Welcoming a new puppy—an adorable, fun, furry ball of energy—into your home and family is a joy. But, from housetraining to socializing, many important training activities that must take place when you first bring a puppy home involve a lot of work. Still, these skills are essential for a well-mannered dog, and although behavior problems can be corrected in adult dogs, preventing them during puppyhood is much easier. A few tips and tricks can help you build a solid foundation for good manners that will last your puppy a lifetime. Follow our Pioneer Animal Hospital team’s advice to prevent your puppy from developing naughty behaviors.
#1: Puppies who chew
All puppies go through a chewing phase that can be attributed to many reasons, but mostly teething and exploring. Puppies explore their world through their mouths, which is not only frustrating for owners, but also potentially dangerous should they chew the wrong thing. To help curb a naughty chewing habit, and ensure your puppy grows out of the habit once they’re done teething, try the following tips:
- Provide proper outlets — Provide your puppy with appropriate chewing outlets. Purchase chew toys specifically designed for their size and chewing power to avoid choking hazards or damage to their developing teeth. Plush toys with squeakers, rope toys for tugging, balls, and stuffable food puzzles are great options for a teething puppy. However, they must be supervised at all times, because a determined puppy can quickly shred a plush or rope toy.
- Swap out items — When your puppy is chewing something inappropriate, such as a shoe, paper towel, or TV remote, offer them a trade. Do not chase them, because a puppy will view the chase to retrieve the forbidden item as a game. Instead, gently offer them an acceptable, more enticing toy.
- Block access — Block your puppy’s access to areas that are difficult to puppy-proof, and place off-limits items behind these barricades. For example, keep your puppy out of the kitchen with a baby gate, and ensure the trash can is inaccessible in the kitchen.
#2: Puppies who bark
Dogs discover their voices as puppies, and often bark excessively from excitement or boredom, or to gain your attention, since in their mind, a negative, “Hush,” is a reward for the behavior. To help prevent your puppy from barking constantly, ensure they receive plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Additionally, teaching your puppy to bark on command will also teach them when to be quiet.
#3: Puppies who jump
Puppies commonly jump up to greet people, and this behavior is often inadvertently reinforced, since ignoring an adorable puppy begging for attention is almost impossible. Whether you push a jumping puppy down, tell them “No,” or laughingly shove them off your leg, you’re actually rewarding them for jumping. Instead, turn your back, wait until the jumping puppy is on the floor again, and immediately turn back around, lavishing them with praise. As your puppy learns to control their excitement, you can ask them to “Sit,” and then reward them with pets.
#4: Puppies who bite
Puppies commonly nip and play-bite while they figure out how to play with their siblings and human family members. However, if these behaviors are not corrected early, the biting can continue through adulthood, which can be particularly inappropriate and painful. To nip this potential problem in the bud, stop paying attention to your puppy when they bite. Avoid pushing them away, or tugging a shirtsleeve from their mouth, as these actions will seem like a game. Instead, immediately stop playing with your puppy, and walk away. They’ll soon learn that all the fun and games stop when they play too rough. Alternatively, you can offer an appropriate chew toy to keep them from biting your clothes or hands too hard.
#5: Puppies who eliminate inappropriately
Urinating and defecating inside the house is normal for a puppy learning the housetraining ropes. However, as they become older and can hold their bladder for longer, they must learn to eliminate in the correct spot. You can housetrain them quickly by being consistent—go out the same door, head to the same grassy yard area, and use the same cue word each time, and your puppy will quickly get the idea. Then, immediately reward them for eliminating in the correct spot. Don’t offer a treat and praise when you get back inside the house, because your puppy will not make the connection between the treat and going to the bathroom outdoors.
With patience and consistency—and plenty of treats—you can turn an unruly pup into a well-mannered family companion. Ensure your furry pal remains a happy and healthy family member for many years, by providing preventive health care and keeping them up to date on vaccinations. Contact our Pioneer Animal Hospital team for help keeping your—well-behaved—puppy in tip-top shape.