Five biggest mistakes new puppy guardians make

My clients often hire me to help rehabilitate their dog's problems. Sometimes they recently adopted an older dog that already has behavior problems, while others have had their dogs since they were puppies and were lax in one or more areas that resulted in behavior problems forming over a period of time.

One reason why this is a common problem is because all dogs develop differently. You might have had multiplie dogs from puppy to adulthood and never did any preventative work with any of them in the past. Even though you raised your current dog exactly the same way as your others, he now has a behavioral problem. I don't consider myself a pessimist, but I always assume the worst with dog development to insure that I am doing everything possible to prevent  problems before they get out of control.

It is an investment in your dog's future. Put the time in now and you will increase the chances that you will have many years of enjoyable experiences and much lower stress.

Insufficient Socialization. This is the most important task to focus on when working with a new puppy. The time-sensitive socialization period for puppies extends until approximately 18-20 weeks of age. During this time, your puppy will form associations with new people, sounds, smells, and events. If you spend enough time socializing your dog during this time, he will be a confident older dog. Read more about socialization here.

Not Practicing Separation Anxiety Prevention. Separation anxiety is the most challenging dog training topic to overcome. A dog that has separation anxiety has panic attacks when alone. The reason this is so challenging to treat is because dogs can regress if they are alone for a longer period of time than they can handle during treatment. For instance, if you work with your dog and get him comfortable with being alone for 30 minutes and you leave for two hours, he could regress and start to have a panic attack after only 10 or 15 minutes next time. Read more about separation anxiety prevention here.

Not using the Crate Enough. This is one of the most talked about puppy topics. Many people feel guilty about using the crate and resist doing it or don't use it enough. The crate, when used properly, is the best tool for efficiently housetraining your dog, preventing destruction, and preventing separation anxiety. Read more about crate training here.

Not Practicing Resource Guarding Prevention. Resource guarding occurs when a dog guards something around him and shows aggression. Resources can include bones, toys, food bowls, locations or people. This is treatable, but it is much easier to prevent. Read more about resource guarding prevention here.

Not Preventing Barking. Barking can be triggered for many reasons including aggression, alerting, fear, or demand behaviors. It is important to curb barking as soon as possible so it doesn't become a long-term problem. Read more about demand barking here. Read about barking at noises here. Read about barking out of windows here.
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