed.

I think the closer our dogs are to us physically the stronger the bond.