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Curbing Your New Puppy’s Undesirable Behaviors

Puppy chewing on shoe

A new puppy is always a welcome addition to your home – a cute, wiggly, furry bundle of joy that everyone will love.  Unfortunately, new puppies are also a tremendous amount of work during those first few weeks, and your puppy’s bad habits can arise if you don’t handle integrating them into the family properly.  Think about it – he’s only a few months old, has been taken away from his mother, and is expected to learn a whole new set of rules in a new household without his siblings!  It should be no surprise that even the most adorably puppy can develop behavior problems such as biting, excessive barking, and chewing.

The Little Nipper

Biting is one of the most common problems people have with puppies.  Puppies bite and nip when they are young because this is a part of their natural rough and tumble play habit with litter mates.  If left with their siblings until they are four or five months old, most puppies outgrow this phase.  Most puppies are weaned long before this, however, and so don’t learn the boundaries they otherwise would.

Never hit your puppy when he nips or bites – this just reinforces aggressive behavior.  Instead, try these simple tips:

If you give your puppy the opportunity to socialize with other young dogs on a regular basis, he will soon learn the proper boundaries naturally.

When he nips family members or friends, gently reprimand him and offer a chew toy as an alternative.  This should be done even when he is simply gently nibbling so that you avoid confusion in his mind.

You want to reinforce any activity involving his teeth with particular toys and not with people. Whenever he is playing and interacting without biting, be sure and praise him.  Positive reinforcement is a great teaching tool and more effective than punishing your puppy’s bad habits.

The Happy Yapper

Barking is another common puppy habit that can be quickly eliminated with the right approach.  Most puppies bark for a number of reasons – they are excited, they want attention, they are warning you, they are bored…sometimes they even bark just because they like to hear themselves bark.

It’s important to let your pet know when barking is okay and when it isn’t.  Again, consistency is the key.  You don’t want to confuse him, but you do want to make your rules clear.

The simplest way to minimize barking is to keep your dog interested and engaged.  This means making sure you take him on plenty of walks and play with him every day – if he is stimulated and challenged every day and gets to experience plenty of sites and sounds, he will be less likely to bark out of boredom.  He also needs some time in the house with the family when people are interacting with him so that he feels loved and appreciated.

If your dog does bark too much (for instance, when people come into the house) and then doesn’t stop, there are ways to train him that barking is okay only up to a point.  For instance, if he barks to let you know there is someone at the door, this can be a good thing.  But when you want him to stop, command, “Stop Barking!” in a voice loud and firm enough to get his attention.  If he stops – even for a few seconds – give him praise and a treat.  After a few days, increase the time he has to go without barking.  Eventually, he will understand that he can bark only until you give the “Stop Barking” command, and he will begin to bark less often.

The Charming Chewer

Chewing on furniture, shoes, pillows and other inappropriate items is also a common problem.  Often it only happens when a puppy is left alone and the owners come back to find the debris strewn about this house.  This is not about the puppy expressing his displeasure – they simply aren’t made to be spiteful in this way.  The excessive destructiveness is a sign that your new pet is either bored or scared – separation anxiety when left alone is quite common in puppies.

To keep your dog occupied, be sure to give him plenty of toys to keep him entertained.  Many pet owners also swear by having a radio playing or the television on at low volume so that the house doesn’t seem so empty.

You should also begin leaving the house for short intervals whenever you can (five minutes is a good starting point), then coming back and petting and playing with your puppy.  This will reassure him that you will always return if you do leave.  As you gradually increase the time you are away, his anxiety when you are gone will fade.

If you remain consistent, your puppy’s bad habits can be effectively curbed. If you focus on giving your puppy plenty of affection and love when you are with him and make sure he knows who is in charge at all times, you should soon have a puppy whose behavior is as angelic as his looks.

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