Six mistakes to avoid when getting a puppy for the first time
Owning a dog for the first time can be very exciting – but also a bit daunting. Not many people are prepared for how difficult it can be to housetrain a pup or even get them to come back when they are called! I can remember when it felt like perhaps my pup would never stop peeing on the rug or chewing all my shoes but he finally did! Sometimes you need to stop and look back to realise just how far you’ve come.
Which is why, this week we’ve got six mistakes to avoid when getting a puppy for the first time:
1. Choosing the wrong breed
Now when we say this, we don’t mean that some breeds are ‘wrong,’ simply that not all breeds are right for everyone and it’s important to get a dog that suits your lifestyle. Don’t buy a dog just because it will look good on your Instagram, or because your friend has one.
If you love hiking and getting out in nature, choose a high-energy dog happy-go-lucky dog – and if you like to lounge about and chill at home, choose a furry couch potato!
It’s important to remember that many pure-bred dogs are acting on instinct. If you choose a working dog as a pet you need to understand that these breeds need mental stimulation and love having a ‘job’ to do. Labradors live to fetch, huskies love to run and collies are always on alert and enjoy problem solving. These intelligent working breeds can also be hard work as puppies but will eventually settle down to make great pets.
Dachshunds and corgis may look cute but the former were bred to hunt and kill badgers and the latter are designed to herd cattle. Make sure your dog gets to fulfil their natural instincts (or a substitute for this, as no one wants to see any badgers get hurt here, and you may not have any cattle to hand). Do plenty of research before you get your puppy. Most breeds (and mixed breeds like cockapoos) have groups online that you can join and talk to owners about the characteristics of the breed to find out if they are right for you – and some have real-life meet ups too which can be tremendous fun once you do decide which type of pup is best for you.
Even if you have had your heart set on a certain breed all your life – you need to accept that they might not fit your lifestyle so make sure you get the dog that works for you and your family.
Husky pup photo by Pixabay on Pexels
2. Avoiding puppy training classes
You might think that your dog doesn’t need formal training but – especially if you haven’t owned a dog before – it is very important. Puppy training classes are crucial for socialising and training your dog and can prevent them from developing bad habits or behavioural issues. You should think of it as a pre-emptive tool, giving them a good foundation for learning, rather than something you do to correct problems that may emerge further down the line.
3. Being inconsistent
However much your dog is making those puppy dog eyes at you, if you’ve decided you’re not going to feed them from your plate (and it really is a good idea not to) then you have to be consistent otherwise you will be sending them mixed messages about what is or isn’t acceptable behaviour and you can also be setting them up for bad habits like begging or jumping up on the table and helping themselves!
Make sure you keep the same rules for yourself as you do with guests and the rest of your family, so if you don’t want your dog to jump up and lick your guests faces, don’t let them jump up and lick yours and make sure that everyone is on board and treating your dog consistently as well.
Dachshund puppy photo by Lukas Kloeppel on Pexels
4. Skipping socialisation
You can see the effects of what happens when a dog is not well-socialised with people and other dogs if you meet a ‘lockdown puppy’ raised at home during the worst days of Covid-19 here in the UK. It’s really important for your dog to get used to different situations, people, pets and places, to help avoid issues with anxiety, aggression and fear further down the line.
5. Never leaving them alone
You need to start leaving your dog home alone from a young age – for short periods of time at first and then gradually building it up – if you want to avoid serious problems in the future. Like socialisation, this is another problem exacerbated by lockdowns and everyone working from home and many lockdown pups have separation anxiety if they are left for any period of time. If you work from home anyway, then you need to make some time to train your dog to be left otherwise you’ll never be able to nip out to the shops or have an evening out without Fido in tow!
Retriever pups photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels
6. Ignoring their body language
Dogs are incredibly expressive creatures and you can tell an awful lot about what’s going on from their body language. If you haven’t owned a pup before then it is crucially important to read up on body language and learn to listen and respond to what they are trying to tell you. A good rule to follow is that if your dog isn’t expressing their usual happy body language, looking relaxed or wagging their tail when you speak to them, this could be a cue that they are unhappy or would like to get way from wherever or whatever it is you are doing.
So that’s our lowdown for this week. Do you think we missed anything important? Perhaps you made some mistakes with your first pup that you would like other people to avoid? As always, let us know in the comments section below!