7 Mistakes to Avoid When Puppy Training

Almost nothing in this world could be more joyous than bringing home a new puppy. However, in all the excitement surrounding a furry new addition to the family, you may be making training mistakes that could come back to bite you.


Even the most well-meaning and loving pet parents can make mistakes when training puppies for the first time. After all, not everyone is a trained and experienced dog trainer like the experts at Unleash Fido!


However, while some mistakes are minor bumps on your dog training journey, others can negatively impact your puppy’s behavior, causing the development of harmful habits that are difficult to unlearn. That’s why it’s crucial to take the utmost care when training a new puppy.


Here are seven common dog training mistakes you should avoid at all costs.


puppy training


1. Not Beginning Training Right Away 


Some people wait a month or two before training their puppy, thinking they should give it time to settle into its new environment first. However, this is a mistake. Ideally, puppy training in Florida should start as soon as your dog comes home with you.


Reputable breeders typically let puppies come home with their new owners when they’re eight to 10 weeks old. At this age, your new four-legged friend is curious, playful and ready to be potty-trained. It can also learn basic commands like:


  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Leave It


An eight- to 10-week-old puppy can also be crate-trained for short periods. It can also be introduced to a leash.


2. Being Too Harsh 


Sadly, using aggressive training techniques is among the most common dog training mistakes among new puppy owners.


Some self-described “trainers” on TV and online claim that aggressive techniques such as yelling, staring down, leash jerking and grabbing to “assert dominance” over the puppies they’re training. However, reputable dog trainers agree that harsh methods like these are ineffective and based on outdated, disproved research on wolves and dogs.


Harsh discipline and aggressive training methods can be incredibly harmful to a developing puppy. They result in anxious dogs, and fearful dogs are hard to train. Also, a scared dog can become aggressive, putting its owner and other people in danger.


Puppies are, in fact, more likely to respond to positive reinforcement. They think of their owners as their family and are happy to perform for praise, treats and other rewards.


3. Making Training Sessions Too Long 


Many puppy training guides online say that sessions should be short. However, people often interpret “short” to mean “30 minutes” or “an hour.”


For a very young puppy with the attention span of a human toddler, 30 minutes to an hour can seem like an eternity! So, during your first training sessions, aim to teach training cues or skills for more than a couple of minutes at a time, and have only a few sessions a day. You can gradually increase each session’s duration as the puppy ages.


With training, timing is everything. Make learning easier for your pet by ensuring the environment is conducive to the lesson. For instance, teach “exciting” skills like fetching a toy in the daytime when your puppy is active and energetic. In the early evening, when your pup feels calm and the house is quieter, you can teach more “restful” skills like going to the crate.


Another essential thing to remember is that training your puppy isn’t confined to these structured sessions. In fact, training happens all the time, even when you might not be aware of it. See the next common puppy training mistake for an example.


4. Reinforcing Negative Behavior


Without knowing it, new dog owners often train their puppies to do the exact thing they don’t want them to do.


Consider the following hypothetical situation.


Billie’s Newfoundland puppy Rover wants her attention. To get it, Rover jumps on Billie’s lap. Billie gently pushes him off, laughing, “No, Rover! Down!”


From Billie’s perspective, it might seem like she had simply pushed Rover off. However, from Rover’s perspective, he got exactly what he wanted: Billie’s attention! So, the next time he wants a human to notice him, he knows that all he needs to do is jump on their lap.


While this might seem cute and harmless while Rover is a puppy, it won’t be in a year—When Rover is a 120-lb dog jumping on the elderly lady next door because he wants treats.


It is crucial to be mindful of your puppy’s behavior and how you respond to it. Otherwise, you might reinforce bad habits, which they could take with them to adulthood.


5. Accidentally Poisoning Cues 


A “poisoned cue” is a command a dog may associate with unpleasant things.


Consider this situation:


You have successfully taught your puppy to come to you with the verbal cue “Come here!” Your puppy understands that when you use that cue, it should come to you and that you are likely to cuddle it, give it a treat or praise it.


One day, however, you tell your puppy to “Come here!”. However, instead of the positive experience it expects, it gets its nails clipped, an activity it hates. On another day, you ask it to “Come here!” and then give it a bath.


Your puppy becomes confused about the cue. It no longer knows what to expect when you say, “Come here!” As a result, the next time you give the command, it may no longer obey.


When you first start training your puppy, avoid using recall cues like “Come here!” concerning activities your dog doesn’t like.


6. Instilling Bad Bathroom Habits


One of the common dog training mistakes new owners make when potty training their puppies is scolding them when they have an “accident” indoors. While puppy pee or poo on the hardwood floor or new carpet is understandably upsetting, keeping calm is important.


This is because yelling at or scolding your puppy when you discover its mess can cause it to misinterpret your frustration. Puppies don’t have the same sense of time as humans do, and instead of understanding that you’re upset that they did their business indoors, your puppy might think you’re mad because it did its business where you could see it.


So the next time it needs to go potty, your puppy might end up doing its business somewhere you won’t easily spot it—Like under your bed, in a closet or behind the sofa.


To prevent future indoor messes, set your puppy up for success by setting a potty schedule based on their age.


Generally, a puppy can hold it for an hour for every month of age. So, if your puppy is two months old, it can go between potty breaks for two hours. 


This means you should take it outside every two hours as well as:


  • First thing in the morning and last thing at night
  • After eating or drinking
  • During and after playing


7. Repeating Commands


If you’ve ever felt your puppy was ignoring your commands, you’re not alone. Many new dog owners, faced with a bored puppy in training, repeat cues repeatedly to get it to respond.


This is called “cue nagging,” and it’s one of the most common mistakes in dog training. Here’s an example:


John has taught his new puppy, Bella, to “Sit.” However, Bella is frequently distracted whenever John uses the command and usually ignores him. Frustrated, John often ends up repeating the command: “Sit, sit, sit, SIT, SIT!”


Eventually, Bella stops responding to the cue “Sit” unless John says it five consecutive times.  


As you can see, cue nagging is frustrating for the dog owner. It can also create training problems for the dog down the road. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid giving commands when your puppy is distracted. 


Always say a cue just once and wait for the puppy to respond. If it doesn’t, it might need a play break, and you can try again later when it’s had time to relax.


Set Your Puppy Up for a Lifetime of Positive Habits and Behavior


In the fun yet challenging journey of puppy training, it’s easy to stumble into common mistakes that can hinder your furry friend’s progress. To prevent this, you need patience, consistency and the guidance of experts in dog behavior and training.


Unleash Fido is here to assist you. Our experienced and caring trainers love dogs and are dedicated to supporting puppies as they develop into well-behaved and happy canine companions.


Let us help your puppies put their best paws forward. Contact us today to learn more about our Puppy Foundation training classes in Jacksonville, FL.