One of the most common struggles among pet parents is understanding their puppy’s behaviour, particularly, during their first few weeks at home. During their early stages, they are still exploring the things around them and being curious creatures, puppies can develop undesirable behaviours as they grow. If not properly managed or constructively handled, these behaviours can be carried out and get worse until they grow into adults, causing more mischief. The younger the puppies are, the easier it is to discourage any behavioural problems through positive reinforcement.
Furthermore, in order for positive dog training to be successful, every pet owner needs to understand their puppy’s behaviour. Understanding your fur baby’s actions is the key to encourage good habits and overcome any unacceptable behaviour. To effectively deal with a puppy’s common behaviour, here are some helpful tips to guide you.
When a puppy needs to go to the toilet, he might demonstrate the following gestures:
- Excessive whining
- Goes around in circles
- Walking towards the door leading outside
As soon as your fur baby shows these gestures, you need to walk him out. Take him out for a walk in order to relieve himself the moment he arrives home. Once you’ve taught your puppy to eliminate at home, eventually, it will develop into a habit - and you have to break that.
To do so, you have to get up very early in the morning, take your puppy for a walk before he urinates or eliminates. Don’t bring him home until he eliminates out of desperation. Although you have to take it slowly and ultimately, you will learn your puppy’s toilet timing and routine. On the first few times, you will not be successful and you will have to be patient. In such conditions, take your puppy to the garden or any other outdoor areas where he can eliminate after you arrive home. Or, if he starts to urinate or poop indoors, quickly take him outside to finish.
A puppy jumping around to greet you and your visitors is cute, however, this behaviour should not be tolerated. This gesture is also demonstrated by puppies when they are eager for attention, excited, wants to play or if they are asking for food. Nonetheless, you have to train your dog not to jump at will.
- Don’t encourage this behaviour by ignoring your puppy and don’t praise him every time he jumps to you.
- Train your puppy how to obey commands like “sit” when you come home. Whenever he obeys, reward him with treats, toys or food. This is an effective dog training method that helps enormously in handling such behaviour. Do this repeatedly when you leave and when you arrive home.
Chewing and Mouthing
Being curious creatures, puppies tend to explore the world with their mouths. Thus, the undesirable chewing, nipping and mouthing occur. Plus, when these fur babies get bored, anxious, stressed or they’re teething, they end up chewing or nipping on objects like the furniture, your shoes, toys - even your skin. You must deal with this while they’re young to avoid the undesirable behaviour when they’re adults.
- Divert your puppy’s attention to an appropriate chew toy and provide him with brain-stimulating toys as well as motivate him to play in order to avoid boredom.
- Teach your puppy that chewing on your skin is inappropriate by giving commands like “no”, “yelp”, “ouch” and praise him or reward him when he obeys. Eventually, he will develop a good habit of teething on appropriate stuff only.
- When you see them chewing, do not give them attention by asking them to stop. This will prevent unwanted attention seeking behaviour from developing. Give them “time out” for small periods by leaving the room.
- To restrict your fur baby from chewing or mouthing on items you don’t want them to, confine them to an area where they can’t get access to your stuff. You can also use Vicks Vapour Rub, Citronella Oil or Tea Tree Oil to discourage them from nipping inappropriate items.
Digging is a dog’s natural behaviour based on their hunting instincts. It is also a result of boredom and stress. However, it is an undesirable habit that if not controlled, can turn your yard into a moonscape. As part of dog training or positive reinforcement, this habit can be minimised by:
- Give him a command by saying “NO!” or “STOP” in order to interrupt the digging. You can use an air horn, hand clap along with your command to get his attention. When he stops digging, give him praise or reward and provide him with a toy to divert his attention.
- Puppies need attention as well as affection from their pet parents, hence, you need to spend more time with them by doing activities or cuddling with them. This can help prevent boredom and stress, ultimately, minimising the digging habit.
- Tire him out - keep him at play like fetch and engage him in activities to use up all his pent-up energy. Remember, a tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy. Thus, he will not have any time for digging.
- Restrict your puppy’s access to the yard by barricading openings and covering holes with canvas, chain-link fencing, bricks, etc. You can also put pepper, vinegar or citronella in small holes to discourage him from digging.
- To keep your fur baby from digging up your garden, place a chicken wire an inch below the topsoil, or scatter cut up rose trimmings or any other prickly mulch.
Barking or Vocalising
A puppy’s barking habit can sometimes be too much to bear - can get too annoying. Barking, whimpering or whining are considered as a puppy’s natural behaviour especially during their first few weeks or during their “fear period”. It should be controlled, though, through positive dog training, before he develops it as a behavioural problem.
- Place your puppy in a dry, warm, safe and comfortable area where he could sleep and rest.
- Don’t leave him alone especially at night in order for him not to feel that he is being abandoned. If you put him in a crate, bring the crate to your room and put it in an area near you.
- Take your dog out to the toilet every few hours, and limit his food particularly, before bedtime.
- Provide enough physical and mental exercise to use up all his pent-up energy. Again, a tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy, which means, he could easily retire at night. Thus, minimising barking and whining.
- Ignore your fur baby when he whines to get attention and put the whining on command or cue. When he stops whining after you gave out the command, praise or reward him. Eventually, he will learn that he gets good things by showing good behaviour.
Summing It Up
Puppies are naturally-born playful, curious and social animals. As they grow older, they keep on exploring things around them and as they adapt with their environment, they can develop undesirable behaviours. Luckily, these behaviours can be minimised and constructively developed into good habits with your help and the right approach such as positive dog training or reinforcement. By following the tips we’ve mentioned above, you can certainly make your puppy a well-adapted dog without behavioural problems. Hey, puppies are adorable creatures and we have all the reasons to love them, even more, every day!
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