A puppy is a fun and adorable addition to your family — and can be a challenging one! Unfortunately, puppies don’t come fully trained and perfectly behaved. Therefore, it’s up to you to help them learn what’s acceptable behavior among humans.
What can you expect from your newest family member? If your puppy is younger than one year, at first you can expect to deal with undesirable behaviors like jumping on people, biting and growling, chewing, and whining when crated or being left alone. These are all things your puppy will do as he’s growing and developing and testing its boundaries. All of these behaviors can be overcome, but it takes consistency and patience on your part.
Remember: puppies have very short attention spans, so expect to be working on teaching proper behaviors and behavior modifactions over the course of weeks and months.
Here are a few explanations behind common puppy behaviors, and some ways you can modify unwanted behaviors:
- My puppy jumps on people
When your pup jumps up on to people, she’s trying to get attention. Pushing your dog away from you only rewards her for her undesirable behavior by giving her attention. Instead, when your puppy jumps up, turn away and say “off.” When all four of her feet are back on the ground, praise her and give her a treat. If she knows how to sit on command, tell her to sit when her feet are on the ground and then praise and reward her when she’s sitting.
- My puppy is biting and growling
Puppies play with other dogs by biting and growling. It’s not always a sign of aggression, but it generally isn’t something you want your puppy to do with his human family.
There are a couple of training techniques you can use. The first is to yell “ouch,” break eye contact and walk away every single time your puppy starts to bite you. Eventually he’ll learn that if he wants your attention, he must play nicely.
The second is to wrap your hands gently around your pup’s muzzle and hold on, saying something like, “no bite.” The key to this one is to be calm and gentle — you don’t want to take your anger and frustration out on your puppy; he’s just doing what puppies do.
- My puppy is chewing on everything
Puppies chew on everything. It’s part of how they explore the world and it helps their aching gums feel better when they’re teething.
You can help minimize the damage by puppy-proofing your house. Store the garbage out of reach. Keep the house picked up. Use a spray like Bitter Apple on furniture and rugs. Set up baby gates to keep your puppy out of rooms with especially precious items.
Then, have appropriate chew toys available everywhere — don’t give her old socks or shoes or discarded children’s toys. She won’t ever know the difference between an old running shoe and an expensive leather pump. Visit the pet store and stock up on sturdy but flexible toys. We especially like Kongs and Jolly Balls.
When you catch your dog gnawing on something she shouldn’t, interrupt her with a loud noise, give her a toy and when she puts it in her mouth, shower her with praise.
- My puppy whines
All puppies will whine when you leave them alone. They will outgrow it, but you need to be consistent in how you handle it.
If your new puppy whines during crate training, make sure his crate is a safe, comfortable spot for him to be. Put blankets and toys in it and scatter a few treats on the floor of the crate. You can also turn some quiet, soothing music.
If he whines when you leave a room or the house, make sure he has some toys available to distract him and then just walk away. He may bark or whine for a while, but eventually he’ll settle down. As he gets older and feels more secure in his environment, he’ll settle down and stop making such a fuss when you leave.
All puppies are different and will have different levels of undesirable behaviors. Some will jump more, others will chew more. If you think your new puppy is exhibiting any abnormal behaviors, you can mention this to your vet and ask for some tips or request a referral to a local professional dog trainer.
If you’re looking for training classes or socialization opportunities for your new puppy, at PetU can help! You can check out our list of upcoming classes here and our training programs here. For more information, contact us today!