These are some common unwanted behaviors' that you may come across with your puppy, as hard as they are to deal with, they are all very normal for developing puppies.
Chewing is a completely normal behaviour for puppies. Puppies explore the world around them by putting everything in their mouths, including things that may be inappropriate. It’s important that you puppy proof your home before bringing a new puppy into the house. Having a puppy is like having a toddler, they will get into EVERYTHING if given the chance. This means covering power cords and putting blind cords, kid's toys, your slippers and whatever else that you don’t want chewed up out of reach. If your puppy chews up your belongings, it’s usually our fault because it could have been prevented.
When you first bring your puppy home it’s advisable not to let them have free roam of the house. They are usually more likely to display unwanted behaviours when they’re unsupervised. Either keep puppy in an exercise pen or gate off part of the house where its puppy proofed and where they can be monitored.
Make sure that you have lots of appropriate toys for your puppy to chew on instead. Rope toys, rubber toys, soft toys etc. I like to rotate toys and only have a few out at a time, this way puppy won’t get bored, a bored puppy is a naughty puppy. Providing lots of mental stimulation like training and puzzle toys will tire puppy out and keep them occupied. You can also buy appropriate long-lasting treats to keep them entertained. Just stay away from dental treats and chews, they are too hard until 6 months old when they have their adult teeth.
You can also buy stop chew spray or use Vicks Vapour Rub to deter chewing on things like furniture and leads.
Nipping is a very common puppy behaviour and it is also very NORMAL. Puppies begin to learn bite inhibition with their mother and littermates. If a puppy is taken away from their litter too early, they miss out on some important lessons.
Biting gets worse before it gets better when the adult teeth are all in, this is usually around 6-7 months old.
Puppies bite during play but also to relieve their itchy and sore gums. We have to teach them that biting us is inappropriate and when they bite, playtime is over.
Make sure never to play with your puppy by using your hands. There should always be a toy between you and the dog. Rough play with your hands will just encourage the biting.
There are things you can do to prevent your puppy from biting, and it is never too early to start. The first thing is to redirect your puppy to a toy, rope toys being wriggled around on the floor are often more entertaining than your skin. Try not to push the puppy away or make a huge fuss if they bite you, this just encourages them.
If redirection doesn’t work the next thing you can do is give a firm “AH AH,” stand up, cross your arms and walk away. This is telling your puppy that playtime is over. If you have a puppy who follows you and continues to nip at your ankles, you can implement a “time-out.” A time-out needs to be in a space where your puppy doesn’t spend a lot of their time (it can’t be their pen or a crate.) The bathroom or laundry works well as long as it’s puppy proofed, it also needs to be boring. When the puppy is calm, they can be let out, but if they go straight back to biting, back in time-out they go.
Jumping is an attention seeking behaviour. Even if we tell our puppies off and push them down, this is still attention, even though it’s negative attention. When your puppy jumps on you, the best thing to do is to cross your arms, turn your back and remove all forms of attention, ignoring them completely. When all four feet are on the ground and they’re relaxed you can give them lots of praise and attention. Your puppy will learn quickly that jumping gets them nowhere. Make sure that you tell visitors and strangers the same thing when your puppy jumps on them. Everybody needs to be on the same page and put the work into training. Don’t be shy to advocate for you and your dog and let people know that they’re in training. A puppy jumping now may not be so bad, but when they’re fully grown it won’t be very nice. If you have a really persistent jumper, you can pop a lead on and step on the lead at a length that when the puppy jumps, they get self-corrected by the pressure of the lead. Also rewarding them when all four paws are on the ground.
Digging is not a behavioural problem; it is just a problem behaviour when digging occurs in inappropriate places for us humans. There are a number of reasons as to why a dog may dig. - To get to cooler ground if it’s hot - Trying to find a place to have puppies if they’re pregnant - They’re bored - It’s fun! The first thing to do with a dog that digs is to make sure that they’re exercised both physically and mentally. A bored dog is a cheeky dog! Give your dog lots of things to do when left outside; puzzle toys such as kongs and toppls are great. You also want to make sure that you fill any existing holes, filling holes with your puppy's own poo is a good way to prevent them from digging in that same spot. It’s not very pleasant to dig into your own poo! If you have a puppy that’s insistent on digging, give them an appropriate place to dig! Bunnings have cheap kiddie sandpits that make great digging spots for our dogs. Fill it with sand, treats, toys and let them go at it!
There are a number of reasons as to why dogs bark.
- Alarm barking
To stop barking we need to figure out why our dog is barking in the first place.
If your puppy is barking at you for attention (common at feeding time, crate time or when you leave), it’s best to teach them at an early age that you’re going to ignore them and remove all forms of attention. Puppy can then be praised when they stop barking. For example, if they’re outside barking at you through the door, close the blinds, walk away and ignore them until they’re quiet and calm.
It’s important to prevent separation anxiety from the beginning. The best way to do this is to not make a big fuss when you leave the house and not make a fuss when you get home; puppy needs to know that it’s not a big deal when you leave them alone. It’s also important to give your puppy things to do when they’re alone, lots of mental stimulation toys with food and long lasting treats work well. Start by leaving your puppy home alone for short periods of time, gradually increasing that time as they get used to being alone. While it may be flattering, having a puppy pine after you all day is very distressing for them and a nuisance to neighbours when they start barking.
Alert barking can happen when your puppy sees something outside like a possum, another dog or people. It’s important to break this habit quickly as barking can get out of hand and be a nuisance to those around us. If puppy is barking at something inappropriate, try to block their view from that thing, put a lead on them and take them to another room, redirecting them with toys or games can help. If they’re still determined to bark, a time-out may be needed. A great thing to practice with your puppy is “marking” behaviours that you want to see more often. For example - if they look at a dog or person and don’t bark, mark it with a “yes” or “good boy” and give them a lot of praise and a treat. This will teach your puppy that they will get rewarded for being quiet and when they bark, they’re redirected or taken away from that stimulus. Being put in time-out is boring!