Is anything more exciting than welcoming home a new furry bundle of joy? We don’t think so. Bringing home a new puppy is a time full of fun and adventure, but one that can also have a fair share of challenges. In fact, behavior issues are the number one reason “teenage” dogs are surrendered to animal shelters. However, with a few simple training techniques, you can banish bad behavior and help your pup grow into a well-mannered family companion. Read on, to learn how to prevent common behavior problems in your puppy.
How to prevent your puppy from jumping
An adorable, yet excited, puppy is hard to turn down, and harder to keep “down.” Since they are so short, puppies usually jump up on people for attention. People then reward the behavior not only by petting the puppy, but also pushing the puppy down, or saying “No.” The last two responses may seem like the correct actions but, in fact, they reward the puppy, since any attention is positive attention to them.
To prevent your puppy from jumping on visitors, ignore them when they leap up by turning your back, and refusing to acknowledge them until they stop jumping.
You can also work on your puppy’s obedience by training them to sit before they receive attention. Sitting is incompatible with jumping, so teaching them to sit when someone enters the door will help prevent them from leaping up. At the beginning, if your puppy cannot contain themselves long enough to sit, reward them for having all four paws on the ground, and work up to “Sit.”
How to prevent your puppy from biting
Puppies explore the world through their mouths, sometimes biting other puppies to entice them to play, but this can lead to inappropriate nipping and biting. Puppies who were removed from their littermates too young are especially prone to inappropriate biting. Typically, a puppy will learn bite inhibition (i.e., the ability to regulate biting behavior) from their siblings and mother, but all puppies need to learn bite inhibition, no matter what their age when they went to their new home.
To help keep your puppy from biting while playing, never encourage them to chase your hands or feet. Although watching your puppy pounce on your shoelace is cute, that same behavior won’t be adorable when they reach adulthood. If your playful puppy bites or nips you, make a high-pitched yelp, and immediately stop playing. Some puppies so strongly want to keep playing, you may need to leave the room and close the door to put a stop to their biting. They’ll soon learn that if they bite too hard, their playmate no longer wants to play.
How to house train your puppy
Inappropriate elimination is a frustrating problem behavior for puppy owners, but consistency and positive reinforcement can make house training a breeze. If your puppy has an accident inside, don’t scold them, or rub their nose in it. Instead, interrupt your puppy and carry them outside. When they finish going outdoors, celebrate the occasion with tons of praise, pets, and treats. Each time you take your puppy outside, use the same door, go to the same spot in the yard, and use the same cue words, to help them associate the process with eliminating outdoors. Then, always reward your puppy as soon as they are finished. Waiting to give a treat until you return indoors rewards the puppy for coming inside, since they cannot connect getting a treat indoors with eliminating outside.
How to prevent your puppy from destroying household items
Teething, exploration, and boredom are the main causes behind puppies destroying household items. They must have an appropriate outlet for chewing and playing, or they’ll get into mischief and find their own toys, which may be your shoes, a rug, or your favorite chair. To prevent your pup from sinking their sharp teeth into your belongings, offer a wide assortment of appropriate chew toys. Choose soft rubber toys, plush toys with a squeaker inside, or a rope toy for supervised play, and a stuffable food puzzle, like a Kong, for a special treat while in their crate. If your puppy chews something they shouldn’t, pick up an appropriate toy, call them to you, and swap items, but avoid trying to take the item from your puppy’s mouth, since they’ll likely think it’s a game of tug-of-war. Offering a toy in trade works much better.
Training, positive reinforcement, and patience are the pillars to preventing problem behaviors in your puppy. Likewise, vaccinations, physical exams, and parasite prevention form the foundation for a healthy, happy, puppy. Ensure your puppy remains up to date on their essential preventive care by scheduling an appointment with our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team.