Who hasn’t dreamed about having the perfect puppy? He would be not only cute as a button but also well-mannered. He would never mess the house, never bark unnecessarily and never, ever jump up on the furniture or your Aunt Mathilda.

I hate to disappoint you, but there is no such thing. Puppies, like children, make a lot of mistakes and do a lot of stupid stuff. That does not mean, however, that having a well-mannered pup – or child, for that matter – is impossible. With caring, patient training, you can gradually teach your puppy to be a well-behaved, happy member of your family. At the same time, you will lay the foundation for a kind, loving, respectful relationship between you and your dog.

However, dog owners make a number of common mistakes which can take a lot of the fun out of an otherwise “pawsome” relationship. Read on.

Take him on car rides – but not only to the vet!

Teach your dog that car rides are not only for trips to the vet. Take him to the park, to a friend’s house or to the store as well.  Give him a tasty treat for behaving in the car. And don’t forget to praise him after the car ride.

He needs to get used to being handled.

Unfortunately, many dogs do not like being handled. That could be problematic, because your dog will have to be handled from time to time. Bath time and visits to the vet, for instance, can become ordeals if your dog is uncooperative. You need to get him used to this when he is young. Strike while the iron is hot, so to speak.

Canine paw care is a good place to start your training. A dog’s paws are often very sensitive. Thus, many pups do not like it when you touch their paws. Handle-train your doggie by gently cleaning his paws or filing his nails early on. (Do not attempt to clip his nails unless you really know what you are doing!) It will make him feel comfortable with handling and give you fewer behavioral problems in the future. You, your dog, and your vet  will be glad that you did.

Expose your puppy to different people, places and other animals as early as you can.

Early socialization prevents a wide variety of aggressive and anxious behaviors.

Your puppy has to have a balanced diet of dog nutrition prescribed by the vet.

If you can swing it, do not allow him to hang around the dining table during family meals. If that is simply not possible, at least do not toss him scraps from your plate. Doing this will teach him to beg for food, a habit which many people find very offputting. (And who wants a tacky dog? ; )) What’s worse, this could teach him an unhealthy habit, possibly resulting in digestion issues and even obesity.

Dogs do not understand words; they understand body language.

When your dog does not do something that you ask him to do, it is not because he is defying you. It is almost certainly because he doesn’t understand what you expect of him. After all, your dog wants to please you with all his heart. Spanking, hitting and yelling are not only cruel but also counterproductive. Aggressive behavior on your part will only make him confused and scared. When treated so unkindly, some dogs will even resort to aggression. Instead, give him rewards for good behavior and shower him with praise. He will love you for it. Really.

Remember that dogs are social animals and do not like being alone.

Leaving your puppy alone for long periods of time can cause behavioral and socialization problems. If you cannot be home for several hours, consider asking a family member or colleague to drop by to check on your pup every now and then. It would be best if someone came over to feed him and let him out to do his business in the yard.

Remember that your puppy’s behavior and performance depends on his training.

So, it all comes back to you and your willingness to be a kind, patient trainer for your pup. And remember: you cannot expect him to become a perfectly behaved dog overnight. Be patient and above all do not put yourself or your dog under time pressure. That will make the training a source of frustration for you and spoil the fun for your dog. Moreover, a stressed dog does not learn well. Be patient and enjoy the learning process with your pup.

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