When welcoming home a new puppy, you likely aren’t thinking about turning that furry little whirlwind of sharp teeth and spring-loaded jumping into an ideal family companion. However, as your pup grows, those adorable puppy behaviors—jumping up for greetings, barking, and tugging at your clothes—are suddenly not so cute. If you do not nip those problems in the bud, you will find that phasing out naughty behaviors will be more difficult when your puppy is older. To help prevent your puppy from behaving inappropriately, follow our training tips.
#1: Be consistent when interacting with your puppy
In all your interactions with your puppy, concentrate on being consistent. As a new household member—and as a young puppy in general—your new pup will need to learn a great deal on acting properly. If you fail to be consistent with your guidelines, your puppy will be easily confused and may inadvertently act inappropriately because they do not understand.
Remain consistent when training your puppy to:
- Not jump on people — Although withholding your attention from an adorable puppy jumping on your knees is not easy, do not swoop down to greet them when they jump up. Ask visitors to quietly tell your puppy to sit before being greeted, or to ignore your puppy until they calm down and stop jumping. If some people allow your puppy to jump up, while others try to teach them to stay on the ground for attention, your pet will become confused and stopping the jumping behavior will be much more difficult.
- Eliminate outside — House-training a puppy is often an owner’s most difficult task, but remaining consistent will shorten the process. Every time you take your puppy outside, go through the same door, go to the same spot in the yard, and use the same cue to urge your puppy to go to the bathroom. Then, immediately reward and praise your pet before going indoors to help this chain of events stick in your pup’s mind.
- Play gently — Tiny pups who growl and bark as they tug on a rope toy are cute, but when they grow into a large Labrador, playtime isn’t as much fun as you’re dragged across the room. From the start, play gently with your puppy and stop if they bite or play too rough. Take a break, and resume playing when they calm down. If they continue to bite too hard, call it quits, and find a new activity.
#2: Focus on positive reinforcement instead of punishment
All creatures learn best through positive reinforcement rather than punishment-based techniques, and puppies are no exception. Instead of scolding your puppy when they do something you do not like, reward them for actions you do want. For example, avoid yelling at your puppy or rubbing their nose in their mess if they urinate indoors. They will not understand that they should not go indoors—only that they should not eliminate in front of you. Offer treats and praise when your puppy urinates outside, which will not only strengthen your bond, but also teach your puppy exactly what you want.
#3: Never stop socializing your puppy
Your puppy is a sponge, thirsty to soak up the world around them, whether the experience is good or bad. Making each experience as positive as possible will help your puppy develop into a calm, confident dog. During your puppy’s socialization period—which lasts until about 14 weeks of age—they will form the strongest opinions on new people, places, and pets. A negative experience can linger for life, so give your pup space to explore new situations and ensure they leave with positive memories. Avoid forcing your puppy to greet strange people or dogs, and let them approach at their own pace. Praise them for reacting calmly, and end each experience on a positive note. While your puppy’s prime socialization period will end by the time they are 4 months old, exposing them to positive new situations, environments, people, and pets should be ongoing, which will help reduce reactivity, anxiety, and fear, and build an excellent foundation for a well-mannered dog.
Congratulations on welcoming home a furry new bundle of joy! In addition to preventing your puppy from developing problem behaviors, you will want to protect them from infectious diseases and parasites. Give our Fremont Animal Hospital team a call to schedule your puppy’s first wellness visit.