Common Puppy Mistakes: 20 Things Your Dog Hates

Key Points

  • Common puppy mistakes are easy to make and even easier to avoid.

  • Patience and compassion are key to dog training and allow you to overcome many mistakes.

  • Common puppy mistakes include yelling, feeding your pup table scraps, and expecting too much too soon.

Young canines are a handful, and it's easy for you to make common puppy mistakes in their early years. Dog training is trial and error; some things work, and others don't. It all depends on your dog's personality and your ability to train them.

Common puppy mistakes include improper training, inconsistent training, and improper feeding, just to name a few. Knowing what mistakes to avoid and possible solutions to overcome them helps you and your dog.

puppy looking up

20 Things You Do That Your Dog Hates

Hate is a strong word, but there are some things your dog really, really doesn't like. Understand how to improve your dog's training and allow them to develop into obedient pups.

Check out the following actions to avoid with your puppy.

Ignore Them

Your puppy doesn't like being ignored. Sometimes you are better off giving your pup the cold shoulder, but only to discipline them.

Your puppy needs constant attention and supervision. They don't understand what they can and can't get into. They see your entire home as free range. They run around and get into every nook and cranny as they explore the new treasures of your home.

Your puppy loves the attention you give them and fights for it when you refuse to acknowledge them.

Say your dog wants to play, but you're too tuckered out even to try. They run up to you, bring you a ball, or tug on your pant legs. What do you do?

If you ignore them, your dog continues to bark, bite, and become frustrated. Let them know they're still your best pal, even if it's only some affectionate pats and kind words.

Overwhelm Them

Your puppy doesn't understand the world around them. Every smell, sound, touch, and encounter is a brand-new experience for them. It's easy to overwhelm your puppy, especially if you don't monitor their activity levels.

How many dogs or other pets do you have in the home? How many other family members do you live with?

Bringing a new dog into your living space is fun, but they need time to get comfortable with their surroundings. Block them off from the other animals in your home and give them a few hours per day together until your pup settles in.

Give each person their own time with the dog to create a bond, rather than let everyone come together and overwhelm your canine.


There is going to be a time when yelling seems justifiable. Maybe your pup gets into the trash and litters garbage all over your white sofa. They don't know any better. To them, they hit the jackpot, utterly unaware of the messes they create.

Take a few deep breaths and remember, they're new to this world.

Puppies are more in tune with their instincts. They don't have the conditioning and training they receive as they age. Give them grace and train them early on.

Your dog doesn't know what's correct or understand what you expect of them without proper training.

Training Without Compassion

Compassion goes a long way with puppies. Young dogs don't respond well to fear tactics or harsh punishments because they don't understand what you expect of them.

Act with compassion anytime your dog does something wrong. Use the moment as a lesson and enforce their training. Spend a few minutes to show them what they did wrong and how you want them to behave going forward. Use positive reinforcement such as treats or physical affection to affirm good behavior.

Too much restriction in your puppy's routine or training removes their quality of life. You are their teacher, the leader of their pack, and not a military drill sergeant.

Ignoring Their Dental Health

Puppies, like children, need their teeth cleaned periodically. Your puppy needs their first cleaning when they are two to three years old. Check your dog's teeth as they transition from a puppy into an adult.

Did you know that dogs have two sets of teeth? Expect to see baby teeth scattered around your home as your pup grows.

As your dog's teeth fall out and come in, it's essential to monitor their dental hygiene to ensure everything functions properly.

Inconsistent Training

Your new puppy needs consistent training. Inconsistent guidance fails to teach your dog how to behave appropriately.

Imagine you learn to speak a second language. Your teacher only speaks in the second language every few classes and doesn't provide enough time for you to learn it. This is similar to how a dog learns.

Train your dog daily, and reinforce their conditioning whenever your pup acts up.

Not sure if your training is consistent enough? One way to tell is that your dog's new behaviors don't stick.

Don't be afraid to spend extra time with your canine. The sooner they learn the appropriate behavior, the less time you spend teaching them.

Painful Punishments

Positive reinforcement is the best way to teach your dog and enforce good behavior. Painful or inhumane punishment only teaches your dog to be afraid of you and causes distress.

Animals feel pain, lose trust, and develop fear just as humans do. Don't use forceful methods to train your pup that can sacrifice your ability to create a strong bond with them.

There's a time and place for discipline, but it doesn't have to be traumatic. For example, say your dog behaves badly and doesn't listen to your commands, even with positive reinforcement. Put them in a time-out until they calm down. This shows them they are in trouble, and you don't have to use painful punishments.


Puppies are little furballs of excitement. Their excitable nature makes it easy to overstimulate them.

Don't introduce them to too many people simultaneously, keep music and television audio at a comfortable level, and don't bring them into chaotic environments.

Your puppy needs a comfortable environment and stability to feel safe and secure. As your pup ages, it's easier to introduce them to hectic or more robust environments and experiences.

Work your way up to stimulating experiences and slowly introduce them to new people, places, and sounds.

puppy running outside

Walks Without Freedom

Have you taught your dog to walk with you? Walks are an excellent time to bond with your pup and enforce new training behaviors.

