If you want to raise your puppy to be as happy and healthy as you can, there are a few things you should never do to your puppy. Doing any of the things listed below risks damaging your relationship with your puppy as well as harming your puppy mentally and physically.
DON’T: Physically Punish Your Puppy
Puppies (and dogs of all ages) learn best through positive reinforcement. Hitting, kicking, spanking, and dragging your puppy risks physical and mental damage. All your puppy will learn through a physical punishment is that YOU are scary and should be avoided, rather than learning what you actually want them to do instead. Whenever you find yourself wanting your puppy to stop doing something, ask yourself “What do I want my puppy to do instead?” You can then use positive reinforcement to teach the new behavior you want!
DON’T: Use Crates as a Punishment
Crates should be a safe place where your puppy is comfortable and relaxed. It might be tempting to put your puppy in their crate as a punishment, but it can undo all the hard work you’ve put in teaching your puppy that their crate is a fun place to be! There are times that a crate can be helpful, such as if your puppy is biting because they’re too tired and throwing a “puppy tantrum,” but it’s best to put your puppy in the crate in a neutral manner and give them a chew toy when you do so in order to avoid teaching them that the crate is a punishment.
DON’T: Wipe Your Puppy’s Nose in Their Pee
Wiping your puppy’s nose in their accidents used to be a commonly recommended training method when housebreaking your puppy. However, it’s often been shown to create dogs that simply don’t like to eliminate in front of their owner. Wiping their nose in accidents or showing them accidents and yelling tells them that you don’t like seeing puppy pee or poop, and makes it harder to teach a puppy to eliminate on a leash in front of you and also encourages the puppy to hide their accidents around the house.
DON’T: Force Your Puppy in the Name of Socialization
When puppies are going through their socialization period, they have overlapping fear periods as well. This means that as our puppy learns what is safe, they also learn what is NOT safe. Allowing puppies to observe from a safe distance and using treats to make your puppy feel more comfortable is the best way to socialize your puppy. If you force your puppy into a situation they are scared of to try and help your puppy “get over it,” you will risk your puppy being too overwhelmed and potentially scared of that situation or thing for life.
DON’T: Use Dominance Training
Dominance is a debunked theory of dog training. Many of the methods used in training under the dominance theory will cause your puppy to be fearful and “shut down” instead. Alpha rolls (pinning your puppy to the ground), holding your puppy’s mouth shut when they nip, or scruffing your puppy as a punishment are all training methods known to cause physical or mental problems in puppies.