Understanding Normal Puppy Behavior
Happy International Puppy Day! If you’re a new puppy parent, you know puppies are adorable but also a handful! You need be patient and understanding with your puppy, so work on training him as soon as he comes home with you. If left unattended, cute puppy behavior will evolve into adult dog behavior problems. Here is a list of training tips to help calm a few of the more unwelcome but normal puppy behaviors.
Mouthing and Chewing
Mouthing and chewing are very normal puppy behaviors. It may seem like the nipping is never going to end and it can be difficult to break the habit. But break it you must, in order to avoid bigger problems when the dog is grown. This behavior is similar to teething in human babies – puppies go through teething as well. You can help discourage biting by offering a chew toy with one hand and petting your puppy with the other. If your puppy still attempts to nip your hand, immediately look at your pup, say, “Ouch!” loudly and abruptly, and cease any petting or attention you were giving the puppy. Ignore your puppy, leaving the room if you must, in order to stress to him that mouthing is an unacceptable behavior. Once your puppy is calm, return and try the chew toy method again.
Another common puppy behavior that must be corrected is jumping. Dogs will jump on and at their owners in order to get attention. Even if you push your dog away, he still registers a type of attention. When your dog is jumping on you, fold your arms, and use the command “off.” If your dog knows the “sit” command, give it. Keep your back turned and ignore him until he has all four paws on the floor, then calmly turn to him and praise him. If he begins jumping once you face him, repeat the ignoring process.
Never tap, slap, or hit your dog for nipping or jumping. These are ineffective for training purposes and will likely backfire in the following ways:
- Your dog will become “hand-shy” and develop a fear of hands.
- Your dog will become fearful of you and begin avoiding you.
- Your dog will respond defensively towards you and your family.
- Your dog will misinterpret the slap as an invitation for rough play, and get even more excited and likely to nip and jump.
Tugging or wrestling games may be fun, but they encourage undesirable behavior such as grabbing, lunging, and competing with you. The whole family should be using the same techniques. Otherwise, it can be very confusing to your dog and can make the training process difficult.
A new puppy will need the housebreaking training from scratch. The easiest and most efficient way to housetrain your new puppy is crate training. Crate training will require time and patience on your part, but it will greatly benefit you and your relationship with your dog.
Happy National Puppy Day, everyone!