Millions of people in the United States and around the world have found themselves spending unprecedented amounts of time at home due to stay-at-home and quarantine orders imposed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Many have taken advantage of all this free time spent at home and have used it to welcome a new puppy into the family!

However, we have noticed some mistakes that are being made when it comes to raising and training puppies in these times. In the article below, we outline three of these mistakes new puppy owners are making, and what can be done to overcome them. 

Keep reading to learn more!

Not Crate Training

You might be asking yourself: “why would I crate my puppy when I’m home all the time?”

Puppies pick up crate training faster than older dogs who have never been exposed to a crate or had to spend time in one. If you miss the opportunity to do this when your puppy is young, it will be much harder for them to get accustomed to spending time in a kennel.

Additionally, crate training can accelerate housebreaking (since dogs generally do not like to urinate/defecate where they sleep). 

Make sure the crate is big enough for your dog to grow into, and make it comfortable and inviting for your puppy by having soft blankets and a bed inside, and keeping the top covered like a den.

Take it slow, and don’t rush. Start with short, supervised sessions in the crate, and reward your puppy with plenty of treats/toys for being calm.

Feed your puppy their meals inside the crate; this will help create positive associations with time in the crate.

Never use the crate as punishment. This will cause your dog to feel anxiety, frustration, and can lead to undesirable behaviors such as barking or howling.

With patience and positive reinforcement, your puppy will learn to enjoy spending time in their kennel, and will see it as a safe space where they can relax. 

Crate training is one of the most important elements of training a puppy, and just because you’re home all the time now is not a reason to forget about it!

Not Spending Time Away

As non-essential work and school has shifted to be done remotely, pet owners are likely to be spending more time at home than they usually would. 

On the one hand, this is great because it means that you’ll be able to spend the time with your new puppy that’s necessary to train and socialize it. How could playtime all the time be a bad thing? 

On the other hand, if your puppy is always around people, it’s easy for them to get used to receiving near-constant attention that won’t be possible in the coming months and years as the country re-opens. 

If you never accustom your puppy to spending time alone, they are prone to develop separation anxiety, and may show it in symptoms such as excessive barking, whining, urinating/defecating in the house, and destroying furniture while you are away from home. 

So that you don’t have a serious case of separation anxiety on your hands when you return to work or school, make sure that you spend time away from your pup every day.

This is a great way to practice the crate training discussed above, and can even be done by simply going into a separate room in the house–the important thing is that the puppy has quality alone time each day so that they don’t get overly attached to you.

Not Socializing Your Puppy

Just because humans have to be socially distant does not mean that your new puppy doesn’t need to be socialized!

Socialization for puppies just means safely and slowly introducing them to new things, dogs, and people so that they establish comfort in a variety of situations.

Expose your puppy to various surfaces on your outdoor walks (such as grass, concrete, gravel, dirt, and sand) and a variety of sounds (including household sounds such as phone ringers and dishwashers, and outdoor sounds such as large trucks and thunder).

Socializing your puppy with other dogs can be challenging during COVID-19, but one way to go about it would be to have puppy playdates with a neighbor’s or friend’s dog, so that the dogs can interact while you stay a safe distance from the owner. 

The World Health Organization has confirmed that dogs cannot get sick from or spread the Coronavirus. 

Socializing your puppy with other people poses the biggest challenge. Your puppy should interact with all members of the household, and although other physical interaction might not be possible, it will still help your puppy to see other humans walking on sidewalks or trails (if it is safe to do so in your area) and through windows in your car or home.

Dogs can be great stress relievers during traumatic times such as these. If you have decided to add a four-legged friend to the family, congratulations! But please make sure that you crate train, spend time away, and socialize the puppy to ensure happy lives for you and your dog well into the future!  

Have you adopted a new puppy during COVID-19?


About the Author: John is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a graduate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.