Hello! Between the holidays, my new puppy, and a torn ligament in my ankle, I've been MIA for a while - for which I apologize! Here is part 3 of my puppy series:
Puppies! Part 3 – problem behaviors
I should preface this one with one of my mantras – a behavior is only a problem if the OWNER thinks it’s a problem. If an owner is not bothered by a puppy’s jumping, barking, or chewing, then that is up to that individual. Keep that in mind when reading below!
- Chewing – puppies chew. Dogs chew. Some more than others. This is a natural behavior that can’t be “trained away.” Yes, you could suppress it with punishment, but the desire to chew will remain and explode out of the puppy at a later (typically less supervised) time.
- Mouthing – different from chewing. This one is the puppy that has not learned humans are not chew toys. The absolute MUST of this point is consistency. Everyone who interacts with be on the same page every time they interact with puppy. First you need to decide what your hard line is – is it teeth touching skin? A little bit of pressure? Enough pressure it hurts? I personally choose teeth touching skin. It is easiest to follow between multiple people, as amounts of pressure can be judged differently from one person to the next. Once you decide that line, everyone MUST keep to it.
Second, when that line is crossed, the human must yelp “ouch” in a high pitched tone. This is to mimic a wounded puppy – you're telling him in his language “that hurt!” As you yelp, end the play or interaction for 10 seconds (if your puppy still seems overexcited, make this longer). Resume playing. Repeat this as many times as necessary for the puppy to understand a crossed line means the fun stops. Give this at least 2 weeks before you give up on it. He will not grasp it fully in 3 days.
If this fails, and the puppy continues mouthing or gets even more amped up, yelp and remove yourself from the room for a minute. Come back and resume what you were doing. If he continues, leave again.
A few notes: never hit your puppy for mouthing (or anything, really). Be consistent – don't change rules or make exceptions – this is confusing and hinders progress. And be PATIENT. There will be ups and downs, and nothing is learned solidly overnight.
- Barking/crying when left alone – first, you need to evaluate how bad he really is. Is he simply voicing his displeasure or are you actually concerned he will hurt himself? If it’s the latter, stop reading this and send me a message to set up a consult. If it’s the former, read on…
When you leave him and he starts protesting, do NOT go back to him. He has or will soon learn that you leave, he says “please don't” and you’ll say okay and come running back. Teach him that you only return when he is quiet. I’d also highly recommend crate training him (see post #2) as that helps him learn that you leaving isn't so bad.
- Jumping on people – don't reinforce this. Plain and simple. He jumps because he wants attention. The human looks at him, pushes him down, and tells him “off.” The human THINKS they're discouraging the behavior. What actually happened? He jumped. The human made eye contact, touched him, and talked to him. Woohoo! The human paid attention to me! I’ll jump again. So what you should do – only interact with him when four paws are on the floor. He launches, you turn your back, say nothing, and wait for four on the floor. Once he manages this, then turn and pet him. If he jumps again, repeat the sequence. He will quickly learn that jumping gets him nothing good.
A few notes: never hit, knee, or kick your puppy for jumping. Be consistent – EVERYONE who wants to say hi must wait for paws on the ground. And be patient!
Any I missed that you’d like to ask about? Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message!