You fell in love with a cute little pup and brought it home. And now, you can’t wait to cuddle and hang out with your new four-legged friend. But dogs are not just big puppy eyes and fluffy fur. If you don’t provide them with constant guidance, consistent training and sufficient exercise, they can make your life quite difficult. Here are the 5 most common mistakes new dog owners make. Avoid them, and you will be well on your way to having a nicely behaved pet that truly is a joy to be around.
Dogs and democracy don’t mix. Democracy is just not part of the pet world. If you want your dog to be well-behaved and to become an acceptable member of the family, he must be last in hierarchy of social order.
#2 No house rules
Sometimes we bring a dog home and unhook the leash without any thought about what we want him to do or not do. Sometimes we even allow him to do something for a couple weeks and then change the rules and decide we don’t want him to do it anymore. This creates confusion and sets the dog up for failure, not success.
“Decide what the dog will and will not be allowed to do”
Before you bring a new dog into the house, sit down with your family (or other people in the house – e.g. housekeeper, babysitter) and decide what the dog will and will not be allowed to do. Choose where the dog will sleep, if it can be on the furniture, when it will be fed, walked and by whom. Setting the rules and making sure everyone follows them is a big key to success.
#3 Giving unconditional affection
Do dogs enjoy human affection? Yes, they do. But dogs need not only human affection to become balanced and happy. Dogs actually desire structure and discipline more than they desire human affection. They need leadership and rules, not just touch and affection. If you can manage to balance love and discipline, your dog will be happy.
#4 Afraid to say “no”
Cute goes a long way with humans. We tend to let cute things get away with practically anything. New dog owners often think their tiny puppy trying to jump on them for attention is just adorable – who can say ‘no’ to that? However, when your grown-up lab still jumps up on you after some months or years, it won’t be so cute.
“Dogs desire structure and discipline more than they desire human affection”
Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to your dog and to set limits and enforce these limits with consequences. Keep in mind how big your dog will be and whether or not you want those “cute” behaviors to continue past puppyhood. If not, do not let them continue now.
#5 Thinking he’ll grow out of it
It’s not unusual for dog owners to think “I can’t wait till he grows out of it.” However, the truth is, dogs do not grow out of bad behaviors. In fact, if you don’t stop bad behavior, it will get worse. Remember your dog doesn’t know that digging up the flowers, chasing the cat, and barking at night is wrong. He’s not going to stop unless you tell him to and give him a reason to through reinforcement.