Your pup may not be happy if you try to take away their freedom of exploration on your walks. How your walks go is up to you. If you do them regularly, it's best to keep them interesting for your pup.

Let them sniff new trees occasionally without taking you off course. Yes, it's important to show your pet you're in control on walks; otherwise, they take the lead and investigate every stimulus along the route.

Find a balance that allows you and your dog to have an enjoyable walk with structure.


Dogs are social creatures. Your new puppy wants to hang out with other people and pets. Take time each day to spend quality time with your pet.

Your puppy is energetic, and they release that energy around others. If you isolate your dog alone, they use their pent-up energy negatively, such as eating garbage, chewing furniture, and rummaging through your belongings.

Not Enough Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is your best resource for puppy training. Forms of positive reinforcement include food, physical affection, or toys. You don't know what your dog responds well to until you test a few methods.

Most dogs enjoy all forms of positive reinforcement, but yours may only respond to food, toys, or something unique to their personalities.

Dog trainer Alli Bennett says her philosophy on dog training focuses on meeting your dog where they're at in their behavioral training.

"I prefer to look at each dog I work with as an individual and develop the best training plan from there. There is no cookie-cutter way to train every dog," Bennett says. "It’s always ideal to start with positive reinforcement, but I think it’s important for dog trainers to keep a large toolbox. Just like people, dogs also learn best by various methods."

Use a positive reinforcement training method to teach your dog that good behavior receives a reward and bad behavior receives nothing. Your training goes much faster when you include reinforcement measures, as it gives your dog an incentive and teaches them quickly and effectively.

You Don't Use Conditioning

If this is your first time training a pup, you want to know what conditioning is. Conditioning bulletproofs your dog's training and their ability to understand and follow commands.

You can't just throw a few commands around and expect them to stick. Your dog needs frequent assurance and training for new behavior patterns to solidify.

There are two types of conditioning in dog training. Classical conditioning uses stimuli to teach your dog out of their involuntary reactions. For example, say your dog barks anytime the doorbell rings. Classical conditioning uses a whistle or bell as your dog barks, teaching them to refrain from doing the behavior.

Operant conditioning refers to your dog's voluntary behavior and the following consequence. For example, to teach your dog to sit, you give them a treat anytime they perform the position.

pupping getting nails clipped

Not Clipping Their Nails

Your puppy's nails grow fast. Their nails need special attention to make sure they're at a comfortable level. A healthy nail length is especially beneficial for wooden floors so your pup doesn't slide around and lose traction.

You probably know that cutting your dog's nails isn't necessarily easy. You may luck out with a pup that doesn't mind having their nails cut, but chances are your dog puts up a fight.

Teach your pet early on that it's safe and comfortable for them to have their nails cut. They put up resistance at first, but like everything else, with enough repetition, they learn to accept their fate and allow you to give them their monthly "puppicure."


Don't bore your puppy! You risk boredom any time you leave your pet alone for too long. Your puppy's short attention span requires constant stimulation.

Lick mats are a fun way to keep your dog happy. Fill lick mats with food, treats, and broth-like liquids and freeze them afterward. Give the frozen mat to your dog, and let them lick it clean.

Enrichment bowls are another tool to keep your dog at ease. These bowls contain intricate designs where food and kibble fall through. Your dog devises a strategic way to get all the food out and keep them engaged for the entire meal.

Enrichment mats are a must-have if your dog has stomach issues or is prone to choking during meals.


Do you want to take your dogs on walks? Do you plan to let them tag along while you run errands?

If so, don't forget to bring a dog bowl to hydrate your pup. There are portable dog bowls that allow you to bring water with you wherever you go.

Puppies need proper hydration, especially in warm weather. Periodically stop throughout your day to give your dog a water break regardless of whether they are panting.

Let Children Handle Them

Children love puppies just as much as you do. It's easy to get swept up in the moment and let a small child handle a puppy. While children have a special bond with puppies, never leave them alone with the dog without proper supervision.

Children don't understand how delicate puppies are. They want to squeeze and hug a small dog and share their excitement. It is important to monitor children with your puppy for a few reasons.

First, puppies are fragile. You don't want anything to happen to their well-being.

Children may drop, throw, or toss a pup, thinking they are playing when your dog is afraid. This creates unnecessary stress and potential injury that are easily avoidable.

Another reason is that you do not know your dog's temperament around children. Some puppies adore children and want nothing more than to play with them. Others may not like them and lash out if they try to pick them up.

Puppies don't know how to hold back their playful bites and may injure a child accidentally.

Regardless of the child, keep an eye on them as they play with your new dog. Step in if you notice anything concerning.

brown lap looking up with blue eyes

You Feed Them Anything

It's easy to use your dog as your personal garbage disposal anytime you order too much takeout. Your dog doesn't say no to table scraps, but that doesn't mean it's beneficial for them.

Dogs have different dietary needs than you and don't tolerate certain foods. They may even be allergic to normally appropriate foods, such as pork, chicken, or eggs.

