Puppies are glorious little creatures, full of life and devilment. Training them early is crucial for them to grow up to be well balanced, happy and content adult dogs. The problem is that playing with a new puppy is just too much fun and often owners forget that at this stage of a puppy's life, it is crucial to teach them not to do certain things which are very naughty!
Below is a list of “naughties” that puppies often get away with but which may turn into a nightmare later on when they are big, adult dogs!
Puppies love to explore things with their mouths – it's a natural thing for them to do. When with their litter mates, puppies learn how to play with their mouths, their paws and bodies which means it's fun! However, using their mouths is a puppy's way of telling their litter mates to “back off” when they have had enough too. The problem is these gorgeous young canines have razor-sharp teeth and if you let them play with your hands or any other part of your body in the same way – someone is going to get hurt.
It's not “all right” for pups to play like this with anyone and especially young children – remember these are their formative years which means what they learn as pups will stay with them for the rest of their lives. The best way to stop a puppy from “play mauling” you is to say “ouch” very loudly but never in anger. The word spoken loudly will surprise and shock your puppy so they stop mauling you in order to look up and see what is wrong. As soon as they stop, you must reward them with lots of praise but without getting them too excited! Then give them a toy to mouth and maul around as a reward.
The next step is to teach any young children what to do, which can be difficult because kids tend to pull their hands away when a puppy starts to maul them. Puppies usually interpret this as the children wanting to play rough and will continue the game. It's really important for kids to understand your training techniques so they can learn at the same time as the new puppy does that mouthing, nipping and mauling are not allowed.
Barking is an issue that needs nipping in the bud when it involves puppies. However, there are times when a dog or young puppy may bark for which they should never be told off for because they may be barking due to the fact they are in trouble, or to let you know when something is wrong. As an owner, you need to understand the different barks your dog makes so you can differentiate from when they are being naughty and wanting attention to when they may just need your help.
However, you still need to teach a puppy that barking for no reason is not good behaviour and the fact you do teach them this, should not stop them barking altogether. The best way to stop a puppy from barking is to tell them “Shush” or “Quiet” every time they bark so that it becomes a command and something they want to obey in order to get lots of praise and a healthy treat. It can be a long process teaching a puppy not to bark at all the exciting things that go on in and around a home. You have to remain patient, consistent and firm with your puppy for them to get the message.
Puppies want your attention all of the time – they want you to play with them before they pass out and fall asleep exhausted. This means that very often, they will whine to get your attention and it usually happens when it's time for the household to go to bed and puppy doesn't want to be left alone. The thing to remember is that puppies and older dogs, will do something to get what they want – whining is just one of the things they may do!
The best way to deal with it is to ignore your puppy – which can be a really hard thing to do. After all a puppy whining means they are unhappy or maybe they need your help? The worst thing you can to is pander to them. As long as they are in a safe place where they cannot get into trouble, then you have to ignore their behaviour or you will end up reinforcing it – and then later this could be something that's really hard to correct!
Digging is something that puppies love to do and is one of the only naughty things which is quite hard to stop, unless you take them to obedience classes. Instinctively, dogs dig to find a cool place to lie down, or they might do it because they are making their beds more comfortable. Some dogs dig just because they are bored, which means you need to deal with the problem by eliminating the cause. If you catch your puppy digging up your flower beds, you need to put them on a lead and then when they do it again, gently tug them away all the while telling them “No” so they learn digging up the garden is out of bounds! You will need to consistently do this every time puppy starts digging in your garden – until they get the message!
The same applies if your puppy starts to dig at carpets, furniture and anywhere else around the house. You have to give them lots of praise when you tell them too and they do – and then make sure they don't start again, as soon as you turn your back. Of course, the best way to make sure a puppy isn't bored is to keep them busy with loads of exercise, so they're too tired to be naughty!
Puppies will chew things, they actually need to chew because it's good for their teeth and gums. However, they need to chew on things and items you give them, not your furniture, children's toys and anything else they can get their teeth into. You may find it amusing to come home to find a load of toilet paper strewn around your home and puppy fast asleep in the middle of the mess. However, if you want this behaviour to stop and prevent puppy from thinking it's a fun thing to do that makes humans laugh, you need to nip it in the bud straight away.
You should never tell a puppy off for this behaviour because they won't understand especially as they have not been “caught in the act”. What you have to do is take puppy outside and then check the damage inside the house before bringing pup back indoors and putting them in a cage (if you have one). You then need to start clearing up the mess with them watching you. Puppy will soon sense you are not happy and if they think it's because of what they have done, they will soon learn not to do it again – but it might take a few times!
The next time puppy is left to their own devices, make sure you leave them lots of toys they can chew on – and remember – never leave them on their own for long periods of time because this will make them very unhappy and it will encourage them to be naughty!
Jumping up is a very naughty habit and puppies need to be taught from a very early age that all four feet need to stay on the ground. Dogs that learn to jump up when they meet people can be a real problem. Not only could their paws be muddy and dirty, but they could knock someone over too. You need to gently tell your dog off when they get too excited when they meet people. or when visitors arrive at your home. However, you also need to teach people your don't want your puppy jumping up – no matter how pleased they are to see the people.
Very often, you can teach a young puppy not to jump up only to find that all your efforts go out of the window when someone you meet encourages them to do so. This means it's very important for you to be firm and gentle with your puppy and then let your friends and family know that you are training them not to jump up so they can follow suit.
Puppies are very clever little creatures and often it only takes one titbit for them to get into the habit of begging for some of that tasty “human” food. If you don't want problems further down the line, you should never give a puppy food from your own table when you are eating. Begging can be an annoying habit which could turn into a real issue - especially if you have young children around the house. There are certain foods which are really bad and dangerous for dogs to eat – most people know how toxic chocolate is to dogs, but onions can do some serious damage to a young puppy's health and well being too!
You need to make sure puppy is not under the table at meal times so they learn this is one time when they are not allowed to be around you. Offer your puppy an alternative to keep them busy while you eat, this could be a favourite toy or something they love to chew on. The thing to remember is you need to be strong to avoid a bad habit developing that could be a real issue later on.