Puppy owners are concerned with present puppy behaviors: chewing, biting, and potty training.
Trainers tend to focus on the future: handling, socialization, and exercise.
All these areas are important in teaching your puppy Puppy Manners.
The Front End –
Your Puppy’s Chewing and Biting
Chewing and biting are normal puppy behaviors.
- Your puppy needs to chew and bite, so give him appropriate things to chew. Spray them with a particular scent such as chicken broth or beef broth so he knows what is his.
- Put a taste deterrent on things you don’t want him to chew. The more he chews on the legal stuff (his toys), the less he chews on the illegal stuff (everything else – including you!).
- Teach him how to trade the illegal stuff for the legal stuff — offer him something better (a treat) than the item he has in his mouth, and praise him for releasing it.
- Don’t play roughhouse games with him or teasing games with your hands.
- If you’re petting him and he bites down too hard, say “ouch” and walk away. Give him LOTS of exercise — if he’s tired, then he’ll sleep and not chew!
The Front End again – Your Puppy’s Brain
Puppies don’t pop out of the womb knowing how to behave in our human world. They do what comes naturally to them as dogs until we show them what pleases us. Puppies need to learn self-control, puppy obedience, to be left alone, and to listen to you – you can teach him these in a gentle, loving way.
The Middle – Your Puppy’s Body
Playing is what puppies love to do. You can be his best playmate and create a trusting and loving bond with him – plus it’s good exercise for him. Hide and Seek is a great game– and it’s the beginning of the Come command. You hide and someone holds your puppy so he can’t follow you. Then you call him to come to you, and when he does, you give him lots of praise and treats.
The Back End – Puppy Potty Training
Potty training can be summed up in one sentence — take him where you want him to go when he has to go and then reward him there. Feed him on a set schedule rather than leaving the food down. Keep a diary so you can predict when he needs to go. Crate training helps your puppy learn how to “hold it” until you take him out — he doesn’t like to eliminate in the same place he sleeps. BUT he can’t hold it forever, so take him out often until he develops muscle control. Take him to his potty area every two hours and also when he wakes up; after he eats or drinks; before and after a play session; and if he smells the ground, acts uncomfortable, or asks to go out.
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Your Puppy and The Real World – Socialization
Socialization is more than just playing with other dogs.
It’s familiarizing your puppy with things he will encounter during his lifetime. As an adult, he sees things as either safe or dangerous. “Safe” things are those where he has had positive experiences. “Dangerous” things have frightened him *and* are also things he’s not encountered before. The more you socialize him now, the more relaxed he’ll feel later. Take him to different places so he walks on many surfaces, sees people of all ages and races wearing different clothes, smells a myriad of smells, and hears all sorts of sounds.
Handling is just as important as socialization. Touch all parts of his body. Put him on his right side, then left side, then on his back. Hug him from the front and from behind. Gently stretch his legs away from his body. Give him treats while you‘re doing this so he will have a positive association with being handled.
Puppy classes that are run the right way are a wonderful way to teach your puppy these skills, and I talk about them in my Puppy Socialization book. Learn how to show your puppy acceptable behavior in a way that makes sense to him so you are both working together for a common goal.
When your puppy takes my classes, you get my Puppy Socialization book for FREE!
Please have patience. Habits do not change overnight. Give yourself and your puppy a chance.
I’d love to hear what your comments are. What are the things you consider important for Puppy Manners? Please share your experiences with your dog or ask a question so we can begin a dialogue to help each other.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.
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