Food allergies are one of the main reasons not to feed your dog just anything.

Dogs eat fast. Where do you think the term "wolf down your food" came from? Sometimes, you're not even sure they have enough time to taste the food before it goes down. Certain foods are difficult for your dog to eat quickly, increasing their chance of choking.

Puppies also have sensitive stomachs. Food they tolerate in their later years may upset their young stomachs.

Keep your dog on a strict, puppy-specific diet, and don't feed them anything you're unsure about.

There are people foods that your puppy can eat.

Do you prefer to cook your dog's food at home? Rice, protein, sweet potatoes, and certain vegetables do wonders for your growing pup. The key is not to feed them processed foods or anything they are allergic to.

You Expect Too Much Too Soon

Your puppy doesn't progress through their training in a straight line. One minute they follow your commands and the next, it's like they've never heard you speak those words before.

It's natural for your dog to learn at their own pace and sometimes go back to their old ways. Don't get too upset if this happens. Have patience and understand that your dog eventually mellows out with enough time and commitment to their training.

If you expect too much too soon, you set your dog up for failure and you for disappointment. Go into the experience of training your dog with an open mind. Know the behaviors and commands you want them to achieve but don't put a timeframe or limit yourself on when the new behaviors need to develop.

Your dog is unique with their own personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Just because your previous dog learned quickly doesn't mean your current pup does.

yellow and black puppy lying together

Too Many Rules Early On

Let your puppy be a puppy. They want to explore the world.

Enforcing too many rules early in your dog's training isn't effective or beneficial for their progress.

Think of your training as a furniture assembly manual. Your dog needs time to walk through each step and sometimes circle back to redo a step. Imagine you open a manual and try to do everything simultaneously; you can't do it! Information overload. The "instructions" become the "corrections."

Give your dog enough tools to follow the rules at their own pace. Add new rules as they progress throughout their development.

You Take Away Their Toys

Your dog's toys are their treasures. Toys give your pup satisfaction and relieve their urge to nibble.

Try not to take your pup's toys away early on. They can't associate why you take their toys away until they understand their training and expected behaviors.

Since it takes puppies a while to understand specific actions, they get upset when you take their toys away and don't follow your instructions.

If your dog is older and understands what you expect of them, toy removal is a beneficial reinforcement.

7-Week-Old Do's and Don'ts

Puppies need to stay with their mothers for at least eight weeks. A puppy that's seven weeks old is too young and still needs proper nutrition from their mother.

Allow seven-week-old puppies and younger to have the nourishment they need to grow big and strong. If you take a puppy away from their mom too early, they may experience anxiousness, aggression, or territorial tendencies.

2-Month-Old Puppy Do's and Dont's

At two months, your dog may seem to know right from wrong. Sure, they may know where to go to the bathroom outside and where you keep their favorite toys, but that doesn't mean they are old enough to be fully obedient.

At two months old, start slowly and introduce your home's rules. Crate-train your dog, potty train them, and introduce positive reinforcement.

What you don't want to do is have high expectations that they are grown enough to understand what you expect of them and stick to your training. Allow your pup to learn at their own pace and only give them what they need.

What Age Are Puppies Most Difficult?

Did you know puppies have an adolescent phase? During 6-18 months, your pup is prone to bad behavior. These ages are the best time to implement new training into your dog's regime to avoid unwanted behavior.

Your adolescent pup is energetic and wants to explore and conquer their environment.

Ensure consistency in training to teach away their bad habits. If not, those habits may persist into their adulthood.

How Do You Punish a Puppy for Misbehaving?

There are many ways to deal with your pup's bad behavior. Some ways are beneficial; others are not.

The type of reinforcement measure you choose depends on your pup's temperament and your preference. Positive reinforcement is the best way to deal with your dog's behavior.

For example, you want to teach your dog to sit before you place their food dish in front of them. Your untrained dog jumps and tries to snatch the bowl before it even touches the ground.

With positive reinforcement, you give your dog their dish after they sit still for a prescribed time. Don't give in too soon; hold out until your dog listens to your command.

When you punish bad behavior with restriction or physical force, your dog doesn't understand the reason for the punishment.

Your dog doesn't know you don't want them to jump on the couch because they get hair all over it. They don't understand they can't bark at strangers that walk by because the noise interrupts your TV show.

Introduce positive reinforcement to their problem areas and watch as they progress quickly.

puppy lying down looking up

Get on Your Pup's Good Side

Now you know what your puppy likes and doesn't like. Consider these ideas to create a training program for them.

Many stages of your pup's life may require you to tweak how you deal with them. As always, have patience and understand your dog does the best they can with the tools they have.

The entertainment world lost a legend on May 24, 2023 when Tina Turner passed away at the age of 83. One of her greatest hits was "What's Love Got To Do With It?" When it comes to teaching your pet proper behavior, the answer to that question is "Just about everything."

Create a strong bond with your canine and let them know you're on their side. After their puppy years, they develop a strong sense of your role in their life. You better understand what they need to be the best version of themselves.

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