It is exciting when you bring a new puppy into the home and everyone is anxious to bond with them. You have dreams of this puppy becoming a beloved member of your family, following all of your rules, and behaving well in public. Those dreams and that desire to bond with the puppy is great, but you have to step back and take the time to properly train your puppy from the very start.
If you have not yet brought home your new puppy, you are doing the right thing by reading this article and learning about puppy training in advance. If your new pup is already terrorizing your home and you are dealing with specific behaviors that need changed, you can use this article to find effective training strategies specific to those problem behaviors.
Puppy training can be difficult, but if you are consistent your pup will catch on sooner or later. They will become a well behaved member of the family and it will all be worth it in the end.
How to Stop the Nipping and Biting
Some puppies are quite feisty, and that means nipping and biting during play. Some puppies may also have an aggressive side, so they may bite when they get overly excited or agitated. This chapter is about innocent behavior that is not intended to harm. If you feel your dog is aggressive to the point of trying to harm someone, or you fear they may attack someone, see below for vital information on anxiety and aggression toward humans and other dogs.
Allowing your puppy to experience the natural consequences of their feisty behavior is perhaps the easiest way to teach them to tame this behavior. Naturally, puppies learn not to bite by playing with their parents and litter mates. When they get too rough and hurt one another, they will naturally put one another in place. They learn as they grow to treat one another with respect and to play in a gentle, safe manner.
If you have puppies around the same age, then you can simply allow them to play together to start the process of eliminating biting during play. If you have only one puppy, then finding other dogs for them to play with is key. Just make sure those other dogs are not overly aggressive, as that will teach your puppy to be rougher, rather than gentler.
The Right Response
You have to make sure everyone with access to your puppy responds to a bite or nip in the same manner. You do not want to yell at them, strike them, or throw them into their crate. Even if they bite kind of hard and it hurts, you have to respond with a firm, “no.” You can also put them down if they are on your lap, or get up if you are on the floor. Removing yourself from contact with the puppy shows them that the biting and nipping is not acceptable.
Here is the important part: you have to go back and show a bit of love to your puppy so they know you are not mad at them. It is the behavior you are trying to correct, so your puppy must know you still love them.
Consistency Is Key
You have to respond immediately and in the same manner every time you see this behavior in your puppy. A playful puppy will learn rather quickly that biting a playmate instantly ends the play session. If you can give them active play time with other dogs or puppies as well, they will learn even faster.
How to Stop Your Puppy from Jumping on Humans
You walk in the front door from a long day at work and are greeted by an overly excited puppy, running full force down the hallway and jumping up at you for a hug. Alternatively, the puppy hears the rattle of their food bag or the sound of the can opener and instantly starts jumping up on your legs, anxious to get that food.
Puppies mean well when they start jumping on humans, but they can also be very annoying and disrespectful. This is behavior that must be stopped very early on, especially if you have a lot of guests in your home and want your puppy to be well behaved and respectful to them.
There are a variety of ways to correct this behavior, and you can mix up these approaches until you find the combination that works best for your puppy:
1. Use crate training.
Start working with your puppy using other methods listed here, but put your puppy in a crate when you have company over. As they get better with jumping on members on your household, invite close friends or family members over and allow your puppy to stay out of the crate. Apply forms of correction listed here if they jump on these guests, and use this as a training experience. You do not allow the puppy out with more important or less familiar guests until they are properly trained and have proven themselves.
2. Do not acknowledge your puppy when you first come in the door.
Instruct other household members to do the same.
You do not make eye contact with them, pet them, or bend down to their level until they have calmed down and left you alone. When they start to greet you without that excited jumping, acknowledge them, and give them the treat of your attention and love.
3. Use the command “down” to instantly bring them back down to the ground.
You may need to gently bring their front paws back to the floor as you say the command at first. Once they get down, bring them to a sit and tell them to stay. You have to be consistent with this, so they get this response every time they jump on any member of your household.
Do not scream at your puppy and expect them to understand you don’t like the jumping. They have to learn this simple command in order to understand what you expect of them. If you combine all three of these methods, you should get rid of the jumping relatively fast. The key is consistency with all members of the household or limited access to members of the household unable to correct the behavior, such as smaller children.
Stranger Anxiety, Dog Aggression, and Dangerous Aggression
This chapter will help you assess the more aggressive tendencies of your puppy so you can determine if they are a danger to yourself, your family, and others they come in contact with in public. It is your job as an owner to notice and correct aggressive behavior so they do not harm others.
When a dog is fearful or threatened by strangers coming into their home, walking by their home, or encountered in public, they may display aggressive behavior. They may even bit someone or go on the attack; not because they are vicious, but because they are anxious and scared.
The first thing you do in this situation is recognize the problem and start crating your puppy when you have new people in the home. Gradually introduce them to new people in a one-on-one, non-threatening manner. Keep them on a leash so you can correct any aggressive displays toward the new people they meet.
Gradually introduce the puppy to public situations as well. Only take them out after they have learned basic commands, so you can work on having them sit and stay when they are agitated or anxious about their surroundings. Do not take them off their leash in public.
This form of aggression comes out against other dogs. If you socialize your puppy from a very early age, this type of aggression is much less likely to occur. See our other posts to learn how to properly socialize your puppy. Also make sure your puppy is not exposed to other dogs that are very aggressive. If they are tormented by an aggressive dog early in life, they are more likely to be fearful and aggressive toward other dogs.
Signs of dog aggression need to be corrected very early in life. If you have a puppy that seems generally intolerant of other animals, you may want to work with a professional trainer to correct the behavior as much as possible. Do not let it go until they attack another dog, as that puts a lot of liability on your shoulders.
Aggression and Disrespect
Most puppies are not aggressive or disrespectful to owners if they have been properly trained in all other areas. They learn respect through interaction with caregivers who love them. If you have a puppy that was rescued from the streets or abused in the past, then you may have more severe aggression to work through, and that takes time with a professional trainer. Your puppy’s individual problems and triggers will need to be identified and corrected in unique ways.