Puppies are adorable, that’s just a fact. When it comes to puppy behavior, some are absolute angels, while others act like little monsters! If your new puppy falls into the angel category, and you feel like they’ll always be that way… Read this article! We’re going to talk about the number 1 training mistake that new puppy owners make, and how to avoid making that mistake yourself.
What is the puppy bubble trap?
“My puppy used to be so well-behaved… Now they’re a terror!” We hear this story a lot when people contact us for help with their puppy’s behavioral problems. When the puppy reaches 8 to 12 months of age, not-so-perfect behaviors start to show their face.
This very common experience comes down to a puppy training mistake that’s a very easy trap to fall into: We call it “the trap of the puppy bubble”. Here’s how it works:
You bring a new puppy into your home and he’s a perfect bundle of joy. You feel as though everything is going awesomely when it comes to his behavior, so you assume that your job is done.
Your pup is so easy to care for: you just take him out a few times a day to go potty and give him a bowl of food each day! Training your perfect puppy seems unnecessary, so you stop the education process after the early puppyhood period.
What happens if you fall into the trap?
Puppy owners who fall into the puppy bubble trap are suddenly faced with an unrecognizable pup who doesn’t listen, tears up the furniture, and seems completely out of control. Here are some negative behaviors that falling into this trap can cause:
In the beginning, you are the center of your puppy’s universe. And that feels great! All they want to do is cuddle up in your lap and get affection from you. This is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your puppy and experience the joy that a dog can bring to your life.
But you start to realize as your puppy gets a bit older – they hate to be away from you. When you have to leave the house, even for a short time, they get stressed out and start to tear up their bedding, go potty inside, and bark relentlessly.
Separation anxiety can often get so severe that a puppy doesn’t even feel comfortable being in a different room from their owner. This overly-attached mindset can cause a lot of stress for both the dog and the owner, and it results from falling into the puppy bubble trap!
Having a new puppy is a wonderful way to meet people in your neighborhood because everyone wants to stop and pet him! After all, he is the cutest puppy in the entire world. Your pup loves being the center of attention and comes to expect praise and love from everyone around him.
Then you realize that your puppy is a little too excited to meet new people, other dogs, and even squirrels. So excited that when you’re trying to train him, he gets very easily distracted and darts off chasing his new friend.
Being easily distracted not only makes training difficult, but it can also be very dangerous for both you and the puppy. He could run into traffic trying to meet a person across the street, or pull on the leash so hard you fall over. And it could have all been avoided if you didn’t fall into the puppy bubble trap!
Not coming when called
At this point, your puppy definitely knows his name. And you figure that because he knows his name so well, there’s no point in continuing any name-related training, right? Wrong!
Teaching your puppy to come to you when you call his name, no matter what is going on around you, is a very important part of training. You need to be sure that even if there’s another dog to play with or a ball to chase, he’ll choose to come when he’s called. In dog obedience training, we call this “recall”.
A lot of people contact us about their pups deciding that it’s more fun to play than to listen. This is another sure sign that a puppy hasn’t been given enough training in early puppyhood.
Jumping on people
Early on, your puppy learns that jumping on people is a great way to say hello. People scream in delight and shower him with attention and love. It seems completely harmless and cute to allow this behavior. After all, he’s just a tiny little puppy.
But jumping on people isn’t as cute when your pup has grown to be 50 pounds. In fact, it can be dangerous – if your dog jumped on a small child or an elderly person, he could push them to the ground and hurt them.
There we go. Before you know it, you have created a dog that’s the opposite of your dream dog. But don’t be hard on yourself – it’s an incredibly easy mistake to make. And now you know better!
How to avoid getting caught in the puppy bubble trap
If all of these behavioral problems sound like a handful, don’t panic! Here are 3 tips for how to avoid making the biggest mistake in puppy training.
Understand your role in the behavior
It’s easy to get frustrated at your dog behaving badly and to want to punish him. But consider this: you have actually taught all this to your puppy. You have reinforced certain negative behaviors without meaning to, and your dog is only behaving how he thinks you want him to.
You may not realize it, but your pup is learning every moment of every day. The world is brand new in a puppy’s eyes, and how you train them makes a difference in the way they see things. Your puppy learns from every interaction he has with you, so it’s essential to educate yourself on the messages you’re giving your pup during day-to-day interactions.
Don’t wait until your pup’s behavior has become too much to handle. Instead, teach him essential skills from the moment you bring him into your home. Reinforce good behaviors and redirect negative ones by showing them what to do instead.
Dogs, by their very nature, want to please their humans in any way they can, so they’ll quickly pick up on which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Treats, praise, and patience will go a long way toward creating a happy and well-behaved dog.
Integrate training with everyday life
Because puppies learn every second of every day, make training part of your pup’s day-to-day activities. Use every opportunity to either reinforce or redirect your dog’s behaviors, in a variety of situations. That way, all his training won’t go out the window as soon as he sees a squirrel.
Start your pup out on the right foot
Even if your puppy is a little angel at first, don’t let him fool you into the puppy bubble trap! Reward him for his good behavior and actively educate him on what behaviors are expected. This will avoid major behavioral problems down the track.
Our OneMind Dogs puppy program helps your puppy build up the most important everyday skills gradually, without overwhelming them. By practicing with your pup for just 10 minutes a day, you’ll bring training into your daily routine and have the well-behaved dog of your dreams. Get started today, before it’s too late!
Register for our popular webinar: 5 Common puppy problems and how to prevent them