Getting a new puppy is a very exciting time for the whole family, and there are a lot of advantages in getting your new dog while they are still young. Being able to train your pup in the way that you want to and being the person to introduce them to the world while they are at their most receptive to change and willing to learn has some distinctive advantages over taking on an older dog who may already be set in his ways. However, being the person responsible for training and teaching a new puppy is not without its challenges, and most owners of a dog under a year old will run into the odd hitch or two along the way. How you deal with any potential problems or difficulties can make all of the difference to the eventual outcome, and so gaining a basic understanding of some of the problems and challenges you may face along the way is a great idea.Here are some of the most commonly occurring puppy training problems, and tips on how to resolve them.
Nipping in play and without meaning to hurt is very common puppy behaviour, but one that can cause problems as the dog gets bigger- and those pointy little puppy teeth can hurt! A sharply spoken 'no!' can soon prove effective, especially when accompanied by praise upon compliance. Similarly, saying 'ouch!' in a surprised, offended voice can often have an instantaneous effect, as your pup will have elicited a similar reaction before when nipping at his litter mates led to offended yelping. It's important not to give your pup mixed signals, so do not allow nipping in play on some occasions and then chastise him for it another time.
It will take your new pup a while to get into the swing of things with other dogs, and learn about appropriate play, the difference between friend and foe, and their place in the pecking order of the pack. When your pup is little, they will usually display submissive behaviour to other larger and older dogs which they come into contact with, although as your puppy finds his feet and gets more confident, he may start to become too big for his boots! If your pup learns that he can dominate another dog or a particular dog yields authority to your growing pup, this may well be just a natural part of his growth and development and part of the formation of his personality. However if he becomes aggressive with another dog or becomes too rough in play with a dog that will not put him in his place when things get out of hand, you may need to step in. If the other dog does not give your pup warning cues to back off such as growling or pushing them down, you will need to fill this role yourself in order to help to teach your pup the limits of safe play and what is and is not acceptable behaviour.
Puppies learn early on in their lives that making a lot of noise can lead to attention, and it can be easy to inadvertently fall into a pattern of rewarding your pup for barking and start a vicious circle of undesirable attention seeking and inappropriate barking. The first thing to consider with an overzealously barking pup is whether or not they are getting enough stimulation in their day to day lives and make sure that they are not bored. If you then establish that the barking is simply a behavioural problem intended to elicit a result, it's important to set up firm boundaries for this behaviour. When your dog begins barking for no good reason, tell them 'no!' sharply, or 'no bark.' Then do not respond again until they comply, when they should be praised lavishly. Repeat this procedure as many times as is necessary to drive the message home!
If your pup simply doesn't seem to be taking to housetraining, there are a few things you need to consider. Make sure that you are taking your dog out often enough to go to the toilet, and that you are not simply asking too much of your pup by expecting them to hold on for too long between bathroom breaks.If your dog goes to the toilet in the house, make sure that you always clean up quickly and thoroughly with an enzymatic odour neutraliser to stop the puppy associating that particular corner of the home with the correct place to go to the toilet. Teach your puppy how to ask to go out, and make sure that you always let them out to go to the toilet when they do this. Not listening to their pleas can not only lead to accidents, but give your pup mixed signals about where to go to the toilet and how to get their needs met.
When your dog is little, their effusive greetings and jumping up upon seeing you or another friend can seem cute and entertaining, and it's easy to get into a routine of rewarding this behaviour by lavishing praise upon your pup. But by doing this, you are teaching him that jumping up is good thing to do, something which will stay in your pup's mind as they get older and the jumping up becomes annoying, messy, or even dangerous. You will naturally want your dog to be pleased to see you, and it can seem harsh to speak sharply or tell your pup off when they only wanted to let you know that they're glad that you're around. However, it's important to help your pup differentiate between greeting you and being rewarded for doing so, and jumping up, which is bad. When you are talking to and petting your dog and he jumps up, say 'no' firmly, and push your dog down or manually put his front paws back onto the floor again. Then give him a moment for this to sink in, before praising him and petting him again. You may have to repeat this procedure several times every time your dog greets you for a while until the message sinks in, but it's important to persevere!