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Just got a puppy? Here are the mistakes I made that turned my fur baby into a monster.

If you have caved and brought a fur baby into your home during the last two months, welcome. Pull up a chair and listen closely. I am here to tell you it’s one of the best decisions you could have made.

There’s no comfort quite like a pet to help pull you out of a really tough time. The companionship dogs have offered their owners during the global pandemic cannot be underestimated.

Add to this the position many animal shelters found themselves in, fearing that they would not be able to continue their services when self-isolation came into play, it’s hardly surprising so many have chosen to add a four-legged friend to their home.

Watch: Dogs can tell when you’re upset, and they want to help! Post continues below.

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While restrictions are easing, many of us will continue to work at home – and this is a blessing in disguise when it comes to puppy training. Consider it as impromptu paw-ternity leave because honestly, you’re going to need it.

During the first few weeks with a fur baby, it’s hard not to be blinded by puppy love.

While you want to spoil them and give in to their adorable puppy dog eyes, don’t – because you’re going to be living with the outcome of what you teach them now for a long time to come.

While I took my miniature dachshund Maple to puppy training, my inability to put boundaries in place at home purely because she was so damn cute has now left me the owner of a three-year-old mini dictator.

Yes, Maple is adorable but she is also needy, demanding and seriously entitled. That might sound harsh but as her mum, I can say, she’s a monster.

So please, learn from my mistakes and don’t make the same errors I did:

1. Never feed them from the table.

This is one that I did super well with at the beginning. Maple was trained to sit before her food was put in front of her and never came begging at the dinner table.

But it wasn’t long before other family members went against my ‘dinner time rules’ and started feeding her from their plates. This is a bad idea.

It makes begging okay and each time you give your dog food from your plate, you are rewarding this negative behaviour. Eventually, it becomes a learned habit and you can say goodbye to eating your food in peace ever again.

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Instil good eating habits in your dog by feeding them their own meal separately and you’ll never have to deal with them jumping you each time you have a bowl or plate in your hands.

2. Puppy pads are an awful, awful idea.

You know those pee pads you put on the floor that look like a flat square nappy? Yeah, they’re a terrible idea. Heed my warning: Do. Not. Use. Them.

Yes, they do work and your dog will take a whiz on them. The problem is they work a bit too well. Soon enough, your dog will think any square looking item in the near vicinity is indeed a puppy pad.

I’m talking your bathroom rug, carpet, a towel on the floor, anything really, will suddenly become a portable toilet.

Undoing the mess (literally) that puppy pads create is tough. Teach them to do their business outside from day dot. Toilet training is hard but doing it properly is worth it in the long run.

3. Think before you let them sleep in your bed.

I’m not going to judge you if you let your dog sleep in your bed with you. Some are pro-co-pet sleeping and some are deeply against it. I don’t think there is a right or wrong and it comes down to a matter of personal choice.

But what I do suggest is thinking about how it will change your sleeping habits in the long run. The standard you accept is what your puppy will learn so if you let them in the bed enough times, they will come to expect to sleep with you.

Maple does sleep with us and for a tiny dog, she takes up an impressively large amount of mattress. She also likes to be covered and will often burrow under blankets even though we only let her sleep on top of the doona.

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Also remember that sleeping with a dog more often than not, doesn’t lead to the most restful night’s sleep. So just make sure you’re comfortable with your decision before you make it.

4. Don’t leave socialisation too late.

The sooner you can get your dog to a dog park, the better. If you take your dog to puppy school, this is a good idea too because it’s likely free play will be part of their class.

Getting your dog used to being around other dogs will help them to be more obedient when you are walking them and not get too phased by fellow four-legged friends.

If you leave socialisation too late, it might become harder for them to develop these relationships and even become fearful of those around them.

Another bonus of a dog being socialised is they are less scared of new or unknown situations, like going to the vet. It will make them happier and healthier in the long run and in turn, less stressful for you as their owner.

Valentina Todoroska is a freelance writer, editor and former primary school teacher. You can follow her on Instagram.

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